The Words of the Baughman Family
Pres. James Baughman explains a game to the children
On your mark! Get set! Go!" These are the words that could be heard echoing throughout the Belvedere estate in Tarrytown, New York this Fourth of July during the first annual "Blessed Children's Olympics Day." Sponsored by the Unification Church, this day, which was packed full of individual and team events, was attended by approximately 250 children between kindergarten and sixth grade. The children, including their parents and many younger brothers and sisters, were gathered from the greater New York area to participate in the day's festivities.
As the children and their families arrived, they found the Belvedere lawns decorated with brightly colored flags marking the areas for the various events. The first thing children needed to do upon arrival was report to the registration desk where two important things happened to them: 1) They were assigned to groups made up of about ten children of their same grade level for the morning activities, and 2) their level was equally divided, according to age, between the "Red Team" and the "White Team". Thus, 125 children belonged to the "Red Team", and 125 children belonged to the "White Team". Throughout the day, children would "earn" points for their team whenever they won or placed in an event. At the end of the day, the team with the most points would be the winner for the day!
Participants run the three-legged race
Following the initial flurry of registration, everyone assembled at 9:30 for the Opening Ceremony, which was held on a stage overspread by a beautiful banner made for the Olympics Day. The Opening Ceremony included a greeting by Dr. Hugh Spurgin, which was followed by opening remarks by Rev. Joong Hyun Park. Following a prayer led by Mrs. Sang Reng Chi, Hyung-Jin Nim and Jeung Jin Nim concluded the opening ceremony by leading the children in the Blessed Children's Olympics Pledge:
1. We lead our lives for God, True Parents, True Family and humanity. We pledge to become the pioneers of true love.
We are the fruits of True Parents' true love. We pledge to unite and help one another to become people of true love.
We build our self-confidence through making our mind and body strong and healthy. We pledge to become the leaders of the future.
During the morning events, the 17 groups of younger children (K-2) competed in traditional Fourth of July events such as: egg-in-the-spoon race, balloon pop races, obstacle courses, etc.
At the same time, the older children were also competing. However, the organization of the older children was somewhat different. Children were divided into Jr. and Sr. Red and White teams of each grade level. The teams competed against each other earning points for their overall team. During the morning competition was limited to boys against boys and girls against girls. The Jr. and Sr. groups competed in kickball, relay races such as a three-legged-race, a relay race through an obstacle course, and a treasure hunt.
The children jump their way to the finish line
After the morning events, everyone had time to enjoy a picnic lunch on the Belvedere lawn. Families either ate food that they brought with them or else they purchased hot dogs and sodas from the concession stand. Participants were treated to McCol to help quench their thirst after the busy morning.
The afternoon events were the highlight of the day for many participants. During the afternoon, all of the children competed in events involving everyone on the Red and White teams-125 Red team members vs. 125 White team members! From the morning competition, it was discovered that the Red team was leading by only 7 points! Either team still had a chance to win the day-long competition, since each event in the afternoon would be worth 10 points!
The teams began by competing in a tug-of-war competition. There were two tug-of-war competitions: the Red team won one and the White team won the other -- the Red team was still ahead by 7 points!
Following the tug-of-war, the Red and White team competed in a "Balloon-Pop" competition. Participants had a balloon tied with a piece of yarn to their ankle. The object of the game was to pop as many of the opposing team's balloons as possible. The team with the most remaining balloons at the end won. This event was also held twice to compensate for different age groups. As with the tug-of-war, both teams won the event once! The Red team still led by only 7 points!
The "Balloon-Pop" event was followed by an "Under-Over" contest. In this event, the two teams lined up. They would have to pass a ball from one end of their line to the other. However, they must hand the ball to the person behind them, and it must be handed over the head by the first person, then under the legs by the next, and so on. The team that won two out of the three trials in this contest would be awarded with 10 points. If the White team could win this event, it would be in the lead! After a great deal of effort and team unity, the winner was: "Go Red Go!" Yes, that's right, the Red team won the "Over-Under" event. This win gave the Red team a 17 point lead.
The final event was a "Water-Brigade". In this event, the teams were once more lined up. Each person was given a cup, and each team had a full pail of water at one end of their line and an empty pail of water at the other end of their line. In order to win this event, the teams needed to transfer the water from the full bucket to the empty bucket. This was done by the team member closest to the full bucket filling up his/her cup with water, turning to the next person in line, filling his/her cup, and so on. The water was poured from cup to cup down the line and into the empty bucket. The team with the most water in their bucket at the end of the time won. Once again, the Red team won. Thus, at the end of the day, the Red team won by only 27 points -- a very close competition!
The day ended with a closing ceremony in which Dr. James Baughman and Mrs. Sang Reng Chi presented children from both teams with ribbons and prizes. Following the singing of "Tongil Nore", a closing prayer, and mansei, children and adults alike reluctantly said good-bye, parting from the friends and good times they found that day.
The genesis of the Olympics was from the inspiration and direction of True Parents who wanted to have a day of fun and fellowship for the Blessed Children through which they could develop themselves as God's children. The theme of the Olympics Day was "Pioneering Harmony and Excellence." Through the development of harmonious friendships and development of self-confidence and physical excellence, the children were able to experience part of the joy of being God's children.