Thursday, August 19, 2010

Campers, Campers...UNITE!

Part of my job as a youth development volunteers is to work at least one session at a Moroccan summer camp. Peace Corps has had a partnership for years with the Moroccan ministry of youth and sports, and a summer camp is part of that partnership.

All summer long YD volunteers and Moroccan youth aged 13-16 go to English immersion camp in the beach town of El Jadida. Each volunteer is required to work a session of nine days.

Summer camp is much like my spring camp experience back in late March this year. But this time instead of nine volunteers sharing the work load it was 17 which created a more relaxed experience for everyone. We often rotated responsibilities so we had lots of time to rest or enjoy ourselves on the beach.

Another difference between spring and summer camp is that at summer camp each volunteer is able to bring 4 of their best English students from their town to camp on scholarship. For me I had a hard time finding students who met the requirements. In the end I brought my Moroccan sister Rababe, her best friend Sara, and Nassima, a girl my sister found who wanted to go to camp.

My main job was to teach the intermediate low English class for one and a half hours every morning. I really enjoyed my students because I typically like create an atmosphere of fun and lightheartedness in my classes. With teenagers this is easier to do. When I teach kids aged 8-12 I have to be more strict or else they will be yelling and screaming before I know it. But I really enjoyed my time with Hamuda, Amine, Soufiene, Sofia, Wiam, Marwa, Sami, Hafsa, Bashir, Hassan, and Zoukina.

In the afternoons the kids would have time to go into the camp library to earn points by reading books in English and answering trivia questions. Afterward everyone got to go to the beach. Later in the evenings we had night activities like game night, fashion show, Halloween party, dance party, and the final show and awards ceremony.

Another part of each day was club time. All the campers were put into groups of roughly 12 and were given a country to learn about. PCVs led the club activities. The clubs were Jamaica, United Arab Emirates, U.S.A, Tanzania, Kenya, and Australia. I love the fact that the campers got the chance to learn about another country and culture outside their own. In each club they learned about music, art, dance, and other things about that country.

In the country clubs the campers competed in competitions together to earn points toward the over camp cup. This years victors were team Jamaica.

A typical day at camp looked like this:

8:00-Wake up
9:30-Morning announcements
9:45-English class
4:00-Country club time
6:00-Moroccan activities
9:30-Nighttime activity
11:30-Get ready for bed
12:00-Lights out

Moments I had at camp are ones I know I will remember far into my future. And these are the times when I really sit and picture myself where I am. A little tiny speck in a coastal town in Morocco, North Africa. To this day it’s hard to believe that I am really here. I am so lucky to be a part of these kids’ lives. I get to see how they like to express themselves, what makes them happy or sad, what makes them vulnerable, and what makes them succeed.