I have to admit, I was a bundle of nerves heading into this thing. Who in their right mind willingly signs up to coordinate a camp for 100+ kids who speak English (if at all) as a third or fourth language, armed only with 9 other Peace Corps volunteers, a nearly equal number of Moroccan counselors, an industrial sound system and a couple dozen sheets of butcher paper?
Turns out I had less than nothing to worry about. Sure, the mother of all head colds decided to crash the party just as things were getting started. Sure, we averaged about 5 hours of sleep a night. Sure, we welcomed our maximum number of campers and then some (107, to be exact). Sure, printers didn't work and schedules didn't mesh and there was the occasional paint explosion. But if those were the greatest of our worries, all I can say is hamdulilah.
But Camp Taroudant was about as good as it gets, and we didn't even have a beach to use as a bargaining chip. The kids were well-behaved, enthusiastic and actually inquisitive. The staffs got along famously, and we had an angel of a camp director, who worked at least as hard as we did, danced as hard as the kids did, and has a penchant for Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall."
Our success can only be blamed on the nine intrepid Peace Corps volunteers who signed up to work with me. Ali, Ariel, Joy, Laila, Lori, Matt, Michelle, Nicole and Vish didn't just do their time. They worked hard, around the clock. They turned on the charm with the kids. They practiced in their spare time. They propped each other up when propping up was needed. They swapped ideas and strategies and kept each other laughing. They made the whole dang thing fun, not just for a boisterous crowd of Moroccan adolescents, but for a middle-aged Midwesterner who came in more than a little dubious and left with new friends, new music and a new appreciation for the possibilities of engaging youths.
We kept 107 kids pretty well entertained for seven days, and if they came away speaking a little more English via the Banana Song and Chick-A-Boom ad nauseum ... well, who could ask for more?
7:30 a.m.: Wake up, get dressed, make beds
8 a.m.: Morning activities (national anthem, a few wake-up songs, announcements, Stars of the Day
8:15 a.m.: Breakfast
9-11 a.m.: English classes
11:15-12:30 p.m.: Sports/recreation
1 p.m.: Lunch (followed by much-needed naptime)
3:30-5:15 p.m.: Country Clubs (we divided kids into a cross-section of Anglophone countries to practice English while learning history, culture, music, art and more about their assigned nations ~ Canada, Jamaica, India, Kenya and New Zealand
5:30-7 p.m.: Activities with Moroccan counselors ~ or ~ outings in which we inflicted all 130 or so of us upon the unwitting streets of Taroudant
8 p.m.: Dinner
9-10:30 p.m.: Evening activities (these ranged from talent show to crafts, games, movies and of course the SPECTAC!
11 p.m.: Lights out (inch'allah)
Campers' best quotes:
"Becki is a vegetable. Are you a vegetable?" ~ asked of a fellow vegetarian
"WHAT FROM YOU?" ~ urgent query put to Laila during a game where students were trying to guess our national origins
"I want power. All I need is money, guns, and the love of my parents." ~ aspirations of a student in Ariel's intermediate class
300+ more camp photos here, if you have the interest/patience: http://www.flickr.com/photos/71994606@N00/sets/72157623679130607/