It’s time for a LONG overdue update.
My last post was about my English camp and was right before Sports camp, which I neglected to post an update on, so here we are.
Sports camp started with me traipsing over to the small village train station to meet the volunteers who would be coming out to help me with camp this year. Last year, five of my friends came out and some of them aren’t in Ukraine anymore, some were busy this year and I also wanted to have my kids meet new volunteers. Only my friend Kaitlyn came last year and this year.
This year was also different because I’m in a much different living arrangement than I was last year. Last year’s house had enough beds for everyone and the house I’ve been living in for about a year now is much smaller and is the perfect size for just me, but it’s cozy for me and 3 of my friends. Nonetheless, we made do.
Camp started on a Tuesday because Monday was a holiday. I had over 50 permission slips, but that could mean 75 kids were going to show up or 10 kids were going to show up.
We started each day with some stretching and a tag game. I get my tag games from my childhood and also having my PE teacher mother as a fantastic resource. This camp was one of my projects during my Peace Corps service that I am most proud of and I was glad that my school let me run it for a second time.
We started with toilet tag and then moved on to a rotation of (American) football and kickball. I’ve been blessed to get some support from people (my mom) back home who sent me a sweet package filled with footballs, bases and whatnot to make this camp great. I led kickball.
This spring, when the weather was gorgeous, we did lots of outside English Club and we played lots of kickball, so lots of my kids knew the basics already. The other group learned to simplify the rules to football because it’s pretty hard to explain offsides and downs and all that in three different languages.
That being said, my older students, specifically my 10th formers Alexandra, Lina and Salvina, helped us translate for some of the younger students. They were super helpful especially because this year I let students that will be in 4th form at the beginning of the school year attend and I didn’t teach them this year. We took a break for lunch and then switched. We ended the day with another tag game and said we’d see the kids tomorrow.
I gave my guests a quick tour of the village, basically we walked up the stadium, pet some goats and took a bunch of pictures up there. Then we headed home, everyone was hoping to shower, but in classic fashion, I didn’t have running water. So, we laid around all sweaty and I made dinner. I recently learned how to make tortillas, so I whipped up some of those to go with taco stuff.
Right before dinner was done, it looked like it was going to rain. Chuck, Dillon and I went outside, hoping we could get a sprinkle and rinse some of the day’s sweat off. It ended up POURING, Chuck and Dillon full on showered outside and I just rinsed off and headed inside where I discovered that…the water was back on. We ate dinner and went to bed.
On Wednesday we played ultimate frisbee and dodgeball. I’m really lucky that my school lets me have free reign and we get to use the gym for camp as well. Dodgeball is one of my favorite games to play with my kids because it’s pretty easy to teach and learn.
We split them into teams and I was surprised by how amazing some of my girls are at dodgeball, not because they’re girls, I just didn’t expect them to light up those boys. We played girls vs. boys because they always want to play and the girls usually get smoked just because it’s different mechanics, but my girls WERE SO GOOD. They beat the boys. Frisbee outside went well, but we ended the day with teachers versus campers dodgeball, we lost of course because there were like 50 of them, but it was super fun.
After camp was over, Dillon headed home and Chuck, Sherri and I went to Chezara’s garden house and picked our weight in cherries, after I got us lost of course. This village has one street and I still managed to get lost every couple of months.
Day three was for baseball and yoga. I was very nervous to lead yoga because I’ve done yoga for a couple of years now, went to classes at home and whatnot, but I’d never let a class before. We went through a quick flow of sun salutations and warrior poses and all of that. When I explained the poses that were named after animals (ie downward dog, cats/cows etc.) we made animal noises and it was very cute that they made the noises unprompted as we did the poses.
A lot of my girls were very excited for yoga, but the boys were less than enthused, I was happy that they participated and didn’t make a joke of it. Some of them can be less than helpful when it’s not something they’re excited about it. We got through yoga, played a big game of football and ended the day just letting them play with the equipment.
For the last day, we played some of your classic field day water relay games: pass the cup, sponge water race and water balloon volleyball. I was worried it would rain, it was cloudy the whole time, but the rain held off. We ended early to leave time for ice cream and, the most important part of any camp, selfies.
The last day was very bittersweet. This year was all in all, better than last year. I knew what I was doing, it was more well organized, I knew how to run it more effectively because it wasn’t first time and I’d spent a whole year with these kids. I was really happy with how this camp turned out.
At the same time, it was one of the first of many upcoming goodbyes. It was my last sports camp. I’ll be leaving Ukraine in November, so I won’t be here next year for sports camp and I’m still starting to try and figure out how to start saying goodbye and getting closure for this.