This past Friday was one of our favorite events of the year: Track and Field Day! For those of you who know Ian and I from the past, you know we both competed on track teams in high school, so we always enjoy helping out. This was the second year Ian has been the starter. I always enjoy helping coach the jumps and relays in the weeks leading up to the big day. For a few weeks now the kids have worked hard during PE class to practice various Track and Field events. The entire school is divided into four teams. Each team chooses a color and team name and creates a team cheer. This year Heidi was on the "Blue Baracudas". Kay was a member of "The Big Red", and Tom's first ever field day team was the "Green Mambas". All three of them had a fantastic time!
The day begins at the National Stadium; all the teams enter marching together, after each presents their cheers, the sport begins! At our school, we don't have a track, so it is extra special that we have this day of competition in such a fine facility! Most of the traditional track and field events are represented, and though three weeks doesn't make anyone an expert, we have a lot of fun. The younger crowd (K-2)chose from the 200m, 100m, & 60m races, a shuttle relay, the hula hoop toss (the younger version of the discus), and broad jump. 3rd-4th grade also can participate in the long jump,a team relay and the 400m. Heidi's class (5/6)also add the high jump, shot put, a 4x 100m relay, 1500, and 800 onto their possibilities. Kay and Tom's ages also have lots of fun games in the infield such as a sack race & three legged race, among others. For each event you enter, you receive a point for your team. You also get points if you win an event in your age category. Given that we are a small school, sometimes you place just because you enter!
Kay and Tom participated in everything. They both said their favorite race was the "long curvy one" (ie the 200m). They both did a great job, even staying in their lanes, which is a feat in and of itself for the younger elementary kids! It will be interesting to see how they develop physically as they grow older, both of them were on the faster end of their classes. Heidi signed up to do the 1500m this year, among other things. I was very proud of her! She did a great job in her first ever long distance race: holding her form and running hard to the very end. She wasn't sure if the 1500m was her favorite or if the 100m was her favorite. It is fun having her take more of an interest in athletic things and even choosing to try something that is difficult and requires lots of effort and training!
After the morning at the track, we adjourn to the school for lunch and fun games in the afternoon. The kids played a very fun game with water. It was especially fun as everyone was so hot! After arranging their teams in height order, they were each given a plastic cup. The first person in line filled their cup, then had to pour the water into the next person's cup HOLDING THE CUP ON THEIR HEAD the whole time. The recipient also had to keep their own cup on their own head. They were trying to fill a small bowl at the end of the line. It was funny to see the littlest trying so hard to aim for the bowl and to successfully pour... nothing! or only little drips into the bowl. As you can imagine, everyone got quite wet! The game ruptured into a big water fight when near the end the principal got out the hose and hosed everyone down. Much fun was had by all! Here is Tom at the end of the green team line waiting for the water to come his way.
The thing I love best about field day every year is the glimpse of true community I come away with: a member of one team cheering on his competitor on another, the gracious welcoming and inclusion of home schoolers from all over Niger (and even Burkina this year!)on the various teams. The littlest kids are cheered for and helped by the big ones whether it be in showing them where to go for their leg of the relay or helping them find their water bottle. The big ones, in turn, have the respect and all the cheers the littlest kids can muster while they are competing. It is truly a joint effort and every member is valued whether they can contribute point wise or not. Each year, I appreciate the healthy competition that I see lived out and am so thankful for the models my children have in the realms of winning losing with grace, encouraging one another, and valuing every member.