ESF Multi-Sports Winter Camp

All Hail Queen E, whose first time it is, to put her hand in the team ring (or whatever they call this (sheepish))

All Hail Queen E, whose first time it is, to put her hand in the team ring (or whatever they call this (sheepish))

In the game of Dodgeball, the “doctor” player’s role is to “revive” other players who have been hit with a ball thrown by the opposing team. Players who have been hit may not continue to play until their team “doctor” has given them the High Five of Revival. The team “doctor” has to do this without getting hit by a ball themselves, since the “doctor” is the only one who can revive other players, and cannot do so for themselves. Obviously, the game is as good as over when your team “doctor” is hit. Naturally, the team “doctor” has to a) revive team mates as fast as he/she can, and b) avoid getting hit.

The other players on the team have a different role. They are to take out the other team’s players and “doctor”…. while protecting their own team “doctor”. Obviously, a team “doctor” who raises his risk of being taken out by the other team by running around crazily in the open attacking the other team isn’t a very “good” player. On the other hand, non-doctor members of the team should make the connection that they should take a hit for the team “doctor”. To instead selfishly play “for themselves,” not deflecting balls from their team “doctor” and allowing their doctor instead to be hit would mean the whole team loses. Such a good example for the kids, of the different roles and responsibilities on a team, of allowing a few losses. No child, however competitive or not, needs to be told that winning is important. But very few have a chance to be taught how to lose. Or why it’s not always a bad idea to lose. Pick Your Battles comes to mind.

On an aside, my last experience with a ball game was learning how to play netball for the now-merged OUB Bank/UOB Bank in the Singapore Corporate Games. There was this super high-achieving colleague who had served NS (National Service) as an Officer-ranked Commando. Extremely fit, he charged and flew across the court, deflecting, defending, attacking… until no amount of fitness or skill could make up for the fact he couldn’t be in two positions at once, and in the split second he took to barrel back to his own position, the other team scored via his unguarded position. (Obviously he never strayed that far after that.)

What do kids do at Multi Sports? Have Fun. That’s where the best learning happens isn’t it, and when they’re motivated is when it sticks. Both kids already insisted on coming back for more camps next chance they get. They improve their coordination and balance, stepping in and over rope, bench and hurdle courses to which they then also do a few rounds balancing bean bags on their heads, arms or tennis rackets, balls on cones.

This is Queen E running along a bench while balancing a bean bag on a tennis racket

This is Queen E running along a bench while balancing a bean bag on a tennis racket

This is like a tire run but without the tripping and falling over factor from stepping in and out of the tire

This is like a tire run but without the falling-over factor from stepping in and out of knee deep tires

Oh yeah – they also need to listen to instructions (in English of course)because what they need to do on the obstacle course changes frequently.

Camp's In

Early Birds Listening To Instructions In A Ring

Besides the attention to safety (hence always good for them to follow instructions) the kids are periodically also given directions like “stay behind the white lines,” or “don’t cross the red lines into the bench area” (when playing what looks like touch rugby)… (I do think it’s good practice especially for the safety element – when a basketball/ football/ netball/ etc etc game is going on little kids should really be more aware of the lines marking the court and not toddle or wander into a game and get tripped over)

This one’s Quiet Mouse Sneaking Past Sleeping Cat <blissful silence until the Mouse screams their lungs out fleeing from the newly-awakened Cat>

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And this is some "ice cream cone" balancing round where you need to wiggle through the hoop while yes, balancing the ice cream cone

And this is the “ice cream cone” balancing round where you need to wiggle through the hoop among others while yes, balancing the ice cream cone

The youngest participant has his mum valiantly following him through hoops and over benches (below 6, an adult attends camp with the child) – she tells me at break that he’s just turned 2; the oldest few (not pictured) look easily to be tweens, executing cartwheels and backward bends amongst themselves at Break. Most of them are attending with younger siblings of various ages.

Teens with younger sibs at a wider age gap are like a third parent. I believe the value of this to the older sibling is underrated – by reinforcing good values to their younger brothers and sisters, it’s a powerful reminder to themselves as well. Our pastor once described how he felt when his daughter caught him in a(n albeit harmless) white lie. Obviously he was raising her to value truthfulness, so that hurt. Our kids are probably our biggest immediate conscience. Y’know, because Life Sucks <shrugs> – like it wasn’t bad enough these selfish little monsters stomp on our hearts with their big squeaky Crocs, now we have to watch our hypocrisy levels as well, because apparently as they get older our biggest chance of not losing credibility with them is if we practice what we preach.

On a smaller level, I have mum friends who don’t eat candy in front of their kids. 

