A 5 am wake up call is something that people would not want to adhere to during summer holidays. Our campers however chose this and are quite willing be woken up. We started off by assembling to warm up together in a fun way. The campers really enjoyed dancing along by imitating the movement of Sangeeta Isvaran (NOT ME! She’s the one behind the Personal Development programs. Apparently the campers refer to her as Arts Sangeeta and they call me Ultimate Sangeetha to avoid confusion). We danced to ‘It’s time for Africa’ (the Waka Waka Shakira song), as part of our warm up routine and the kids absolutely love it, turns out it still retains it’s annoying properties when it gets stuck in your head.
We had 4 pairs of ‘Master Coaches’ conduct a session on Ultimate Terminology consisting of around 30 odd words. This session’s primary intention was to help the kids over come the language barrier on the ultimate field. E.g The Hindi word for catch is ‘Pakad’, the Tamil equivalent is ‘Pudi’. If we introduce the term ‘Catch’ instead then explain what it means, they can hopefully use the words for on field communication. The secondary aim is that it assigns a word to concepts they are already familiar with or trying to learn and therefore makes it easier to retain. Other terms like ‘Force’, ‘Break’, Defense/Offense, ‘Home/Away’ was introduced. After this we went to the fields with our teams for the first time and we practiced Ninja Throws and vertical stack.
Day 1 of the camp was full of many novel experiences, some of which was received well by the kids some need a little more encouragement for them to take up. There are 4 personal activities that are being used in this youth camp.
- Photo Story – Each team is given a camera and the activity is built about the theme “Bridging gaps”. The campers were asked to make note of and capture any moment of either discrimination or equality. They get to capture the essence of their team through incidents that occurred. The children also get to learn to upload and present these pictures on either Google+ or Facebook through a team account.
- Mural/Banner – Each team will paint a banner with symbols/scenes/things/feelings that represent home for each of them. These will be combined and painted on to a banner that will be used in the tournament on the last 2 days.
- Logo making – Campers get to make their own logo. First they need to identify qualities of Ultimate, like teamwork, friendship, trust, fun etc. Then they try to visually represent the quality and put it down on paper. The kids will either vote on the design they like the best and can try to combine it.
- T-shirt painting – After they decide their team logo they get to paint it on coloured t-shirts. This activity requires teamwork, they have to work in pairs. One camper has to paint while their teammate holds down the t shirt for them. They will play their tournament wearing these.
The day for the coaches ends with a meeting post dinner for an hour everyday. This serves as an opportunity to share experiences and learn what worked and what didn’t. Some teams brought up the issue of extreme difference in skill level among the kids. Every team has kids with tournament experience ( 2 per team) , and the rest have been either just introduced to the game or beginners. In most teams the experienced kids were willing to help out the beginners, in a couple of teams these kids felt bored and didn’t want to participate. The coaches toyed with the possibility of segregating the kids according to skill level and running separate clinics. The majority of the coaches felt that segregating kids and splitting them from their original team goes against the qualities of ultimate earlier identified by kids in their personal development sessions. Ultimate to them meant equality and inclusion regardless of economic status, physical appearance, language and separating kids on the basis on skill level was seen as a kind of discrimination.
This steamy discussion was interrupted by volunteers saying they couldn’t control the kids. They were pillow fighting and wandering about. We quickly wrapped it up to switch up our tactic with difficult kids and take a call on whether the teams need to be split the next day.
That’s the end of day one, physically and mentally tiring because of the constant activities, we plan to ease up tomorrow and include an extra hour of free time to help the kids and coaches regain their energy.
Things I learnt today –
- Kids are really good at hide and seek. They are near impossible to be found if they don’t want to be. I have one difficult camper who does not want to participate in any activity or drill.
- Kids reflect the coach’s attitude. If the coaches are tired or not very enthusiastic about the activity the kids slack off a lot more.
- Kids can’t be treated like adults all the time. I usually don’t get along well with the kids, but Ultimate gives us a ground for interaction. My usual strategy is to treat the kids like adults. This usually works well because I only meet them for a couple of hours. One of my kids started crying in the middle of drills because he was missing his parents (It’s their first ever trip alone for many of them). I had to stop the drills, circle up and ask his teammates to cheer him up. We went back to drills and scrimmage after we did a 3 cheers for all the mums and dads.