By Sophie Zinser, Jordan Director of Operations
Grey clouds greeted the girls on the last day of camp, but dreary weather was no match for their energy and enthusiasm. Girls ran out of the busses chanting and screaming for Nina Camp, high-fiving me on the run in and greeting each other excitedly before tossing frisbees and playing clapping games with their favorite volunteers before activities started.
When everyone had arrived, Head Coach Rawda got the girls in a circle for a team warm-up, chant, and review of the rules of camp. She then split the girls into four groups, one with her, one with Coach Ru’a, one with RC Coach Hanan and one with RC Coach Umana. The girls had the experience of rotating coaches, meaning that each group of girls got to work with all volunteers and coaches throughout the day. The games involved sprints, frisbee tosses, and even a bear crawl (from Coach Ru’a)!. The girls concluded the activity warm up with a twenty-minute staggered run, ensuring that the girls were going faster and getting increasingly prepared for the race.
Today’s batch of excited volunteers were joined by a special guest, who arrived to bring extra sports equipment for the day, some additional bottles of water, and the printed camp completion certificates: Summer Forester. Summer volunteered at the first and second Nina Brekelmans Running Camp for Girls back in 2016 and 2017, first as a Fulbright Scholar and then as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Purdue University. After completing her PhD at Purdue in Political Science, Summer stopped by Jordan before beginning her teaching appointment at Carleton College in Minnesota this fall. She reflected throughout the day on how smoothly the camp activities were going, and how the girls seemed to be really enjoying their time at the camp.
After a tasty lunch of shawarma sandwiches, apples, and bananas, the girls all gathered and were greeted by a surprise: Coach Rawda had changed her outfit! In an inspirational lecture to the girls, Coach Rawda shared she is also an assistant principal as well as a coach. She explained that women, regardless of background or outfit, can be whatever they want to be and contribute in numerous ways to society.
Coach Rawda then introduced Summer to the camp, and Summer thanked the girls for their enthusiasm and work throughout each camp day. Sophie then stepped in and shared Nina’s story with the girls. She reminded them of Nina’s core values that they had reviewed throughout the camp, and assured them that Nina’s family and friends all across the world are thinking of the girls and the incredible work that they accomplished over the past month in Nina’s honor. The certificates, she said, represented a tangible memory of the camp that the girls can carry with them forever to remember the incredible times they had with each other. Each girl had her name written on the certificate above the words stating in English: for her participation in the Nina Brekelmans camp and for her commitment to Nina's values: kindness, honesty, intelligence, and respect for others. Reminding the girls of Nina’s memory will continue to inspire them for years beyond this year’s camp!
The girls then each got a photo with Summer, Sophie, and Coach Rawda, Coach Ru’a, RC Coach Hanan, and RC Coach Umena. The photo resulted in some great poses, and the girls were excited to receive a special gift to honor their hard work.
With not enough time left for journaling, and with one week left until the race on April 27, Rawda instructed the girls to take their notebooks home, imagine Race Day, and draw themselves succeeding. Calls of “See you at the race” could be heard as the girls all ran off to their busses home, talking and laughing in excited anticipation.