Archive | January, 2013

Summer of Camps

29 Jan

I’m finally in the last few weeks of what I have taken to calling “The summer of camps.” It started in December, when school let out, with 2 week-long Animal Camps (one at the local Cultural Center and one at the local soup kitchen). I developed and planned these camps to focus around animal adaptations. Through crafts, activities and games the kids learned about the 5 classes of vertebrates and some of their most useful and interesting adaptations.

campers with frog puppets

Campers at the Cultural Center on amphibian day

The camp was super fun for the kids and for me. The participants did lots of fun projects like…

drawing of a fish with sequin scales

Fish scale drawings…

girl holding fingerprint fish drawing

Fingerprint fish schools…

frog puppet

Frog life cycle puppets

kids using origami jumping frogs

Origami jumping frogs…

Chameleon art

Camouflaged chameleons…

Victoria with paper plate turtle

Paper plate turtles…

kids in bird masks

Bird masks…

toliet paper tube owl

Toilet paper tube owls…

girl with flying bat puppet

Flying bat puppets…

kid with dolphin and whale origami

and whale and dolphin origami.

One of the groups even got to go out birdwatching with me.

Kids birdwatching

Kids birdwatching

After wrapping up Animal Camp I dived right into a Personal Development Camp that I helped my youth group plan and execute.

personal development camp campers and organizers

My youth group and the kids that attended their Personal Development Camp.

This 3-day camp focused on self-esteem, communication and working in groups. It featured a ton of icebreakers and other high energy activities, including a scavenger hunt.

making team flags

My youth group members work with the kids on their team flag

Luz helps Meliza with a self-esteem activity

Luz helps Meliza with a self-esteem activity

group doing the chicken dance

Me teaching kids the Chicken Dance

Kids in human knot

Un-tying a human knot

balance the ball on the spoon

Silly scavenger hunt games

human pyramid

Human pyramid

Kids dancing in the plaza

The kids dancing in the plaza

The kids attending had a blast. I was so proud of my youth group for putting the event on.

My youth group! Luz, Pablo, Alba, Lucas and Sofia. These teens are amazing.

It went so well, they partnered with another youth group (1 ½ hours away in Carmen del Parana) to modify some of the activities to create a 3 hour activity day for kids there. Again, I was just bursting with pride. Between the two events they worked with around 70 kids!

large group of kids and youth

The kids and youth group members at the joint event in Carmen del Parana

In January I brought 3 youth from my community to my sector’s national leadership camp Youth for Paraguay. At this 4-day event, the youth participated in a variety of activities where they learned skills to bring back to their communities.

Alba, Lucas, Luz and me at the camp

Alba, Lucas, Luz and me at the camp

I helped lead a “How to use Google Mapmaker to map your city” activity during the camp. I also did a presentation for all of the kids, with my friend Julie, on using marketing to help promote their youth groups. Just before the camp, my friend Molly (who organized all of the fabulous programming for the camp) asked me to help design a mural for some of the attendees to paint during the event. We did some sort of weird mind meld and came up with a great design. It was awesome to see the finished product at the end of the camp.

The finished mural and the team who helped to make it happen: Molly and Amy on idea and design, and Anna and Jess on painting.

Our Country Director liked my design so much she asked if we could paint the same mural in the office. We’ll see if that pans out. Overall, the camp was great and my youth group members came back even more motivated to do great things in our community.

Immediately after the leadership camp I was overwhelmed by last minute preparations for our new national art camp, Imaginarte. A team of wonderful ladies from my training group (Joanna, Vicky, Molly, Shavon & Ginsey) and I created this camp from scratch this year. Molly and I were in charge of programming for the 3-day event. The idea of the camp was to foster creativity, teach kids about opportunities to incorporate art in their daily lives, and introduce them to real artists. It exceeded my expectations in every possible way.

We had wonderful speakers come in, including 2 professional photographers, an actor from the most famous movie in Paraguay, and a well-known graffiti artist. Additionally the kids got to explore the artsy town of Aregua, where we hosted the camp, on a photo safari and a gallery walk. We did a ton of activities involving creativity, art and writing throughout the event and we finished each night with a big 3-hour open studio. During that time the kids basically had a craft store worth of supplies and free reign to create whatever it is they wanted. It was amazing to see some of their creations.

The youth and volunteer participants at Imaginarte

Typically when you do a camp in Paraguay, you print up a fancy t-shirt and give it to the participants as their souvenir from camp. I thought that wasn’t very creative so I had the idea to have the kids paint their own Alpargatos (a type of shoes that look like Tom’s) and take those home instead. We painted the shoes the first night and then the second night we filmed a Footloose-inspired video of them dancing in their shoes. It was a huge hit.

One super special thing we did during the camp was paint a mural with the help of Oz Montania, a well-known graffiti artist. It turned out wonderfully.

The completed mural!

I left that camp sort of amazed at how well it went…only to realize I had no time to relax as I started a History Camp in my site the next day. In this camp I decided to use a book series called “You wouldn’t want to be a….” for inspiration. We own 5 of these books in our library, so I used them to choose the time periods for my camp: Ancient Greece, the Middle Ages, the Age of the Aztecs, the Age of Exploration (Columbus, Magellan, etc) and the Age of Pirates!

Kids with crowns and family crest shield on Middle Ages day

Kids with crowns and family crest shields on Middle Ages day

Each day we learned a bit about the culture or time period we were discussing and put them on the timeline and map. Then we made a costume and other crafts, as well as played games related to the day’s theme.

On Ancient Greece day we had a mini-Olympics. This is the straw/paper javelin throw.

girl dressed as pirate

The cutest pirate ever?

I did the camp for one week at the Cultural Center and am in the middle of doing it a second time at the soup kitchen this week.

Pirate costumes

Pirates say “Is camp ARRRRRRRRRRRlready over?”

After I wrap up week 2 of History Camp, I’m off to our Apprentice Challenge National Business Camp in Asunción. I worked as the communications chair on this event, so it should be fun to attend and help out. My youth, Carmen, who won the National Business Plan Competition in August is going to come the last day to talk about her business and experience participating in the program. Check out a video of her below.

After the business camp, I’m back in site for a week-long Science Camp which I’m putting on, and a simultaneous Leadership Camp that my youth group is doing. When those are over I get to get on a bus headed for the airport in Asuncion where I’ll be flying out for a 2-week trip to Patagonia. After this summer of camps, it will be nice to finally relax and cool off.

When I return I’ll have a little less than 5 months left of Peace Corps service. My focus for the first 2 months of that will be getting the National Library Workshop together. If you haven’t already done so, please consider donating to help make this workshop a reality at . Every dollar counts and we’re well on our way to being able to fund this important event (read more about why I’m planning this workshop in this blog post). I’m hoping that sharing some of my camp experiences at the library workshop will help motivate Paraguayans to offer similar events in their sites.

Check out complete photo galleries from all of my summer camp events: