First Day of Summer Camp: Noisy, lively, opening with songs, dancing, musical instruments, prayer with several hundred kids, local teachers, international volunteers, youth leaders.  Endless enthusiasm.

The kids are very well-behaved.

The camp is well-organized but plans are, of necessity, flexible.  Volunteers come and go, some staying for a week, some for two or more.

What’s the best way to start the day with several hundred kids with high expectation under one tin roof?  How about a prayer, a hymn and the Haitian national anthem followed by an hour of lively, call-and-response song and dance accompanied by drums and keyboard.

That’s how the day starts at HavServe summer camp, thanks to a troop of energetic teachers and volunteers.  If you come to camp tired or out of sorts it would be almost impossible to maintain that disposition, no matter your age.

But if that sounds kind of chaotic, HavServe summer camp is anything but disorderly.  The kids are grouped by grade level and rotate between five learning stations for two, one and a half hour, sessions each day.  The goal is to keep the kids interested and entertained by making the learning stations (art, technology, numeracy, literacy and gardening) both fun and educational. Does it work?  You bet it does, because these are the most well-behaved kids I’ve ever met.

I worked (if you can call it work) with three local teachers and another international volunteer, Gregg Sanders, in the gardening station.  I’m a gardener from Pennsylvania and Gregg’s a landscaper from Texas.  Neither one of us had been in the position of teaching young children, so we were both a little apprehensive.  But we needn’t have been, because the local Haitian teachers had the situation well under control when we arrived one week into summer camp.  These three young teachers, Audancy, Yvemann and Rejouis were, for me, were among the most impressive individuals at the summer camp.  They certainly knew about gardening, and their ability to make the subject interesting and exciting for the children was equally impressive.

On my and Gregg’s first day on the gardening team, the children learned about establishing seeds and composting.  They didn’t just sit in a classroom.  We all marched to Audancy’s garden where he demonstrated how to plant seeds and how to make compost.  He is an outstanding teacher.  Gregg and I were able to enjoy his lecture thanks to the translating skills of our team.

If I was designing a program of aide to an impoverished community I don’t think a summer camp for kids would be the first thing that would come to mind, but HavServe’s Haiti Summer Camp and Educational Enrichment Program has proven to be an effective fulcrum around which support for Lebrun revolves around.

 

Rose Ann Lord