It was Sunday, July 15, and the epic soccer showdown between 3B and 1B had just ended. Since the rain had stopped before that game started, I abandoned my car by the Herbert W. Armstrong College soccer pitch and casually strolled across the grassy field to the John Amos Field House. Just outside the southeast entrance, dorm 1G and the track-and-field staffers greeted me before I made my way into the gymnasium.
Inside the gym, I saw probably the most athletic group of sports instructors at Philadelphia Youth Camp 2018: the basketball staff, consisting of head instructor Gino Chi and assistants Gianni Welsh, Leilani King, and Erica Amos. They were running some sort of extremely complicated basketball drill that involved running, dribbling, passing, and shooting in a completely unintelligible order.
In a few minutes, the blue boys of dorm 6B would take the gym by force to square off against the light-blue fellows of dorm 2B, so I asked the basketball staffers about dorm 6B. Led by counselor Justice Brown, 6B was “serious” and “manly” in their approach to basketball, the staff told me.
After jokingly asking Mr. Welsh if he would recommend that the losers of the upcoming contest join the winning dorm due to his continued support of a certain traitor of our beloved Oklahoma City Thunder, I ventured into the adjoining hallway where the two dorms had gathered in preparation of besieging the battlefield.
Dorm 6B was fired up to hear that they were thought of as “serious” and “manly,” so they belted out a low-pitched “hoo, hoo, hoo!” Truly terrified, I returned to the gymnasium. At exactly 12:10 p.m., the scheduled start of class, 6B could be heard demanding, “Let us in! Let us in!” As upbeat music pumped through the speaker system, the basketball instructors obliged, leading both dorms in a lap around the perimeter. My brother, Micah (whose last name will not be included here), shadow-boxed to the Rocky theme song.
Mr. Chi and company proceeded to lead the dorms in a pair of warmup games that left all spectators bellowing in laughter. In “bear-crawl tag,” those who were “it” scampered on hands and feet to chase down their fleet-footed victims, who would then join them in capturing everyone else. In “link tag,” each person tagged would join an ever-lengthening chain of interlocked arms before charging in unison toward all those who were still free.
As the dorms participated in the aforementioned impossible basketball drill, I remarked to 6B assistant counselor Nikolai Guillar about the perhaps historic occurrence of having campers named Elijah and Elisha in the same pyc dorm. “The mantle is right here,” he joked.
After dorm 6B recorded a faster time than 2B both times through the obstacle course, 6B split into its A-Team under Mr. Brown—Micah, Wyatt, Chris, Aaron, and Elijah—and B-Team under Mr. Guillar—Azariah, Elisha, Zach, Daniel, and Grayson.
“I want you guys to be playmakers,” Mr. Brown admonished the A-Team, “but, at the same time, play within the system.” By “system,” he was referring to an offensive set known as the Read and React. Essentially, you pass the ball, then cut to an open spot on the court.
The “A” game went pretty much as I expected. Micah is right-handed and prefers to dribble to his right, which is exactly what he did on numerous occasions to slice through the defense and lay the ball in the basket. I tried to yell to 2B to force him to dribble left, but my cries went unheeded. While Micah handled the bulk of the workload, his teammates chipped in a timely rebound, pass, or shot, and 6B cruised to a 26-10 victory.
Afterward, the 6B B-Team told me that they had fallen, 14-6. Perhaps my absorption with watching my brother play had kept me from seeing much of the game taking place on the other court. However, it is very difficult to watch both courts simultaneously, as any spectator can attest.
As the basketball staffers and the dorm counselors huddled to discuss the proceedings of the past 75 minutes, I joined a large circle of 6B and 2B campers, who yelled at each other, “We love basketball, yes we do, we love basketball, how about you?” As 6B’s vocal power overwhelmed 2B, I defected to the 2B half of the circle to contribute to their replies, quickly going hoarse in the process.
With the flurry (not Micah’s last name) of festivities coming to an end, dorm 6B congratulated 2B, and then departed to lunch setup duty in the dining hall.