This is the third of five blog posts about the camps where DC students work each afternoon. Team Xejuyup counselors are Kay Kay,Carlos, Kevin, and Xander.
The camp lasts from 3-5 everyday Monday through Friday. In order to get to and from camp we take a combination of Guatemalan public transportation. A micro bus, public bus, and then a pickup.
The first day of camp, none of us knew what to expect. We all kept looking to Carlos for guidance as he was the grizzled Hoops Sagrado veteran. The previous year he ran the Xejuyup camp.
“Expect anything and everything” Carlos kept repeating to us as we all sat in the back of a pickup truck and prodded him with questions about the camp.
We were all puzzled by his vague advice that he kept insisting.
“What does that even mean?” One of us inquired. “It means expect the unexpected” he said, refusing to elaborate.
We all rolled our eyes at this, when the bus began to slow down. We arrived at the camp. We all hopped out and stood in front of the school gate. With one knock on the door a teacher opened it wearing a warm smile.
Just as we were about to return the smile and say hello a deafeningly loud symphony of music
When we finally reached the center of the outside section of the school the kids began to form a circle around us while playing their instruments. The music slowed down, sped up, and then came to a dramatic close.
“That is our way of saying welcome and we hope you feel at home,” the teacher said in Spanish when the performance stopped.
“Gracias” We mumbled while still in awe of the heartfelt welcoming we received.
One by one the children set down their instruments and shyly introduced themselves. We then all walked over to the nearby basketball court.
Trees hung over the well-used court that appeared to be the children's second home. There were no nets on the rims, no three point or free throw lines, and the hoops undersized.. This was all of no importance to the kids. All of them short in stature but full of life. The kids all play with heart and a fiery intensity. They dive for loose balls and will the ball through the hoop.
Hard fouls and rough falls don't deter them. Regardless of the collision or the fall they always brush it off and keep playing just as hard. As I watch them play a shrill blow of a whistle catches everyone's attention.
“CINCO VUELTAS” Carlos shouts after blowing his whistle.
It is a hot day and the court is full of dust but the kids stop what they are doing and instantly oblige. After they sprint five laps around the court and return to the starting point another abrupt whistle sounds.
“CINCO MAS” Carlos screams.
Camp is in session.
I later learn the first week is “Hell week” and of the 30 that are in the camp only 20 make it
The kids’ favorite part of camp is anything involving competition. We try to incorporate lots of contests and games into camp sessions. Organizing these was hard at first because of the language barrier. However, as time went on we have all formed bonds with the kids and communicating became easier.
Everyday the kids come to camp with big smiles and lots of energy. They all look up to us and try to emulate us any way they can. Often they ask how to say their names in English, and repeat phrases we say. What they don't know is that they inspire us as much as we inspire them. A lot can be learned from their outlook on life, the way they look out for each other, and how they approach camp.
We look forward to continue to learn from them all the way up to the tournament that they will certainly be prepared for.
Nevertheless we tell them to “Expect anything and everything.”
(A special thank you to Xander for writing this blog post! He did a great job and if he wants to come back this year, this blogger may be out of a job.)