We Hosted a Camp

Camp
July 11, 2023

Truth be told, the idea of a camp at my site started because my first VRG deadline was approaching and I had to make up a planned activity.

Truth be told, the idea of a camp at my site started because my first VRG deadline was approaching and I had to make up a planned activity.

I would meet ntate Steve at his tiny private school after that, and after a short discussion with him and his students which included promises I had no idea how I would keep, like American food and American sports, a three-day camp to cover health, life skills, and financial skills was scheduled for the middle of June. I later met ausi Julia, a Youth Mentor for Karabo ea Bophelo, entirely by coincidence while I was looking for ntate Steve at the schoolgrounds. It was her idea to advertise the camp in other villages up the road. We went to a much larger school up the road to ask if there was interest, where I met mme Mahlape, a teacher who would help coordinate all of the kids on her side of the road.

Transportation came through in the form of a box truck that its owner frequently uses to transport the local soccer teams. Returning from a Peace Corps workshop with one of my collaborating volunteers and more on their way, we made our last-minute preparations in the nearby camptown and later at site. There were already things to deal with and I was bombarded with messages filled with problems from about 7:00pm to 9:00 pm that night. A couple of people won’t make it, a couple collaborating volunteers still don’t know how they’ll get to the camp, the KB lay counselor can only come tomorrow so we need to do our HIV lessons tomorrow instead of Wedneday, so on. But nothing came that meant the camp needed to be called off.

Only the students from the bigger school up the road had been comfortable with the idea of putting their names in a register for the camp. It seemed too big a commitment for everyone else. I had expected maybe 40 participants. I thought at the most, we might have 60, but mostly I was bracing myself to only find a handful. When we arrived, late, on our first day of the camp, we saw maybe 15-20 kids idling around. We started to get some names down, and then came the box truck with at least 50 kids. It was only 11:00, and more came. By the end of day 3, we had just over 100 kids in attendance.

All told, the camp was not an unmitigated disaster, and therefore I consider it an unprecedented success. The KB volunteers mobilized thr girls for their safe spaces and the lay counselor tested som girls for HIV. Ntate Steve and some of the sportier kids were excited about learning the rules to kickball and other sports, and some of the kids actually paid attention in our sessions!