by Sophie Zinser, Jordan Director of Operations
Over seventy girls from across Amman brought their enthusiasm and incredible energy to King Hussein Park this morning. While the weather was still a bit grey, spirits remained high from the outset, as a group of girls started an impromptu dance warmup on the bus ride over. With the weather a bit chilly, most girls and coaches wore sweaters over their T-Shirts, but the game play heated up throughout the three-hour event.
Now that the girls have been introduced to the camp structure, the pace of play and enthusiasm has only increased. Head Coach Ru’a started the morning with an introduction, review of the rules covered last week--namely respect, kindness, and commitment to peer sport--and a rapidfire jumping jacks spree that got the girls excited to participate in camp. Ru’a then tested the girl’s knowledge of the classic Nina Brekelmans camp chant to get everyone fired up for the day.
Afterwards, Ru’a split the team into three activity sections based on age. Coach Hanan ran some activities with the younger girls and coached a particularly cute hugging game, where the girls raced around each other until a shout from Hanan signaled that the girls must hug someone nearby. Many of the girls just piled up and hugged each other (this got some “awwww”s from volunteers).
Ru’a led a section of older girls, many of whom have a background in sports. Towards the end of the drill, Ru’a switch roles and invited some eager girls to lead their own activity sub-sections. They were excited to take on the responsibility and led their peers in dance circles and hype songs in addition to sports activities. This was a great chance for the younger girls to see examples of how they may one day lead camp activities on their own.
Our volunteers were an especially energetic bunch this week. One volunteer, Kendall, spent time cartwheeling around camp and teaching some of the more shy girls along the sidelines how to do headstands. One little girl insisted that our volunteer Rosalie roll around with her on the ground. Rosalie obliged. Yet another volunteer, Jodi, allowed the girls to test out different hairstyles and headbands on her during a long water break. We’re thankful for the steadfast commitment of our volunteers and coaches!
After the activity period, the girls had their first experience practicing full laps. Volunteers were strategically spaced around the large soccer field and offered the girls high fives as they ran excitedly by. This was a great step towards building endurance and preparing for race day. Girls were given 20 minutes to walk/run as many laps as they could as an early test in self-pacing. Many girls shared how many laps they ran. One told our Jordan Director of Operations that she ran “six laps today, but by race day, I will be able to run ten!”
Just as the girls finished running, our guest speakers for the day, Shareefa Alsqqa and Ashwak ßåÐråñ, arrived and led the girls in a cool-down stretch. Shareefa and Ashwak are both elite competitive distance runners and were close friends of Nina’s during her time in Amman. We were honored to welcome them to camp this week.
Shareef and Ashwak explained the importance of running form and how one must always stretch after completing a long run in order to gain strength. After inspiring the girls, everyone took a lunch break of shawarma, banana and apples while Shareefa and Ashwak shared more of Nina’s story. They described what an excellent and motivated runner Nina was, and how she was able to win nearly every race she entered in Jordan, due in large part to her work ethic but also because of her kindness to others and determination. Inspired by Nina’s story, the girls, volunteers and speakers all took a group photo in the first of many Nina Camp group photos this year to commemorate the day.
Following the lecture, the girls closed out the afternoon with some journaling time. It is evident that bonds are already forming between the campers and volunteers. During the journaling period, two girls shared that they had written about how much fun they had learning from one of our star volunteers, Sophia. Other girls drew themselves holding hands with their fellow campers, volunteers and coaches. As the girls high fived the volunteers on the way to their busses home at the end of the day, their enthusiasm for the next camp week--and for race day--left the cloudy afternoon feeling a little brighter.
(This week was wonderful, we couldn’t decide what pictures to choose! Check out even more pictures from Week 2 below!)