Rock, Paper, winners raise money for camp

By Jim Vorel

Allison Stein and Taylor Maatman giggled as they threw their hands out a fourth time to another tie game. Their seemingly perfectly matched game of rock, paper, scissors was taking a while. Laughing and barely able to remain in sync, they threw their hands together on three into the space between them, each showing their selection. It was another tie. The women once again burst into hysterical laughter.

It may sound rather like a description of recess on the playground, but Stein and Maatman are no grade-schoolers. Both are freshmen in AHS, and both turned out on Sunday evening to participate in the Illini Summer Opportunity Organization’s first annual Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament.

The tournament was created to raise money for the Champaign-Urbana Youth Scholarship Fund, to be used to send Champaign-Urbana children to summer camp who would otherwise not have the means to go. Scott Wolf, president and one of the founders of the Illini Summer Opportunity Organization said that through the tournament and fundraisers the organization has been running in the last week, it hopes to be able to send every child in Champaign-Urbana to summer camp this year.

“We’re expecting the grand total of this week’s fundraising drive to be somewhere between $20,000 to $27,000,” Wolf said proudly. “And in addition, there is an anonymous donor who is an alumnus of the University who will be matching all donations up to $15,000.”

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    More than 450 participants arrived on a warm Sunday night to try their hand at winning the tournament. The grand prize was an expenses-paid trip to Acapulco and 65 Chipotle burritos. The $10 registration fee for the tournament included one Chipotle burrito, an event T-shirt that reads “I got rocked” and seven raffle tickets. Prizes for the raffle, which organization members have been selling tickets for all week, include another expenses-paid trip to Acapulco and a 32-inch HDTV LCD television.

    Playing for such rich stakes brought a decidedly competitive air to the tournament. Stein and Maatman, aside from being friends, were two roommates paired up to face off against each other in the championship of their preliminary group.

    Maatman said the pair’s friendship would be on temporary hiatus during the match.

    “I want to win that prize so bad, I would do anything to win,” Maatman said. “My strategy is all about eye contact. You’ve got to psych them out.”

    Stein was also quick to point out that whether she won or lost against her friend, she would be happy to support the Illini Summer Opportunity Organization’s cause.

    “I’ve been going to public summer camp since I was young, so this means a lot to me,” Stein said. “I made a lot of good friendships in summer camp, so I think it’s an important experience to have as a child.”

    Maatman won the preliminary championship between the two and thereby advanced to the finals but was eliminated in the first round.

    As the final round advanced, tensions grew. The crowd was loud and rowdy as it cheered on the finalists who battled on stage, getting behind crowd favorites and crying foul on several occasions. Primped, nervous-looking toy dogs belonging to sorority members ran around and did their best to avoid ending up underfoot. In the end, Jack Camper, junior in ACES, became the champion, taking both the trip to Acapulco and the 65 Chipotle burritos. He said that he had faith through the entire tournament that he could win.

    “I was confident in my rock, paper, scissors abilities, but with the chances and odds of the tournament, I wasn’t sure I could do it,” Camper said. “Everybody that I know is getting free burritos tonight, on me.”

    Now that Camper has mastered the University rock, paper, scissors scene, he might want to set his sights a little higher. National rock, paper, scissors championships such as those sponsored by the World Rock Paper Scissors Society can be worth up to $50,000. Last year, the championship was shown on Fox Sports Net.

    As for the Illini Summer Opportunity Organization, they are considering the tournament to be a huge success and hope to achieve its goal of sending all area children to summer camps. Wolf said that the organization will continue to plan similar events in the future, and interested students should look into how they can get involved.