Yes I’m aware some of Rockstar’s friends now read this blog because you guys told him at school – buzz off, it’s not any of your mums. And none of us are stealing from your candy stash either, so there. (The Mum Doth Protest Too Much? ;D)

Occasionally a younger child cries from tiredness, or well, just because. I mention because both my kids have/had (past tense, in Rockstar’s case) “those” moments. I would not be surrounding my kids with a team full of highly disciplined child gymnasts from Romania.

intimidating - pic from Pinterest

Dis Child Even Got A Perfect 10 – Hong Kong, How Intimidating!!  – pinterest pic of Nadia Comenaci

shall be surrounding myself with fellow mums who say the most comforting thing in your time of need, over your kid rolling about doing a nutty on the floor: “No Judgement.” ;D

There are activities where the kids are grouped according to their ages, and activities where all the ages are mixed together, every day. They constantly reshuffle the teams so everyone gets both a taste of winning and losing, and well, while they don’t have the whole sugar-coated “Everyone’s a winner!” (the jury’s still out, even in My Loser Kid Should Get A Trophy) nonetheless they are casual about both winning and losing even as they (equally casually) reshuffle teams that are too strong or too weak. I overheard Rockstar commenting to Queen E that no one loses repeatedly, what with all the team changes. She really needs that, since she can very quickly and unexpectedly become super intense about winning and losing. Because of how it was done at camp, and so very quickly, she took everything in her stride and must’ve then gone Hey. Lost A Few. Won A Few. when the dust settled.

This is another good one - the kids have the option of trying to shoot the ball through the actual adult-height basket, a lower one, or the hula hoop.

This is another really good one – the kids have the option of trying to shoot the ball through the actual adult-height basket, a lower one attached to the pole, or the hula hoop.

There is a lot of attention to how individuals are doing, as well as the combinations in the small teams – no one is told they didn’t lose, while winners are celebrated….right before they are casually reshuffled next round so other kids get a chance. (In fact they reshuffle so much that watching, I cannot make out any overall winners or losers – everyone has had rounds where they win and lose – which I’m guessing is deliberate :P)

I think it’s a delicate balance, and there is no substitute for the human element, a good coach, to make a judgement call in a split second. In that instance when your kid is wide open looking for guidance (or just needs to be casually distracted away from Armageddon meltdown without realising it – that’s for you Queen E), you want the best qualified person on the court with your child. No excellent… system, or infrastructure, can replace what a human being actually does with it.

Also sometimes, it's just really fun to run back and forth piling and un-piling balls in the different corners and centre of the court based on the instructions called out by the coaches

Also sometimes, it’s just really fun to run back and forth piling and un-piling balls in the different corners and centre of the court based on the instructions called out by the coaches

I seem to not have taken a picture of What’s The Time Mr Wolf, but rest assured both young and older kids enjoyed it and played it together. The camp coaches were really, really good at keeping any potential naughtiness at bay, the kids constantly moving and distracted with game after constantly refreshed game.

(I’m not under the illusion we were with a bunch of perfectly behaving angels because the moment we stepped outside to try and catch a cab, two of ’em ganged up and pushed Queen E off their joint exploration of the fire hydrant by the roadside. Queen E bawled, I cuddled, she calmed down and tried again and they did the same – whereupon the helpers took out a bag of candy and bribed lured the kids away – but not before they turned to Queen E and said “I’ve got candy!” and proceeded to scarf the lot from a safe distance away, in front of her, telling her how yummy it was. NOT….. a complaint at all – unlike Rockstar at that age, Queen E is a lot tougher – gang up to push her off and she bawls but bounces right back… and remembers to throw more balls at you, next Dodgeball round haha the only reason I mention this incident is so you know some of the kids really are naughty off the courts… and on the court this is completely not evident because of how the coaches handle it. And btw, not all kids who attend ESF Camps are kids attending ESF schools, camp is open to all)

So anyway Selfie

So anyway Selfie

Epilogue: Can’t tell who won what but the kids did get a pack of trading cards each (not candy, yay!) – 

Also can’t believe Rockstar went through 2 years of ESF Kindy and reached Y5 before we made it to one of the ESF Sports Camps that go on all over Hong Kong… But well he started off in primary school with his hands full as one of the younger ones because of his birth month, was quite shy, and…

His reaction to ball sports used to be somewhere between this.... (gif from confusingmiddle.com)

His reaction to ball sports used to be somewhere between this…. (gif from confusingmiddle.com)

...and this. (gif also from confusingmiddle.com)

…and this. (gif also from confusingmiddle.com)

I can only imagine, that the only reasons people don’t pack these classes are because 1) they limit the class sizes, 2) not as many people as you would think actually know just how good these camps really are (the write-ups and advertisements really don’t do it justice, and 3) if you’re not native to Hong Kong and they change up locations and times and activities, it can be a bit daunting to keep track of.. but totally worth it!

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Wordless Wednesday

This day, Queen E decided her look required something extra

This day, Queen E decided her look required something extra

Rockstar borrowed it.

Rockstar borrowed it. 

(Wide fabric band with long scarf tail; wow did she go batsh*t when she saw it)

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Meet Loog. Hello, Rockstar.

