polska: the camp

August 24, 2013

After traveling for 30 some odd hours,
we finally arrived in Warsaw, Poland.
We met the rest of our team, had dinner 
and did a little sightseeing before it was too dark (more travel photos to come).
Then we headed to Zakosciele.
It was very late and very dark when we arrived and we were exhausted.
Seeing camp would have to wait until morning.
But it was worth the wait...

The "hotel" where most of the volunteers stayed.
This building holds the cafeteria where volunteers, campers and staff eat together
as well as offices for the staff members.


There are a bunch of local, random dogs that hang around the camp.
I think they enjoy all the activity. It's funny to watch the staff try to shoo them off.

Sunday morning we attended The Tomy Church in Tomaszow
and I was soooooo excited!!
It was one of the things I was most looking forward to.
Our church is deeply invested in The Tomy Church
and its staff members are so special to us.
Many of them have visited the US and Cedar Ridge several times
but it was so great seeing them in their own element.
There's a cafe right as you walk in and then a modern sanctuary just beyond.
The building actually used to be an old movie theatre that they converted.

Worship was just like ours but in Polish.
The message was in Polish but us American folk had headsets
with someone translating for us.
It was a soul refresher after traveling so far
and a great start to the week!

Campers began arriving Sunday afternoon
so we had to get right down to business.
This is when things got real for me...

First up was the evaluation of the campers skills
and then they were divided into teams.
There was a women's league, a young boys league and an older boys league.
I volunteered to fold and organize t-shirts and prizes,
thought I'd walk around and take some photos and socialize with the campers.
This is what I thought my week would look like.
I don't play/know anything about basketball.

So I pop in to see how the girls are coming along with their teams
and am told there is a shortage of women's coaches and I would have to be one of them.

"Ha. That's a good one guys. Can you imagine! Lol."
"No Chelsea. We're serious. We really need you to coach."
"Lol. Yeah. Right. Lol!"
"No really. You're going to coach a team."
{the smile melts away from my face as I realize they're serious}
"No really. You guys. I don't. Know. ANYTHING about basketball!"
"It's fine. You'll do fine! We'll tell you what you need to do. It's simple!"
{heart pounding, sweat beading, panicking,
frantically looking for a vehicle with keys to make a hasty escape to the nearest airport}

I was scared you guys.
Like for real.
I have no idea what I'm doing.
I'm gonna screw up.
These girls are going to see right through me.
I did not come to this basketball camp to have anything to do with BASKETBALL!!
Why is this happening God, WHY??

Overly dramatic?
But this is seriously what was going through my head.
I needed a major attitude adjustment.
So I escaped to my room for a few precious moments 
of frantic scripture reading and pleading prayers.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:13

Yes. This will have to do.
Lord Jesus, I have no idea WHAT I'm doing.
I need you. I need your bball skillz. Teach me your ways.
No really God, just help me not to screw this up.
I'm here for you. I'm here for you. I'm here for you...

So the evening rolls around and its time for our meeting in the "magazine"
and team announcements.

That's my hubby on the right.
He was in charge of the whole basketball league while we were there.
I thought he might be able to pull some strings and get me out of this mess
but he just laughed when I asked.
That's my sister on the left and Daniel, the head of the camp, in the middle.
He's one of my new favorite people.

My name is called, I run up on stage, feigning enthusiasm
and acting like I totally knew what I was doing.
"Yeah! Let's do this! Go sparks!"
Oh dear Jesus, how do you pronounce their names!?

{photo c/o: proem}

By God's Grace and Mercy I had a night to prepare my heart.
Monday morning came fast though.

This is what each day looked like:
8 am - volunteer team meeting
8:30 - breakfast
9:20 - camp wide meeting
for worship time, a short message and announcements
10:30 - small group prayer time
11 am - on the courts!
practice, drills and games
1 pm - lunch
2 pm - back to the courts
6 pm - supper
8:20 - camp wide meeting
for worship time, a short message and announcements
9:30 - free/social time
11 pm - lights out for campers 

{Agnieszka - one of my girls!}

So I do my best to face this whole coaching sitch
and thank goodness I had an American staff member on my team
who knows the game and speaks fluent Polish.
Most of my girls were Polish but I also had 1 Ukrainian,
1 Belarusian and 1 Lithuanian on my team.

