Que Te Pasa Calabaza
It was my second week as a volunteer in the Community Development Project in el Cocal when we were met with the news that the school we work in was taking part in a nation-wide teacher strike. For the children this would be a cause for celebration – no school! But for us this was also great news – instead of our normal schedule of classes, it meant we could run 3 action-packed and fun-filled days of camp!
Camp lasts for 4 hours each day, with different group of volunteers taking it in turns to lead and plan a day each, with freedom to choose an exciting theme. With no classes in the rest of the school, it meant that we could have the run of the playground and be as loud as we wanted! And that includes the volunteers as well as the children … Our only main requirements were face painting and fun, so with that in mind, we collected gazillions of materials for crafts and games, packed up and headed to el Cocal.
Day One was Superhero day. The kids made their own capes and masks before choosing tasty fruits to give them special superpowers. It’s amazing what something so simple can do when you have imagination, and before long we had enough superheroes and heroines running around conquering the world to rival The Avengers themselves. Then came the obstacle course, consisting of running, jumping, hopscotch, climbing through nets and dribbling a ball before sprinting back to do it all again. Just watching the children tired me out, and some of them managed to do it 5 times over! After a few more games and some dancing, it was time to go home, before the fun all started again the next day.
Day Two was Disney day! We chose this theme as the children regularly sing “Let it Go” to us and so we decided they deserved to be their very own Disney characters for the day. After all, who doesn’t love a little bit (or a lot) of Disney every now and then? Seeing how much the kids loved dressing up, we got stuck right into making our own crowns and wands. Cue much bowing and regal waves. After some tuck we played the very competitive tea towel, balloon and peg games. These games are great as all you need to play them are household objects, but it’s great that everyday things can suddenly become so exciting, especially when you are trying to pop someone else’s balloon or win the race to the tea towel or sneakily peg a volunteer without them realizing.
Day Three was Animal day. By this point the kids were so excited to come to camp they were beating us there and coming almost half an hour early! We spent ages making our very own zoo of egg carton animals, something that everyone loved – despite some healthy discussion as to whether a Tiger should live in the jungle or the savannah! After this, we had a hilarious time making toilet roll human mummies in teams before using the same materials to build a safety box for an egg – which was then thrown up into the air! Thankfully no eggs were harmed in the duration of this activity, as we all proved to be very capable egg-protectors. The children were then fascinated by the egg crush challenge and even I found it hard to believe you can’t crush an egg with just one hand (if you don’t believe me go and try it!).
Our week on camp seemed to pass in a whirlwind of activity. From first feeling daunted at the prospect of solidly entertaining a group of 25 children of different ages for 4 hours straight, we then found ourselves wishing we had more time with them, to laugh play and make new friends. As we normally work in two groups split between the younger and older children, it was great to interact with new kids as well as other volunteers in a very chilled environment. Everyone really threw themselves in and as volunteers we came out as a really strong team having helped each other through some crazy activities and games. The children weren’t the only ones feeling sad that school had to start again!