Hello Suburban and anyone else following our trip! This is Brian Schaudt, token male for the volleyball camp. We had our first day of camp and it went very well, minus a potential concussion (more on this later). Our total enrollment is 48 kids and about one-third of them are new to the camp. Reconnecting with our friends from Matthew’s church yesterday and the campers today filled our team with much joy.
We started our day off waking up ridiculously early, partially because Latvia experiences about 3hrs of actual darkness this time of year as well as the lingering effects of jet lag. Erik, Marci, Carol and I were able to catch up and enjoy each other’s company and prep for the day, while Laura and Tayla, who were coming from different time zones, woke up at an appropriate hour in the morning.
Our volleyball camp goes from 9-5, with the order being breakfast, training session, break, lunch, activity, afternoon session. We arrived at the Olympic Center and immediately started rekindling friendships with past campers from last year. It was pretty awesome getting to see how some of them have changed physically, mentally and emotionally from one year ago.
Below is Gatis registering kids for the volleyball camp.
After breakfast we jumped right into our first training session! The kids typically scarf down their breakfast in 10-15min, leaving 45-50min before the actual volleyball starts. This leaves them time to change into sports clothes and have free time with the volleyballs in the gym. Personally, the free time before our morning and afternoon sessions is my favorite time of the camp. Most of the campers tend to be very shy when you approach them at breakfast or lunch and it’s amazing seeing how their guard comes down when you put a volleyball in their hand and give them a gym to run around in. I’ve developed more relationships with campers during this time then during all other parts of the camp combined…and today was no exception!
After free time I led the group in a rousing dynamic warm up then it was the Laura and Tayla show! Gatis Olte, the Latvian director of the camp, introduced us and translated for the morning. Laura explained the purpose of the camp and told them about our camp bible verse: Colossians 3:23. Tayla, who was Laura’s teammate at Oregon State, led most of the drills today. The goal of the day was ball control and Tayla masterfully blended the appropriate amount of games/drill ratio to keep the campers engaged yet productive.
One of the games involved kids getting into groups and forming a circle, where one member of the group ran around the circle until they got back to their group, then went through the member’s legs to the middle of the circle to retrieve a volleyball. Needless to say, the game became intense with crawling, diving, and a small pile up leading to a camper breaking his glasses and bumping his head.
After the morning session there was a small break for the campers to rest, then we ate lunch as a group. After lunch was the Marci Bacho show! Marci has been our official social media/photographer for the trip, but also serves a more important role of working with a friend from Matthews’ church, Matiss Babrovskis, to coordinate the post-lunch time. Today, we opened with a game then I shared my testimony followed by some interactive and cooperative games. The main point of my testimony is to not settle for your faith as boring because church can be boring (especially at their age). I encourage the campers who have accepted Jesus to find fun in their faith to create sustainability. To those that have not accepted Christ I told them that Jesus is waiting right outside their heart and all they have to do if they want to have a relationship with him is invite him to come in privately, publically, or however they want.
After lunch we did a short warm up and resumed the Laura and Tayla show, working on ball control via a combination of games and drills. The campers took to the drills well and showed improvement by the end of the day despite their obvious exhaustion. We closed the day with a fun massive volleyball game to put the ball control skills together.
When camp was concluded we walked to Gatis and Ance’s house. Ance, who is now Gatis’s wife and helped us tremendously last year and today, is a current professional volleyball player for the Latvian team. They fed us pizza and we were able to relax after camp and tell stories, laugh and get to know each other better. Thankfully another friend of ours, Hardijs, came to pick us up from the house and take us our apartment. We probably would not have made it back on foot due to us most likely getting lost and/or being pretty tired from camp and jet lag.
Overall our team had a very promising day today! Compared to this day last year, we are heads and tails ahead of our progress in our relationships with the adults and campers, as well as the drills. We are already looking forward to tomorrow…and until tomorrow, have a good night (or day).
- Brian Schaudt
PS. Erik update: Erik Simmon’s had a good first official day working toward his “special project” that our church is planning for Matthews church’s 150th anniversary this fall. He has lots of information to take in, places in Riga to visit, many one on one meetings and even a super-secret covert mission to Estonia (don’t tell anyone).