Saturday, August 2, 2014

Preparing for the Campers

Once the Training of Teachers (ToT) concluded, we had just Friday evening and Saturday morning to prepare for the 60 campers’ arrival.  This involved decorating the camp a little bit more than we did for the ToT.  Inspiring posters were created and hung, ribbons were tied or draped in classrooms, the refectory and the Salle (auditorium).  Some of the more artistic teachers used colored chalk to draw welcoming signs in classrooms and outside the Salle.
Ribbons adorning the refectory

The Salle with artwork to welcome campers

It also involved creating “Affirmation Bags.”  Students were encouraged to write words of praise for their fellow campers and drop them in the campers' affirmation bag throughout the week.  At the end of the week, campers were surprised to read so many little expressions of praise.

Teachers decorate "Affirmation Bags"

Affirmation bags lined the classroom window ledges
Affirmation bags in their festive splendor
Tote bags also had to be prepped. IBM donated tote bags, notebooks, pens and pencils for campers.  Each bag was stuffed with these school supplies plus a roll of toilet paper and a bar of soap to last the week.  They also had a colorful strip of cloth called "ibitenge" attached to them.  Campers were grouped into "families" of 6 campers.  Each family had their own pattern of ibitenge cloth which they could wear any way they wanted.  The colorful cloth made it very easy to determine if campers were in the right place.

Lauren negotiates ibitenge prices at the market in Kigali

The line-up of bags for campers with their varied ibitenge cloth

A close-up of a single bag shows the masking tape used to label bags with campers' names
The staff of GS Janja St. Jerome where the camp was held were also busy preparing.  For one thing, mosquito nets needed to be washed and dried. A single mosquito net covers a bunk-bed, so it's pretty big.  Netting is needed due to the presence of malaria in Rwanda.

dozens of mosquito nets drying in the courtyard
While most teachers and staff decorated camp, we dispatched some of the teachers (Hannah and Simon) to Kigali to gather additional supplies and to help students transfer onto the bus for Musanze.  Meanwhile, Major and James went to Musanze to transfer students from the public bus to the bus that would come to the camp in Janja.  This involved standing at the bus stop in Musanze all day, gathering girls and keeping them entertained until the bus went to Janja...which only happened twice.  Thus, girls did a lot of waiting at the bus stop.

The bus after unloading the first group of 30 girls
First group of girls checking into camp and preparing to take the camp pre-test
Elisabeth and Liz checking girls into camp

The second group of 30 girls arrived after dark

 While waiting for campers to arrive, many teachers began a spontaneous dance party in the Salle. 

Teachers dancing in the Salle while waiting for campers to arrive

Whether waiting at the bus stop all day, or decorating camp it was a tiring day.  Yet, people's spirits were high heading into dinner the first night of camp.

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