Niall Harman, ADP Administrator, joined his first ADP Camp this August and writes about the weekend.
My first ADP Camp began with fencers, coaches and BF staff all descending on the David Ross Sports Village at the University of Nottingham on a startlingly sunny bank holiday weekend. It was great to meet the athletes and staff and finally put some faces to names I was already very familiar with, although it proved to be a challenge to remember that many new names and faces in such a short space of time. The real test will come in October, when we’ll see just how many I remember after a couple of months.
The Camp opened with a briefing from Steve Kemp, Pathways Director, about what to expect from the three-day camp. After splitting off into weapon groups, each group sought to identify ways that BF can increase the effectiveness of the ADP Camp with fencers identifying their goals. It proved to be a busy first day for everyone involved with hours of practising and training across all weapons.
As part of #BFLearningWeek, the training was observed by those undergoing their Level 4 coach education and away from the training hall, these coaches delivered presentations to a panel of experts. Online, there was a para fencing referee session with Chris Farren.
The day closed with a body scan from the team at the True Athlete Project (TAP) who were part of the team throughout all three days of the Camp.
On Sunday, the sabre group were joined by para fencer Leo Pugliese. This is only the second camp that BF has been able to invite para fencers to since BF took over responsibility for para fencing in April. ADP Camps such as this one allow for integrated learning and competition, with Leo joining the poules session. The sabre group also undertook a task where small teams had to build a protective container for an egg to ensure it survived being hurled over the side of a balcony. This proved to an opportunity to work on teamwork and to complete and delegate tasks under pressure. With time pressure and limited resources, they had to agree a plan of action to ensure their designs worked and their precious cargo survived the harrowing journey to the ground floor.
A highlight of the day for the epee group was an unconventional twist on the card game Uno, where fencers paired up in teams of two to compete but also to draw cards, with different colour cards affecting their bouts in different ways. As in any game of Uno, the appearance of a wild card proved to be very dramatic as it resulted in the scores of the two competing teams switching round.
The focus for the foil group was teamwork, with teams of two being brought together in a random selection to compete against other teams. This allowed the fencers to consider how to warm up, prepare and plan alongside a teammate, while also allowing them to provide one-on-one support and guidance.
TAP’s body scans on Sunday moved into more challenging environments, asking athletes if they could block everything out and find focus and reset in a noisy competition environment. They did this by working on the balcony above the hall while fencing loudly continued below and some had the chance to do so outside and catch a rare bit of bank holiday sunshine. Outside of the hall, #BFLearningWeek continued with day two of the Level 4 coaching course and Kukri, BF’s partner and kit provider, had content creators across the site throughout the day.
On Monday, the Camp welcomed a number of athletes from Pentathlon GB, including Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medallist Kate French. They joined the epee fencers in a full competition scenario. The foil group did the same, with a full competition scenario running until the end of the day. Unlike the previous two days, fencers were left to do their own warm-ups, enabling coaches and staff to see the different needs and personalities of individual fencers. Each fencer approached the day differently and were able to ask coaches for assistance and advice while challenging themselves to adapt.
Sabre also had a competition going, and FIE referee Mike Selig worked with the group on what a referee is looking for and how to build a rapport between referee and fencer. Staying with refereeing, Monday also saw #BFLearningWeek draw to a close with Jen Sancroft’s presentation on women in refereeing.
My first ADP Camp went very quickly, and I was impressed at the amount of activities and training that the fencers were able to experience every day, which each day being very different from the last. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who left Nottingham on Monday afternoon feeling a little tired, but immensely inspired, and looking forward to the next camp.
The next ADP Camp takes place on 22nd and 23rd October.
Don’t miss the latest news. Subscribe to our weekly summary email, The Fencing Digest, featuring the previous week’s latest news and announcements. Sign up here.
Sign up to receive regular highlights from the exciting world of fencing - celebrating the best of our unique and inspiring community