The girls left for overnight camp yesterday. On Friday, I came in to say goodbye to the girls and wish the first-timers luck. While many girls have been to sleep-away camp before, some of the younger girls were preparing for their first trip away from home. This is always a tough transition, but the girls seemed to be feeling more excited than anxious.
As I’m talking to the campers, one of the Team 2 girls wanders up to me with a camera. “Coach Ryder, can I get a picture?” she asks. The camera is fresh out of the box, hasn’t been wound yet, and the flash isn’t working, so I end up smiling into the camera for about 2 minutes as she tries to fix it. After a few attempts, I try to reach over and show her, but she calmly shifts away. “I got it,” she mutters under her breath. She’s not really talking to me – she seems to be convincing herself. I step away and watch her figure it out. She has settled into a focused state. Instead of being frantic or embarrassed, she thoughtfully tests different methods. This girl is usually very active. She is a smart girl, but is often so eager to start activities that she rushes ahead without receiving instruction. She has a remarkable knack for leaving her belongings behind, having usually sprinted off to the next activity in order to get started ahead of everyone else. By the end of camp, we had developed an easy, unspoken exchange where I would wordlessly return her missing bag/water bottle/lunch and she would give me a sheepish smile before running off again. She is one of the girls who understands and thrives under nonverbal communication and reinforcement.
Now she has adopted a less frenzied demeanor. She is relaxed. Her perceptiveness is astounding, which lends itself well to her ability to communicate with her peers and coaches. Now, she is problem-solving quietly. She reads the instructions, checks the flash, winds the camera and aims. I smile at the lens and wait. She tries a couple of times, but something is still wrong. I realize she is pressing the wrong button and nod to the correct one. “Oh, there it is,” she laughs, pointing the camera up at me. “No problem,” I start, “now you’re ready to line up the picture and…” Without warning, she clicks the button.
“That’s a good one,” she says confidently. I stand there for a second, thinking about how I was mid-sentence, certainly with an unflattering look on my face, eyes definitely closed. “Okay, Coach Ryder, see ya next year!” she says as she bounds off to snap more pictures. “Uh, okay, have a good trip!” I stammer after her, but she’s long gone.
The girls arrived safely at overnight camp yesterday afternoon, and I am certain they are having a good time. Today they are learning archery and tonight they will perform in the much-anticipated talent show. I know the girls will rock it. Until next time,