So, it’s over. Many of the international coaches and staff have returned home and the post-camp blues have started to set in. After such an intense physical and emotional experience, one can’t help but feel a little gloomy when it comes to an end. Thank heavens for Facebook! Being inundated by friend requests from campers whose names are written in Hebrew or Arabic script is a great reminder of all the love we shared this past week.
The last day of camp started with mixed pick-up for all the teams who didn’t make the finals of the tournament. This was the first time the teams had had boys and girls on them… another cultural challenge, especially for campers from more conservative Arab villages. But, as expected, the challenge was met with open arms and the freedom of pick-up– where mistakes are embraced and creativity encouraged– was apparent everywhere.
Simultaneous boys and girls finals saw the Men in Blue and Blue Steel on one field and the Ninjas vs. the Froggy Frogs on the other. A blue boys team has won the tournament every year so far and even before the first pull, this year was no exception with Navy and Light Blue facing off for first place. The Ninja Frogs showdown promised to be a good battle as the Frogs had defeated the Ninjas in an early scrimmage, but lost to them in pool play the day before. The funny thing about the finals though… nobody really cared. Everyone was out dancing and cheering mainly for the sake of dancing and cheering. In fact, at the final camp meeting in the afternoon, David nearly forgot to mention the victors at all: ”Oh, yeah. And congratulations to our tournament winners,” he said as kids were starting to file out for our final team meetings and goodbyes.
Clearly, victory at UP is not about the score. It’s about spirit. It’s about our 5 values. It’s about relationships. As I sat in our team circle watching girls cry their eyes out as they talked about each other, their new friendships, and their experience over the last several days, I couldn’t help (cheese alert!) but see us all as winners. (And in case you’re dying to know: Blue Steel and the Ninjas came out on top in the end.)