Community Service Part Two- The School Olympics Fun Day.
Yes, fun day. Fun damn it.
A school fundraiser, in the park, on a beautiful crisp winter’s afternoon.
Because it was ‘run’ by year 3, year 3 parents were expected to do the lion’s share of the volunteering. And we did.
We refereed soccer, adjudicated netball, judged gymnastics. Made cakes, kept score, put things up, took things down.
Families were sorted into countries with two to three families in each. Each country travelled as a pack around 10 ‘events’. The events included the three legged 100m sprint, tug-o-war and shot put.
The idea was to have fun. And raise a bit of money for the school. Which we did.
There was a costume element with a prize for the best dressed team. Some teams went all out. The Christensens were part of Ireland. My husband excelled by wearing a green leprechaun hat with attached beard for most of the afternoon. I wore a top hat, which informed everyone I was Irish on St Patrick’s day.
My job as volunteer was to assemble 2 beach volleyball courts/nets and referee one of them. The Dad who was rostered to ref the other court and I assembled the nets, in such a way that has never been done before and will never be repeated. I doubt even we could repeat it. Let’s just say one of them was perfect for kids (or perhaps the seven dwarfs). The other was the right height but you couldn’t touch it or it fell over. Together we were a great team.
Exactly one minute after we finished assembling the final net, the first team appeared over the horizon.
The rules for our beach volleyball were simple but didn’t have much to do with volleyball. Each team divided themselves up on either side of the net. They had to pass the ball across the net as many times as possible in five minutes without dropping it. If they dropped, I started the count again. I took their best score.
Kids under 10 were allowed to throw and catch. Adults were supposed to use proper volleyball moves. Believe me when I tell you a bit of volleyball in high school and watching the girls win gold in the Olympics does not make one an expert volleyballer. After a few disasters, I let everyone throw and catch.
Due to the varied ages, sizes and respect for rules of each team, the scores varied wildly. As a ref, I got better as I went along and was generous to teams full of small people. Especially if their parents were including them and not just passing the ball back and forth over their heads (yes this happened).
The beach was so small that if the ball was dropped (really, really often) it would often roll into the water and begin to drift alarmingly out to sea. I decided ball retrieval was beyond my scope of duties but did begin to introduce ‘ocean time’, a concept similar to football injury time. This gave people plenty of time to get their shoes off and wade in for the ball without losing any of their precious five minutes.
The five minutes were more precious to some teams than others.
A few things I noticed.
1. Some people, no matter where you put them, are ultra competitive. They just can’t help it. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing beach volleyball with a bunch of people barely over 110cm, they’re still playing hard to win. And they’re not above attempting to influence (hassle) the ref to give them a higher score. Really? Because it’s so important?
2. Some kids just aren’t sporty. And there’s nothing you can do about it. They may be the children of sporty parents, some of whom totally get their kid and are dealing with the fact that they may not have parented a future world champion in -insert sport here-. Others can’t get their head around it and the result is stressful for everyone.
3. Kids are born to have fun. They may not want to play the game you want them to play, but they’re going to play anyway. Some played volleyball, some wrestled their brother on the ground, some started building sandcastles, out in the sun, with their parents and friends near the beach, it didn’t matter. They were having a ball.
And that made us all very happy. But seven shades of knackered by the end of the day. Fun is very tiring.