by Sophie Zinser, Jordan Director of Operations
While grey skies and a storm were predicted for the first day of camp, the campers and coaches relocated our kickoff day for the 2019 Nina Brekelmans Running Camp for Girls from our outdoor location at King Hussein Park to the beautiful, spacious gym of Tala’a al-Ali Girls High School. When the start time changed to 9am instead of 10am to accommodate the new space, 56 girls from around Amman were up early to hop on three busses and gather at the gym to learn, run, and be inspired by Nina’s story. Twelve fantastic volunteers supported the camp today as well!
One star volunteer Georgie was up earlier than the rest, facilitating the bus for our new partner organization, Sawiyan, riding the bus to pick up girls from Jebal al-Akdar, Jebal al-Jofah, and Jebal Amman in addition to our participants through Reclaim Childhood. When all girls arrived, each were given custom-made t-shirts that they will wear for each day of the camp throughout the next month.
Our head coach gave an inspiring speech about the values of camp to start the day. What are they? Honesty, kindness, determination, and, first and foremost, respect for one another. No one succeeds alone; every success that we achieve at the running camp is done as a team. Our head coach joined with Jordan Director, Sophie, to talk about how the Nina Brekelmans Memorial Foundation works in Washington, D.C. and Jordan and shared Nina’s story to inspire the girls.
Nina was always kind to her friends and family. She focused on her education, dedicated herself to running, and was a good friend to all. The girls promised to support each other in honor of her memory. The discussion ended with our favorite chant of Nina’s name and a promise to work together to succeed at the 2019 Nina Brekelmans Race for Girls.
After we reviewed the rules of the camp, the girls were split up into four groups of approximately 15 for three rounds of activities led by our two head coaches and two assistant coaches. There was a tag-and-chase game, a game of throwing and catching cones and balls, and a sprinting challenge game. The girls loved the games as the gym echoed with the excited sounds of their screaming, sneakers squeaking, and laughter.
Once the girls finished the activities (and a water break!), they all gathered for a seven-minute group run to practice for the race. Each learned about breathing techniques and establishing their own pace. They focused on pushing themselves and respecting each other’s space. When they were sufficiently tired out, they all headed into the classroom attached to the gym for some quiet time.
When seated, the girls were each given a new journal and pen. They wrote their names on the front and wrote about what words they associated with Nina and the 2019 race: winning, strength, kindness, friendship, prize, completion. They then each drew themselves crossing the finish line. Many also drew photos of Nina!
After quiet time, the girls enjoyed shwarma, cheese sandwiches, apples, bananas, and water while listening to the wise words of our honored guest, Lina El Kurd, the General Manager of Run Jordan, Jordan’s largest and most successful running association. Lina inspired the girls with stories of how she became Run Jordan’s general manager and discussed the organization’s programming and design. She encouraged the girls to take on leadership roles in their community and ended with a huge round of applause. We are so grateful for her time. Many of the girls expressed how excited they were to meet her!
After camp, the girls scattered off to their busses, high-fiving the coaches and volunteers on the way out! We can’t wait for next week.