We have all been anxiously waiting for this day to come. Monday is finally here! This morning’s routine was just about the same as any other. Quick bite to eat, off to workout, back to the foundation to shower, and then a bigger breakfast; however, today is special because it is the first day of camp! Not only will we be meeting the group of kids we will be working with for the rest of the week, but also we finally have the opportunity to take a leadership role and apply the new principle’s we have been learning. The bus pulled up, and we instantly picked up a soccer ball and started playing around with some of the children that had just arrived.
Today was run by the DPV members. I was completely amazed at how every activity kept the kids’ attention, provided important educational lessons, and included a fun interactive game that reviewed the previous lesson learned. The camp consisted of 64 children that included a variety of ages ranging between 5 years old to around 14 years old. Not only did they vary in age, but also their socio-economic differences and upbringing brought about numerous challenges to overcome.
The day started off with a pre-test for the kids aimed at gauging their current knowledge and understanding of how HIV, AIDS, and STDs are contracted and affect the human body. Following the test, Carlito, a DPV trainer, gave the campers a short presentation including the basic information about HIV, AIDS, and STDS. His presentation provided the proper definitions of each of the acronyms, as well as ways a person can contract each of them, and ways to treat each of them. They rest of the day was built around that beginning session.
We split the camp into two separate groups (32 campers in each group) and proceeded to play a variety of games. The first game was “pasa la palota” translating to “pass the ball.” In this game we split into two separate teams, stood in a straight line, and passed a tennis ball behind our backs making sure the other team couldn’t see who was holding the ball when we were instructed to stop. Each team would try to guess which player was holding the tennis ball. You could not tell who was holding the ball just by looking at the other team, demonstrating that you cannot tell if a person has HIV or AIDS just by looking at them since there are no physical symptoms of an infected person. Each one of the games that followed related back to a lesson learned at the beginning of the day. Before we knew it, the day was coming to a close. It appeared to us that everything had gone as planned, and flowed decently well for having 64 participants and only expecting maybe 30.
After some much needed down time, we reunited for dinner. We reflected on the first day of camp and realized that it had not gone as well as we thought. The DPV members expressed some concern that there were multiple disruptive kids and that they personally felt disrespected for the majority of the day. Victor, one of the DPV trainers, explained that he had to tell numerous campers to fix their attitudes or they would be asked to remove themselves from the exercise. As we continued to discuss some of the issues for that day we came to a mutual agreement that the language barrier posed problems for both sides. We could not understand what Victor was saying and therefore did not recognize when he was addressing a camper for being interruptive as compared to when he addressed a camper in instruction. We understood that we both needed to work together to keep the campers focused. We pledged to watch for wanderers and pull them back into the group while they were leading an exercise. We also had an understanding that if a camper needed to be removed from an activity for lack of cooperation, that simply by signaling for our attention, we would know to take care of it. We agreed that we want the best for the kids that are focused and paying attention and that we would be right by their side to aid in their success. After all concerns were addressed, dinner came to a close, and we were feeling optimistic about Day 2 of camp on Tuesday. The positive energy was back and we were headed into the day with a new and improved game plan.
We’ll update you shortly and let you know how it all goes!