Guyanese schools go on summer vacation from the beginning of July to the beginning of September. During this time kids are left with a lot of free time so Peace Corps encourages us to run summer camps! During the month of July I participated in two incredible summer camps and want to share a bit of that magic with you!
Manawarin Camp GLOW
The first camp was organized by another volunteer living in Manawarin—a remote area of Region 1 (see map). It’s an isolated Amerindian village is located along the Manawarin River and you get there by taking a two hour speedboat ride up the Atlantic Coast and into the river. There’s no electricity or running water and very limited cell phone reception where we were working, which pushed us to be more creative with how we planned our lessons. I visited Manawarin last October and was so happy to have the opportunity to go back (here’s the link to my last post about Manawarin)! The volunteer organized a Camp GLOW, which is a Peace Corps initiative standing for Girls Leading Our World. These types of camps happen all over the world and I’m so glad I got to participate in one! About 30 secondary school girls traveled to the village’s school each day for a week to learn, play games, do art, and have fun!
Throughout camp, the girls learned about career options and how to plan for their future, nutrition, mental health, reproductive health, body image, relationships, communication, and leadership! My favorite day focused on careers, and the girls had the opportunity to talk to a panel of working Manawarin women about how they worked to achieve their position. After hearing from the panel, the girls were able to think about what career they might want and plan for how to achieve that goal! Between these sessions they had time to color, play teambuilding games, hang out with their friends, and eat yummy snacks. At the end of each day girls could choose if they wanted to go outside and play sports (cricket, volleyball, or football aka soccer) or stay inside and do a craft (e.g. friendship bracelets, fortune tellers, collages, decorating mirrors). Each day was a great mix of learning, games, art, and social time!
The volunteer in Manawarin has a passion for camps and she did an amazing job organizing everything and making sure the girls were able to come and enjoy themselves! She invited five other volunteers to come and help run sessions, lead a team of girls, and make camp special. We all fell in love with the girls and were captivated by the beauty of savanna backed by jungle. Unfortunately, most of us got sick by the end of the week-long trip, but that actually highlighted how wonderful it is to work with other volunteers. When one person wasn’t feeling well, everyone else picked up a little extra work to make sure everything got done and did what they could to make sure the sick person was doing alright. I really enjoyed working with the other volunteers and sharing this special week with them! Overall the camp was a huge success and a week that stands out in my service here!
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, Healthy Soul Summer Camp
The second summer camp I did focused on students moving from primary to secondary school. All of our campers were 11 or 12 years old, and we focused on this group of students because the transition from primary to secondary school is big here and they’re also starting to go through so many other physical and emotional changes. Children usually go to the primary school in their village (or nearby) with all the other kids from their village. Oftentimes it’s the same school that their parents or grandparents attended as well! During grade six, all students take a national exam and how well they score determines which secondary school they’ll attend for grades seven through eleven. This means that the secondary school they attend is often outside of their village and the students going to school with them may come from all over the region. I worked with the two other volunteers in my region and four incredible local women to organize the six-day camp in a central location so 30 students from four different primary schools could come together and learn skills to help them transition from primary to secondary school and deal with all the other changes that come with puberty.
Each day of camp focused on a different theme including self-esteem, relationships, puberty/reproductive health, body image, anger management, and emotional health. Each session got the kids moving and related the topic to what’s happening in their daily lives. After the session, students participated in games and art which helped them meet new friends and practice the themes we were teaching. We threw water balloons, crafted ‘comfort boxes’, ran three-legged races, drew silly pictures, played musical chairs, made stress balls, platted friendship bracelets, and more! The camp was high energy and a lot of fun! Fingers crossed we can do another camp this December…
I have to give a very special thanks to Friends and Relatives of Guyana (FROG) who generously sponsored our camp and are so supportive of volunteers here. Without them camp wouldn’t have been possible and their website is here! Also thanks to Bacchus Library who allowed us to use their space and is always supportive of volunteer projects!