Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day 8

Hola from the Dominican Republic

Madalyn (middle, blue shirt) running ladder drills 
This morning pretty much started off like most mornings, waking up and trying to scramble up something to eat for breakfast and then going out to set up camp. The only real difference about today was that Madalyn, Derrick, and I were in charge of running camps. We all excitedly accepted the challenge and as stated earlier in the week, we would be teaching the kids a little something about football (or as they call it, Futbol Americano)At first the task sounded really easy, but then we realized that the kids here have no earthly idea how football works. Then we got hit with a little bit of an obstacle when we realized that we only had two footballs.
Even though we got thrown a couple of curve balls we still took on the challenge. We started off by getting Carol Kahoun (A.K.A. Swiss Miss) and the DPV guys to get the kids warmed up and fired up. Then Derrick, Madalyn, and I asked the kids what they thought when we said the word football. Most of the responses we got were pretty comical to say the least. We got everything from,Its where you go out and hurt somebody” to “Its where the big mean guys go to hit each other”. After briefly laughing and talking to the kids we split them into three groups and put them through a couple of simple football drills. Madalyn was in charge of the ladder drills, Derrick took up the wave drill and get up and run station, while I choose to pick up the pass and catch drill. With the help of all the other athletes and staff the kids seemed to have a really good time. I think the best part of the day was realizing that everything wasn’t going exactly the way we planned, but that wasn’t what it was all about. As long as the kids had a smile on their faces and were laughing and getting involved we knew we were doing our jobs.

Derrick, JP (translator), Madalyn &
Zack teaching a leadership lesson
After all the Kids had rotated through all of the drills we sat them down and taught them about the importance of setting goals. We told them that for every outcome goal (long term goal) there were a number of process goals (short term goals) that they had to complete to help them reach there desired goal. We gave them a few examples about how school was important and what they need to do to get to their goal of graduating and furthering their education. Then we asked about their dreams and what they could do to accomplish and reach those goals. It was inspiring to hear what some of the kids had to say, because even though some of the kids had come from a pretty bad background and the odds were against them.  They still had dreams of being engineers and doctors and professional athletes.

Next, the kids were called up one by one to receive a certificate and some VT gear. They were really excited about that part of the day. Words can’t describe how much that meant to these kids. They had the biggest smiles on their faces and all they wanted to do is talk and compare their new stuff to their friends. We even tried to get a little football game organized, but we decided against it because the kids were so wrapped up in their new stuff that they were having a ton of fun just sitting there and trying their clothes on. This put a smile on all of our faces because it showed that we could truly make a difference in these kids’ lives. Then the harsh reality began to set in that the camp was coming to an end and that is was very likely that we would never see these kids again. To a certain extent we all got a bit emotional. We all were trying to get as many pictures as we could so we could cherish the moments that we spent with these kids. I think I can speak for everyone who came on the trip when I say that I truthfully think we left a positive impression on all of the kids, but I know they left a lasting impression on each and every one of us that we will cherish forever.

After the camp was over we had some downtime until about 4:30P.M. I believe most of us went down to the beach and just enjoyed the weather until it was time to go to class. In class we went back and reviewed the 20 leadership principles in the back of our text books and related them to the trip. It was a very unique topic because the 20 principles we all read and knew, but they all meant something different to us and applied to something different that had happened during our experience down here in Punta Cana.

Campers with diplomas and VT gear
Well, it’s hard to believe that tomorrow is our last full day here. This trip has seriously flown by. I feel like I’ve learned more on this trip than I’ve learned in most of my life. I think that everyone needs to see what this place is really like. Behind all the glamor and beauty of the resorts out here lies one of the most disaster and poverty stricken countries in the world and we had the opportunity to leave a positive impact on the youth here.  I truly hope that we have the opportunity to share our stories with our university and even the world because I believe that we could have a major impact and influence the way that people care about each other and treat each other.

Buenos noches,

Zack McCray

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