Monthly Archives: July 2010

Tennis Camp

I’ve been back from Cornell University’s tennis camp for a few days but I never found a good time until now to write something.

Okay, first, the food. It was completely and utterly (excuse the cliché) disappointing. But it was so good. Let me explain. Compared to my school’s cafeteria food… oh wait, comparing Cornell food to my Junior High lunch is beyond insulting to the University chefs. Let’s not go there. Cornell’s dining hall comprised buffet tables with a myriad of cuisines. There was a “Hot Traditional” area with different dishes each day: quiches, pastas, lemon sautéed cod. There were Italian foods, Chinese foods, burgers, French fries, cereals, ice cream, cherry pies, German chocolate cakes, raspberry flavored water, kiwi-strawberry flavored water, Butterfingers Cappuccino, hot chocolate, grape juice, orange juice, and the most heavenly chocolate milk. I apologize if your stomach is now secreting gastric juices and hurts later.

So how is that at all disappointing? I think my expectations were just insanely high. I have never heard anything bad about Cornell food (would I be the first to criticize its “Award-Winning” dining?). Everyone says the food is absolutely divine. My mouth had been watering since the day I signed up a few months ago. I think my subconscious had been dreaming of gourmet lobster stews and Belgian chocolate mousse and acres and acres of smiling pastries waiting to be tasted. So when I got there, yeah… reality check. But don’t let this discourage you from eating at Cornell! The food was delicious. It’s just not the best I’ve eaten. Besides, I just had too high of expectations.

Now, the tennis. I’ve improved my groundstrokes (my forehand and backhand) but my serve got considerably weaker. For you tennis players out there, I used to have an Eastern Forehand grip but the coaches had me use a Continental grip now (it turns out that almost all the students there already used a Continental grip… what the heck?). It has been difficult to serve holding the racquet a different way but hopefully it’ll help in the long run and I’ll be able to get my serve back before tennis season starts.

At camp, we had to play a truly awful game called “Up and Down the River” (even the name is stupid). We had to play to eleven points on HALF a court. If you lose, you move down half a court. Win and move up half a court. First we had to start on the court we think best matches our abilities which is ridiculous because we barely had any idea of how the other campers played. So while I was debating with myself about which court (and there are six courts, the first being the best) I belong to, courts one through five all became occupied. Super. I moved up to Court Four and later to Court Two although there were people on Court Three better than me. Basically “Up and Down the River”  is part luck (depending on whom you play), part skill, and part absurdity. Still, I admit the game has a redeeming quality. It doesn’t help with technique, but “Up and Down the River” tests the emotional aspects of the sport (i.e. not freaking out before a match).

This camp has been my first overnight camp. I did pretty well with organization. I haven’t lost anything there. But the first two nights, I didn’t sleep very well. I probably just had trouble adjusting. The dorm cot is so uncomfortable too (and it squeaks)!

I met some really great friends and have some of their Facebooks. Sad to say, however, tennis camp was just like school – there were cliques and everyone talked about each other behind their backs (I’m unsure if this is proper grammar). Overall, it was a nice experience. I would love to attend again next year.

Have you guys been to any camps this summer?



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This summer, I’m volunteering at the St. John’s Senior Center by tutoring elementary school kids. The problem is that I’ve never really tutored anyone before. I have helped some classmates with math problems or proofreading an essay, but that doesn’t really count. So, basically, I have no idea how to teach.

A few days ago, I worked with a boy named Zachary who is going into 1st grade and needs reading help. I had him try to read Young Cam Jansen and the Baseball Mystery:

Courtesy of Google Image

At the Senior Center, there is a long table covered with elementary level books. I had no clue what a rising first grader would read, so I just snatched the first thing I saw, which was the Cam Jansen book. It proved to be too difficult of a read. Zachary attacked every word by sounding out individual letters. For example, bench becomes “buh eh en kuh huh.” Now, obviously you can read… since you’re on my blog – you know that doesn’t work. So I abandoned the Cam Jansen book after seeing  Zachary struggle with the first two sentences.  I began a mission of teaching him how groups of words would sound.

When I started, I thought it would be easy. Just have him memorize the sounds “ee,” “all,” “kn,” etc. Okay, no. It is so difficult. After teaching him “ch,” “sh,” and “th,” he forgot all of them. So I resorted to drawing pictures and making up stories (I thought they were clever, actually). I scribbled a little guy with his index finger to his mouth saying, “Be quiet!” next to “sh.” To help him remember that the K is silent in “know,” I told him a story:

“Okay, so, you are a spy named Agent Z! The letter K is Agent K and she’s on your side. But the letter N is on the other side. He’s bad. Agent K is spying on Agent N so don’t say K because you don’t want Agent N to know that Agent K is there. You guys are spies so be secretive about everything.”

I asked him if he understood the story and he nodded yes. “So what sound do k and n make?” I asked.

“Kuh nuh,” he said. Agent K is very disappointed. I was too. But I smiled and said, “Almost!”

I had to retell the story (blah :(). And then I asked him, “So now, what do k and n put together sound like?”


Nuh. Nuh. Oh my God, he just said, “Nuh!”  That had to be the sweetest thing I heard all week. “Nuh.” I would have scooped him up from the metal chair that’s too big for him and held him like Rafiki held baby Simba… if that didn’t make me look like a pedophile. Yes, I was that proud.

The tutoring sessions are only one hour long a day (not counting the half-hour bingo games). From just that one hour, you cannot believe how much I appreciate teachers now (the good ones, at least). I’ve always regarded teachers as adults who take attendance, give detentions,  pass out assignment sheets, and keep order in the classroom. No more of that. They have to teach and teaching is hard work.

And it’s rewarding. Remember how excited I was when Zachary mastered the “kn” sound? That explains it all. 🙂

Dang it, I have tennis camp so I won’t be able to volunteer next week’s sessions. But I am so looking forward to finding more rewards in the little kids I teach (yeah, that sounds wrong) the following week! Did I even mention how cute they are?

I’ll keep you updated about tennis and tutoring! See you later!


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A few days ago, I received an e-mail notifying me that two of my poems have been accepted for publication in a literary magazine! My. First. Publications. Oh, my God. I screamed and I think I might have also thrown a few swear words if my parents weren’t around. So you get the idea. I was happy.

The literary magazine is chixLIT, which is for girls ages 13-17. You can learn more about it on its website: Sure, it’s not a big magazine, but step by step, right?

Anyway, changing the topic, in my first entry I wrote about writing snailmail to friends over the summer. In response to that, I got three addresses. Three?! Just three? Cough, cough that means I need more. I’d really like to write to you guys, assuming that I like you (which I probably do). 😀

This a relatively short entry. I sort of like it this way. This way, I can write a little each day instead of typing a 1,000 word entry at 1 AM every five days. 🙂

Thanks for reading! I love you guys!


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