I had the privilege of working at the Seattle Youth Ultimate Camp last week. Roger and Mike have built a really amazing thing up there in the Emerald City. Two one-week sessions, each one featuring 250 kids ages 8-16.
Unlike a lot of ultimate camps, which promise to make you a super-duper superstar, SYUC is a unique animal. It is a regular summer camp, like soccer camp or art camp or physical science camp, but it's for ultimate. The curriculum is an interesting mix of ultimate and reindeer games. At the high school level, we played a lot of mini (more touches) and did a lot of ultimate work in the mornings, but mixed throughout was Ninja, Boot, Schtick, Galaxy Wars, Mack-Line-Elimination, DDC and the vogue game of the week: You're-Out-In-And-Out.
The staff of the camp is ridiculous. A new middle school coach came down from BC to watch and his comment was that SYUC was like hockey camp taught by a bunch of NHLers. At the high school level we had 5 worlds titles, 12 national titles and who knows how many college and club national appearances.
This experience made teaching individual skills easy, but teaching team level skills tricky. It is great for the kids to get instruction in a new way of thinking about marking (since some have been to camp 10+ times,) but difficult to figure out how to instruct on playing offense. Who's offense are we learning? Riot's? Fury's? Sockeye's? Fugue's? Each of those offenses carries with it an assumption of spacing, timing and reads that is subtly and not-so-subtly different. When all of us are coming from different places, instructing kids on those things is impossible.
My last thought is that high school ultimate players need to get in the weight room. Recently, I had a conversation about lifting with the coach of the high school football team where I work. They have a summer lifting program and I asked him how he ensured attendance and what he did about the kids who no-show. He doesn't worry about it, he said, he just writes them off because if they aren't in the weight room, they are going to get injured. Ultimate is the same. I look at the injury problems players like Matt Reyder and Sam K-S are having at 19 and 21 and I say: WEIGHT ROOM!