Any time I wasn't fake coaching
I was time keeping and score keeping.
Now...what's a foul again??
It was amazing.
Amazingly scary.
Especially when doing it for the older boys.
They're extremely competitive. 
We would be in the process of flipping the scoreboard 
and they would start screaming at us because it didn't reflect the new score immediately.
"lozksijeinl ksdguh nlsiejl ksehxhjzkj nksuhekszj uhgb!!!"
That's what it sounded like.

{photo c/o: proem}


{Janelle, one of our Cedar Ridge team members!}

As the week wears on a miracle starts to take place.
I start caring.
I start getting competitive.
I start wanting to win.

But we're losing. A lot.
Like every game.
All the other teams can at least compete with one another.
But not my team.
We're missing a strong player and team leader.

{my adorable sister}

And then on Wednesday the Lord shines down upon us.
Some Ukrainians got held up due to their visas.
They had to get VISAS to come to camp for 5 days.
Eastern Europe still has some crazy restrictions.
So Maria joins our team and she's just what we need.
The other 2 strong-ish players start playing better with her,
a few more teammates are blossoming into stronger players
and the team on a whole is playing better as a unit.

We win one.
And then another.
And another.
My girls are ecstatic.
Everyone wants to win - especially the Poles. ;)

{my father-in-law and fellow girls coach}

And then the biggest miracle of all happens.
We're playing John, my father-in-law's, team.
He doesn't have any tall girls but he's got 3 or 4 extremely good shooters.
Not 3-point swish shooters.
But excellent layup shooters.
And they have a system.
By now we've played them several times.
And I've been paying attention to the strengths and weaknesses of each team.
And I've figured out how this team keeps winning...

They rebound the ball
and while both teams are still under the basket
one of them takes off and hauls a down the court to their own basket.
Then another player launches the ball as hard as they can to that girl.
Then that girl shoots a layup.
And makes it.
Every. Single. Time.
This is what they do
Every. Single. Time.
And this is how they win their games.
So I gather up my girls.
Tell them EXACTLY what's going to happen
and EXACTLY what they need to do to stop it.
Then I scream at them on the court
"GO! GO! GO!"
In their face.
Every. Single. Time.
The opposing team didn't know what to do with themselves.
They had no other game plan.
This was it.
And we were blocking every one of their shots.

{my sister laughing at my Austin Powers photography moves...
I might have been crawling on the ground to get my shots and saying things like "yeah baby!"}

We won that game.
My heart was bursting with pride.
I mean,
I saw our opposing team's tactic.
I explained it to my girls
and told them exactly what to do to stop it.
They listened.
It was a spiritual experience.
Through basketball.
I'm not even joking.
It's like the Lord spoke through me. ;)
At that moment,
seeing the proud and exhilarating smiles on my girls faces,
I felt like a coach.
And all of the fear, insecurity and hard work became worth it.
These girls,
were worth it.

{a prayer before every game}

My team won their first game in the tournament.
Then we played the best team in the league right after that in 90 degree heat
and lost.
But it was okay.
We played hard, were happy with our performance and were tired.
It was a bit of relief to be done
and just enjoy watching the rest of the games that day.

{the usa team. obviously.}

{dunk contest}

{Cedar Ridge team member, Matt, reffing}

{my hubs, reffing - photo c/o: proem}

{Cassie, reffing - photo c/o: proem}

Camp was coming to a close.

Everyone starts wanting photos with each other.
With their coaches.
New friends.
Old friends.
These kids love them some facebook.

I sort of favored the Lithuanians.
They all knew who I was already cause Jeff talked about me last year.
They also spoke English really well and a lot of the campers were too intimidated to try.
These were some of the sweetest guys.
Martynas, on the right, accepted Christ while we were there.
Arunas, in the middle, came back to the camp a few weeks later
to be baptized in the river because camp has meant so much to him.

And just like that...
camp was over.
And it was time to say goodbye.
It was a fast, busy, hard, fun, scary, exhausting, draining
and good, good week.

1 comment:

Gwen, The Makerista said...

What a trip! And what beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing!

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