Friday, February 10, 2012

Camp ALMA Verde

Since my return from my New Years trip to the beach, I have been absolutely swamped. I started my summer classes, and have had some type activity almost every weekend. Without any help on the summer school classes, and having to prep for classes everyday (in a second language mind you), my time and any use of the internet has been completely consumed. However, I'm finally now at the capital, for our monthly reunion, have some spare time, and more importantly a relatively solid internet connection.  So As I write this, the date is the 10th of February, the camp that took place the last weekend of January seems like old news, but it was a great event and has to be shared.

ALMA Verde, is a annual camp that the volunteers put on to promote leadership in young females. We address gender roles, have career panels, share team building activities, and promote self-esteem in the young women. ALMA Verde stands for Actividades de Liderazgo para Mujeres Adolescentes (Leadership Activities for Adolescent Women), the Verde (green) part has to do with our focus on environmental current issues.

I'll have to admit I wasn't too excited about the camp. I knew summer school was going to be stressful and time consuming, and I wasn't sure who to invite to the camp (I could only bring one or two girls), so I thought about skipping it; however, after it was all said and done, I was glad I did it. It reminded me a lot of volunteering for other weekend events (Special Olympics State Games or the Forget-Me-Not Grief Camp). The whole week leading up to it you start to get cold feet, thinking about how much you love your weekends, how you should spend that time planning for the next week, basically you just want to be selfish, relax, and not exert yourself too much. But then when Sunday roles around, you have seen the kids have so much fun, and their excitement and enthusiasm is contagious. You find yourself with a little after glow, complete with a grin that doesn't go away until for a least a couple of days. Totally worth it.

The girls I brought were Alicia (age 17) and Celina (age 15). They are sisters, and in my mind, they were best kids at the camp. They were involved,kind, respectful, and energetic. I had no doubts about Alicia, she's the president of my youth heath promoters and can always be counted on to an active leader. Celina, on the other hand, I wasn't so sure of. She's always so shy, and it's hard to have her come out of her shell, but I really wanted to invite her for the following reasons: 1) It's just her, Alicia, and their father living at their home, so I didn't want her to feel too left out; 2), I wanted her to she other examples of outgoing girls (other than her big sister);3) She is probably my best bet for a young leader after Alicia graduates this year, so I wanted her to get some exposure. And like I said, I was very happy with my choices. They were standouts. Alicia got awarded a camp award for her participation, and Celina really opened up and made a lot of friends.

The title events of the camp were:
A career panel of about 10 women in careers ranging from police woman, to nutritionist, to archaeologist.
A fashion show with the kids making things out of recyclable material.
Tree plantings.
Team building games.
Sexual health charla, presented by the Peace Corps Doctor (Dr. Suni bused up here... 8hrs for the day)

In addition to these and other fun events, I think the real highlight for the girls was that sleep away camp feel that most Peruvians never experience. The girls were in bunk houses with about 6 girls to every one female volunteer. I was in the "boys" cabin (for the male volunteers), but as the other volunteers shared, that the girls really enjoyed laughing and giggling with their fellow cabin-mates for 3 days two nights, which was probably a real high point.

I don't have many blog worthy pictures of this event, as I gave my camera to Alicia so she could record her own memories (Leaving me with an embarrassing ALMA Verde file on my computer full of 'model shots' she and her sister took in their cabin)... whatever.

Celina model shot on the patio

Alicia on the patio

Patrick presenting a charla on tree planting

Alicia chatting it up with Sara Jane at lunch

A few bunk mates.

Celina (L) and Alicia (R) with their ALMA Verde certificates.