It's 7:20 a.m. here and the sun has already been up for 2 hours....
Good morning all! Whew! what a crazy filled two weeks! I have been up sipping my coffee while looking at the beautiful Caribbean Sea that I must leave sadly tomorrow evening. The quiet, scenery, and caffeine are just enough to help me pull my thoughts together about all the things I want to share with you about this trip.
I want to start out first with what our service learners had to say upon reflection and then I will follow up with a brief summary of our trip and then what's in store for our very near future! So here goes:
REBECCA: BUCKET FARMING CLASS
"Once these kids trusted us, all they wanted to do was learn. When given the opportunity to learn something, they soaked it up new knowledge like a sponge. Also, the kids, and the community as a whole, were so kind, welcoming, and helpful. It felt like they truly cared about what we were doing at Camp T.O.U.C.A.N. and cared our group as well."
KAYLA: LITERACY LAB
"There were two things that simply amazed me while on this trip: First, that these children absolutely adored having our attention. They would do anything to get it. They were also so amazingly affectionate with us all. Second, how friendly and welcoming the local people were to us. They did not see us as 'tourists' rather they made me feel as if I was already part of their family. Truly an experience I will never forget and look forward to returning soon!"
Jordynn and Briauna: Arts and Crafts with supplies and food and PE
Jordynn: "I had no idea what to expect on this trip. I had never done service learning before. I was nervous that the kids would not respond positively to me, but that nervousness melted away once I started getting hugs regularly. The kids I worked with were so smart, sweet and loving. As for the community we interacted with outside of the camp, it was AMAZING! They were all so helpful and accomodating. They made sure we had everything we needed. I think we all did our best to make the most of our time with the kids because we all grew to really love them. Every minute that passed was time well spent."
Christine: The Baby Whisperer....
"It's funny how you can be a million miles away from home, yet the second you land in Belize, the community gives you warm hugs, and laughs that will last a lifetime. Volunteering with these kids was a blessing I will never take for granted, and I can't wait to go back! This gave me a purpose I didn't know I was looking for. The best part: The kids make you feel like you have known them forever!!"
Our service learners Learned SO much from this trip. But what did our campers learn? Well I believe I will tell that story in pictures below but to sum it up, they learned to grow food in buckets that they could take back into their community and trade among themselves, they learned how to make healthy snacks that tasted good and looked like insects that live in gardens IE: Dirt pudding (chocolate pudding with cookies crumbled up and gummy worms) Caterpillars: Grapes and marshmallows on skewers, snails: celery stick with peanut butter and a half of an apple slice and two chocolate chip eyes, Butterflies: A ziplock snack bag with a colored by them clothespin in the middle and blueberries and raspberries in the snack bag. And finally Spiders: two ritz crackers with peanut butter in the middle pretzel sticks stuck in the peanut butter for legs and marshmallow creme with two chocolate chips on them for the eyes. They also learned how to use spaghetti noodles and gum drops to build buildings... one group made an awesome tent then used the noodles and gum drops to build a fire inside being careful to only use red gum drops to indicate fire. They learned how all of those insects tie into the gardening that they learned about. They were able to utilize the literacy lab and continue progressing on their reading comprehension while at camp and they will be able to continue that when they get back to school. They went to P.E. and played red light green light and rover come over and learned how to work as a team. They ate lunch together with lunches catered by the local community. They got healthy snacks when they made the craft snacks and they were happy and engaged from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. when they didn't want to leave!! Our campers LOVED Camp T.O.U.C.A.N.!! Especially the last day when we had the water fight!!
Our Service Learners Hit the Road too and Learned a great deal about Belize!!
We started our week going sight seeing, then we went to a local park where the community goes to hang out and you can get local food, we then went ziplining and cave tubing in the jungle (WHAT??!! OMG) we toured old Belize and slid down a giant slide into crystal blue water, we visited the hospital and got to hear what problems the community faces and how they are dealing with those issues. So many things packed into 7 days!!
Know what the best part is??
The community and kids loved it so much they asked us to lengthen the time of the camp next year to two weeks and to also see if we can work in financial literacy into the curriculum. I've already got ideas brewing for that now!! They can't wait to see us in November where we will participate for 12 days doing and after school program, working in the literacy center and also working at the gateway center with 13-19 year olds who have dropped out of school but are creating a pathway to getting back into school or going to trade school. Both the ministry of education and our organization are super excited for the amazing possibilities for further fair trade learning for many years to come.
It was an amazing awesome great fantastic excellent adventure. One that allowed us all to grow and learn and love. Passionately.
Pictured above: Our service learners Rebecca, Kayla, Christine, Jordynn, and Briauna getting ready for their first day of camp and below with our house host Julia (who by the way is AMAZING alongside her husband Lewis in keeping our group fed and happy!)
To learn more about our upcoming trips in the fall please visit our website and click on "Register for upcoming trips" to read a description of what we will be doing this fall!
Until next time everyone,
it was great chatting with you!
P.S. All of our service learners receive surprises upon their arrival. This group received a journal, a gym bag, a water bottle, two t-shirts, a hat, a towel, a phone case, a small notebook to carry with them so they could jot down ideas, some pens and a History of Belize book so they could read about the place they were staying and know about it's history.