Three weeks of chess camps are over and i hope to be able to share with you what it feels like to be in the Sibun chess camp... Each week between 20-30 kids from all districts of Belize come for 4 nights 5 days adventure chess camps.
Each year there a theme for the camp. This year : passing the 7 skills to become a Sibun Chess Knight.
Back in history, in the 12th century each knight had to pass the test of 7 skills: swimming, horse riding, poetry writing, hawking, archery, boxing and chess. So, our kids in order to become Sibun Kingdom Chess Knights had to pass the test of 7 skills as well: swimming, horse riding, poetry writing, badminton, ping-pong, pentathlon and chess. Each day's schedule included time for training of all those skills and on the last day of camp everybody was tested. Not everybody was able to pass, but Everybody did their absolutely best to learn those skills.
Being in the camp is an incredible experience and to illustrate it I am inviting you to look at the pictures below. With this view from Sibun Jungle Lodge
.... kids were starting their days at the camp with their pentathlon training:
We wrote poems and decorated them,, I wish you could see how many creative poets and illustrators we had in each group!
On the last night of camp each chess player had to present their poems- recite it in front of the whole group. It shocked all the coaches how confident all the presenters were, how much energy and creativity they put into their presentations. You all know how difficult it is to stand in front of the whole group and do a presentation. But after 4 days of camp, they all could do it with the smile on the face and a brave look. All the chess players developed the ability to overcome their fears and pass one more test of the chess knights!
Poems were not only about chess, they were about everything. Here is an example of one:
Happiness feels like my little sister's hug
Happiness sounds like a singing bird
Happiness sounds my mom's laughter
Happiness looks like the smile of my sister
Happiness smells like a beautiful rose
Happiness feels like hugging a puppy...
A lot of time was also spent reading..
And of course, geography! By the end of the camp, our chess players could not only name the most recent chess world champions or names of the grandmasters from all over the world, they could easily name and show the countries they are from.
They worked in groups and were excited about the world on the map!
It was not easy at first to locate all the 43 countries that we studied,,, but studying together helped a lot!
Art, I wish that you could see all the intricate "stained glass" designs that the kids came up with . Here is just one of them!
And of course chess... playing chess everywhere..
Learn from your mistakes, simply means going over the game that they played and analyze it.
To bring our game on the next level, we needed the expertize of the higher level instructors: watching at night CD with the commentary by Grand Master Maurice Ashley who goes over the most famous games in history and analyzes them with passion and excitiment that makes everybody to learn more and more !
At the beginning of the camp we introduced the concept of visualization,which helps not only with playing chess, but in any other subject and developes an incredible visual memory. We demonstrated it by having one of the most advanced players in the country, David Martinez, to play the frist few moves of the game while he was blindfolded. And after that we did a number of activities and lessons.
To our absoluteastonishments by the end of the camp, one of the players ( you see him getting a special award for that) was able to play 30 moves game against one of the coaches. He was playing blindfold and was able to remember the position of all the pieces and make the moves by calling out the moves in notation and hearing the response from the opponent. He played the whole game without looking at the board even once!
As you remember one of the 7 skill that kids had to learn to become a chess knight, was horse riding. This was a great gift for us from Banana Bank owner John Carr. He not only donated lesson and horses for all 3 camps, but also made a very memorable presentation on Trust
.. and to prove his points he got one of our players on the back of the horse and.....
after 40 mins ride, they felt pretty confident!
It is always sad to say good buy,,, camp is a place where players and coaches come from all different district, where we learn from each ohter, about each other and hope to see each other again at the future events!
I have to tell you though, that those camps are not possible without our most dedicated volunteers: in addition to myself, Edgar and Darell(the most dedicated Caves Branch Guides), David Coombs, Micah Williams and Jose Teul, we had 3 coaches from Toledo( Adinaldo Requena, Policarpo Cus, Rodolfo Shal) who volunteered their time away from home and families for all 3 weeks of the camps, Coaches from Corozal( Humberto Juarez and Humberto Sanchez) for 2 weeks, coach from Belize city( David Martinez) who traveled every week to assist on the weekend when he had time off from work, Stann Creek coach( Ray Lawrence) and a number of Junior Coaches, as well as chaperones who came with kids and assisted in every single activity. I didn't mention all the coaches names, but believe me it was a truly national effort, coaches from all over the country working together as a team!
Without their time and energy these camps would not be possible, THANK YOU!!!
And here is one more poem for you to enjoy, written by one of the chess players in this camp. How can you not like chess after reading it?
Chess smells like a spooky battlefield
Chess sounds like joyful shouts
Chess feels like goodness
Chess looks like a battlefield before the battle
Chess tastes like the sweet taste of victory
Chess smells like a blossoming flower
Chess feels like you are the King of the Kings
Chess looks like the future
Chess tastes like a sour taste of a loss
Chess sounds like small laughter
Chess feels like you are Mighty
Chess looks over you!