Hello, Serendipity

Hello, serendipity

So we’ve had this dinky little toy guitar of Rockstar’s for years now, and Queen E has been messing with it for some time (also our decorative ukulele from Okinawa that has been dropped, broken, had its wooden bits used as a guitar pick…) So this Christmas we thought to try this Loog guitar, which comes with an instructional app and Youtubes for learning how to play it. (Pricey toyor cheap quick and dirty guitar course, you decide.)

The day it arrives off shopbop.com, Queen E is beside herself. A big thing marketing gimmick thing about the Loog is that it comes like a piece of Ikea furniture, with simple instructions, and the claim that a kid of about 8 can put it together in 15 minutes (which is supposed to be an additional selling point).

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Now, I’d never handled a stringed instrument before, and while Queen E literally hurls herself at the task of assembling it (with help, of course – she is after all 4), we are soon staring at an instrument that…… doesn’t make a sound.

We go over and over the bits in the box (there really aren’t that many), and I can’t find any….. plug-in wires or battery box or anything. What gives?

So while dropping Rockstar off at piano class, I take the guitar in and ask his music school if I can buy the power cords and things from them. They initially look at the instrument curiously. strings. Never seen one before.” They Google the Kickstarter video:

One of the guys behind the guitar accessories counter waves what looks like a pedometer about. “How are you tuning it?”

Me: There’s an App we’re supposed to download –

<clips pedometer-looking-thing on Queen E’s Loog> <spends several minutes> “Can’t really tune it.”

Me: Um… I haven’t handled one of these before, is no sound coming out of it due to you always needing to plug them in?

“Are you enrolled for guitar lessons here?”

Me: Erm, no, we’ve never considered learning the guitar, but then I saw this thing and my daughter seems to be really interested. We put it together, and now it doesn’t seem to work (bearing in mind I have no experience with stringed instruments). I thought we needed the plug and possibly some other stuff, which is why I’m bringing it to you. We would like to buy the rest of the missing stuff here.

“Even if I sold you the (something that looks like an amplifier) that’s going to cost HKD 4000 thereabouts.”

Me: Can’t I just buy the plug/ cord/ anything else missing from you and plug it into one of my speakers at home?

“Y-es…. But we don’t sell the cords for plugging into those. How much did you buy this for?”

Me: HKD 1000 thereabouts with a (standard Shopbop general merchandise) coupon. The guitar also comes with enough material to learn about 5 songs as a start.

“The pieces don’t fit that properly. Even if I sold you this one piece so it fits better, it could cost more than the entire guitar.”

“Also, this other part doesn’t have an additional section that allows you to adjust/ tune it. Up here”

Me: <seriously dismayed> What? I can’t believe it! This thing had awards, and all these instructions and the App and everything… Are you saying it completely doesn’t work???

“W-ell….”

Me: <very disappointed> Oh no. I can’t return it, I never expected it to be lousy because there are so many rave reviews! Also, (when I wasn’t looking) Queen E drew on it with a marker – I can’t send it back.

“Consider this a toy, no point buying any more add-ons. You’re better of buying a real guitar.”

Queen E is still excitedly dancing about with an on-sale guitar strap from the store draped over her shoulders. I buy the strap for her, then vow to go home and take a serious swing at this thing. I’m so mad I decide to seriously make this thing work no matter what……. or write a scathing letter to the Loog People. And post about it in the Shopbop product reviews.

Exiting his class, Rockstar sees my Still Upset About The Loog face and I tell him what happened.

Rockstar: Lemme see.

Me: Would it help, how d’you know anything about guitars?

Rockstar: We got to mess with guitars during Music in (his primary) school. They have uh, people answering our questions.

Me: I would roll my eyes if I weren’t so upset, can you be any more uppity about it…

(looks at it while we are walking out of the mall...)

(looks at it while we are walking out of the mall…)

Rockstar: <tightens and tightens strings><plucks at strings>There’s some sound now, right? <tightens some more> There… <twangs> There… Oops that one broke… sorry… You just needed to tighten them <twangs the remaining two strings> ….Did it come with an App?

Me:  <shows him the App> But…. the App is definitely easy to follow, but…… the problem was… <weakly> they said… the guitar…….

Rockstar: <twangs guitar><looks at me>

Me: <speechless>

Queen E: Yaaaaaayyyyy! There’sa sound <Rockstar hands her the guitar>

Me: <still flabbergasted> – but – but those guys actually play these things. H0w could they – they were messing with me, weren’t they? There’s no way they don’t know this right…

Rockstar: Guess so <shrugs>

So we go home, Rockstar also snaps the replacement string but there’s still enough string left to reuse it.

Rockstar volunteers to tune it with the App

Rockstar volunteers to tune it with the App

It actually works fine without any other accessories, at least you can actually tune it fine with the Loog App.


As a first “toy” where your kid can get up to playing it passingly well… none too shabby.

Here’s some other instructionals:

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Playlist of lessons here.

 

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