Written by Jake Lloyd
(View all Jamboree! photos in our Flickr and Storify albums)
The DC SCORES Jamboree! was such a big event Saturday, a team drove four hours to participate.
That's right -- the America SCORES New York team from Hamilton Grange Middle School in Harlem made the drive south to take part in the 21st edition of the culminating event of the spring DC SCORES season.
Unofficially, this marked the first time a team from one of America SCORES' 14 sites visited another city to participate in an event. And judging from the expressions on the faces of the 50 or so Hamilton students as they played in one soccer game after another, they enjoyed the Jamboree! just as much as the 50 DC teams that congregated on the large grassy expanse at Anacostia Park.
The day started at 5:45am as DC SCORES staff and volunteers began arriving. Why so early? Because 30 soccer goals needed to be set up and nets strung. Because dozens of tents in the booth area needed to be erected, and the supplies for each activity laid out ready for one team after another to visit (with no breaks). Because water stations needed to be placed all across the large area, and carrying or pulling huge jugs is no easy task.
Thomas, Bancroft, Hart, Tubman, Aiton, Seaton, Thomson, Miner, Brightwood, Moten, LaSalle-Backus, Imagine Hope, Orr, Raymond, Anne Beers, KIPP QUEST, H.D. Cooke -- the list goes on.
As the City Cup games concluded, Program Director Sean Hinkle huddled all the elementary schools around DJ RBI's booth, reminded everyone what soccer games are all about -- sportsmanship -- and then proceeded to point to all the teams, eliciting yells of "BARNARD!" and "TRUESDELL!" and "PAYNE!" and "LECKIE!" The list goes on.
A couple hundred yards away, former DC SCORES staff member and emcee extraordinaire for several SCORES poetry slams Charity Blackwell was doing the same kind of call-and-response for middle schools.
And then it was go time, 2,000 kids in different colored shirts dispersing and heading to the first stop of many to begin a long, exhilarating, entertaining, and fulfilling day.
To give you a sense of everything that Jamboree! provided for its participants, here's what one school, Thomas Elementary, did during the five-hour event:
9:25 am -- The Tigers gather around a smattering of large letters on the grass under the shade of a few large trees and play "word relays." Following the prompts of Clark Construction and other volunteers, the kids spell out words and phrases related to their experience in the program.
Meanwhile the other half of the team tests their bean bag-throwing accuracy as they alternate tossing the bags into different circles and triangles 10 feet away from them.
9:50am -- Time to prepare those skills for the games! The Tigers head to their next station where a group of volunteers lead them through dribbling, heading and other soccer essential skills.
10:15am -- Game time! The Tigers in their white uniforms take on Miner in a girls game followed by a boys game. Smiles are everywhere as the kids race up and down the field.
11:05am -- Let's decorate! The Tigers head to the facepainting station, where they give orders -- their jersey number, a heart, stars, etc. -- to the incredibly artistic volunteers.
11:30am -- Looking their best, it's time for Thomas' photo shoot in front of the D.C. United banner. But not before they get autographs from pro soccer player Patrick Nyarko. After their official team photo, they celebrate by testing out their hula hooping skills while moving to DJ RBI's beats.
11:55am -- It's back to the action as the Tigers take on Marie Reed, a school from the Westside of the city that they've never played before. It's a cool feeling getting to meet and play against a team they haven't faced before.
12:45pm -- Finally, lunch! Having played two soccer games, hula hooped, and more, the Tigers devour their healthy sandwiches, fruit and veggies provided by Revolution Foods.
1:10pm -- It's arts & crafts time -- and a chance for the Tigers to digest their food -- with the awesome volunteer squad from Wells Fargo. Aided by the company's volunteers, the kids use popsicle sticks and glue to create a framed photo of the team that was taken during the DC SCORES season. A memento to take with them!
1:35pm -- Final game of the day! The Tigers take on Tubman Elementary, another Westside school from a neighborhood 6.7 miles away from their school. Jamboree! truly brings different parts of DC together.
2:25pm -- Exhausted but still wearing those smiles, the Tigers begin the long walk across the field to their bus. Sure, their day didn't include the Penya Barcelonista soccer shooting station -- test your accuracy! -- or the November Project-led relay race station where the competition was fierce but the giggles of joy frequent all day long. But overall, they had experienced a lot, closing out the spring DC SCORES season with a bang. They got to hang out with D.C. United mascot Talon. They got to check out all of the DC SCORES teams' service-learning poster boards demonstrating the impact each program made in their community. And they got to do everything else we just mentioned.
The same can be said of the other 49 sites that had programming this spring, and those kids from New York who made the trip. The middle schoolers enjoyed a nonstop action-packed soccer tournament that included three divisions -- boys, girls and co-ed -- and 57 games including championships.
The largest Jamboree! in DC SCORES history wouldn't have been possible without the hundreds of volunteers -- many of whom stayed the entire day from setup until the last scraps of trash were picked up from the field after 3pm. A huge thank you to partners D.C. United, FAAR, Wells Fargo, Clark Construction, the Goldman Sachs volunteer group, November Project DC, Penya Barcelonista, the Edmund Burke School volunteers, Revolution Foods, and of course DJ RBI.
View all Jamboree! photos in our Flickr album.