This past weekend, Leana, Edgardo, and I took 18 7th graders to Ocean City, NJ. We left Saturday morning around 8:45 and arrived at Greate Bay Racquet and Fitness Club, my old squash club, around 11am. Upon arrival, students’ eyes immediately widen as they migrated towards the two large doubles courts. Around 8 club members were there to hit with the kids. Two members bravely got on the doubles court with some of the kids and taught them how to play and eventually had 4 students on the court by themselves at one point. After about 2 hours, we eat the local famous pizza. We did, however, get complaints about New Jersey water ¨tasting nasty¨??
After lunch, we walked on the boardwalk to the amusement park, where we spent the next 2 hours screaming, laughing, and becoming extremely nauseous from the pizza we ate 20 minutes before (not the greatest idea). Still, the kids had tons of fun and probably went all each ride about 4-5 times.
Thanks to a few family friends and the parents of a Columbia squash player, we were able to arrange home stays for the kids. At first they were resistant to being split up from their friends, but once they saw where they would be sleeping, they responded with ¨when we come here next year, can we stay here?¨. The next morning we woke early to make sure we had time to ride surreys on the boardwalk. Local squash enthusiast and my old gym teacher hooked us up with 1-9person surrey and 2-6 person surreys. The kids took turns driving (nearly hitting every other pedestrian). We took a break and headed to the beach to let the kids run around, a few even bravely put their feet in the water. Afterwards, we packed the vans up and made the 2.5 hour trek to Blair Academy. The squash coach greeted us and had a student give a tour of the campus and let us play on their courts. At the end, numerous students came to us asking how to sign up for the school. Overall, it was a great trip! The kids had a great time playing squash and bonding with their team. They expressed much interest in doing this again some time, but staying longer.
Highlights included: student respect to the families who housed them, Jessica and Alveann being amazed that their house had an elevator in it, the look on the kids’ face on the rides, seeing the students bond with each other, students going to bed before 3am, student engagement on tour, students saying they want to go back.
Big shoutout to Edgardo and Leana for helping make this trip happen and having great energy throughout the trip!
-Caleb, Academic Director
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