The two women were worried. Their sons were just children, really, not yet 8 years old. They were being left in the heat of the summer's day on a shadeless, sun-drenched field to play soccer for three hours with about 50 other kids and a half dozen adults.
It was the first day of Camp Gityurkiks, a three-hour, three-day soccer camp run by the Washington Diplomats soccer team whose members serve as camp instructors. But the women just didn't like the looks of things.
"I thought you were going to show some movies," one said to Georges Edeline, whose job for the Dips is to organize the camps and through them promote goodwill and teach soccer to interested kids. "Where would you show them out here?"
"Look at the sky," said the unflappable Edeline, noting the cloudless day. "Now, you wouldn't want the lads all cooped up on a beautiful day like this, would you?"
"It's goung to get awfully hot," the other woman fretted. "Suppose they need a drink?"
Edeline assured them that Gatorade would be served and everyone would have a good time. And everyone, including the pros and the kids with the worried moms, seemed to do just that.
Gityurkiks, which is held in assorted area locations, is first and foremost a camp where kids between ages 6 and 18 learn the fundamentals of soccer by playing the game. Campers practice dribbling, shooting, passing, heading, trapping and goalkeeping at stations set up on the field. Each station is manned by a professional player who instructs the kids in small groups - and the Dips actually instruct; they're not here in name only.
After kids spend about half an hour at a station, Edeline blows his whistle and campers rotate to the next station.
Joking with campers and showing them as much individual attention as is possible on a 10 kids to one player ratio, the Dips are a personable bunch. The pros came to the Fairfax camp following three hours of their own practice and they still summoned up energy to impress and entertain the kids.
In a full-field scrimmage on the final day of camp, Tommy O'Hara of the Dips played with one kids' team and Edeline, who also coaches at George Washington University, played on another. The two men were soon caught up in the competition. O'Hara away downfield with a burst of speed and boomed in a goal which a gawking 9-year-old goalkeeper applauded instead of trying to stop. The other campers loved it too, and they picked up the spirit and tempo of the game.
The pros know that a little psychology goes a long way. Paul Cannell, the Dips colorful striker, had the ball "stolen" from him in a one-on-one drill with a 7-year-old.
"I stole the ball from Paul Cannell, the boy told his father after the workout. "He got it from me the other times, but I took it from him once." The boy paused and frowned. "But I forgot to get his autograph."
The Dips don't hide their enthusiasm for the game. "I get a good reaction from a majority of the players when I asked them to help out with the camps," Edeline says. "Some act like they hate to go, but once they get there, they're happy they did it. They see how the kids enjoy it."
The three-day camp in Fairfax cost $35 and participants received a soccer ball (which they brought with them every day so every camper always had a ball), a T-shirt, a free ticket to a Dips game, bumper stickers and assorted other giveaways. Campers were tired and sweaty by day's end, but some, at least, couldn't wait to get home and practiced all afternoon.
The worried moms? By the end of the camp, one was helping Edeline pour drinks and the other was marvelling at what her son had learned at camp.
For the Dips, Gityurkiks had again reached its goals.