When the Training of Teachers (ToT) concluded, we immediately launched into preparing the camp for the students’ arrival. Classrooms and the dining hall were decorated, camper schedules were written on large flip-chart paper and hung in the dining hall, and many other activities prepared for the students’ arrival. All this needed to occur in the span of a few hours. It helped a lot that Elisabeth held a quick meeting for distribution of duties.
Bags needed to be prepared for each student containing a notebook, pen, pencil, soap and toilet paper. The list of 60 students was divided into 10 “family” groups containing 6 girls with each coming from a different school. Two adult “family leaders” were assigned to each group to act as supervisors and mentors. Each family also was assigned an igitenge with a matching cloth pattern. Cloth strips were cut and attached to every girls’ bag. The girls wear these every day, making it easy to identify if a camper is in the wrong place.
Family leaders also prepared colorful nametags and “affirmation bags.” These bags adorned one wall of the dining hall. Students, teachers and staff were encouraged to write affirming messages and place them in other’s bags throughout the week. At the end of the week, campers took their bags home, filled with many affirming statements about their positive characteristics.
This year Michelle Slattery from Peak Research helped us to measure impact. She needed to organize 6 pre-camp surveys for the girls to take upon arrival. This was a major undertaking but very valuable to understanding what impacts the camp might have upon girls’ interests and abilities.
Students began arriving on Saturday, August 8th around mid-day. Upon arrival, they checked-in, submitted their permission slips and insurance cards and surrendered their cellphones for safe-keeping during the camp.
After check-in and placing their belongings in the dormitory, girls took 6 pre-camp surveys covering topics related to interest in technology, gender perceptions about technology careers and skill-based questions pertaining to each day’s subject material.
Since girls travel on public transportation (unaccompanied) across the country to attend camp, girls arrived in multiple waves throughout the afternoon as buses from various parts of Rwanda arrived in the nearby city of Kibuye. ICT teachers waited at the bus stop in Kibuye to collect girls as they alit from the bus, and then walked the girls the 20 minutes from town to camp. Here are some pictures of Kibuye and the walk between camp and Kibuye. You see many goats along the way.
By dinnertime, all campers except one had arrived and she arrived early on the following day.
During the first night’s dinner, each family group chose a family name and composed a cheer. Cheers were done throughout the camp but especially at mealtime. Even the staff had a team name. Ours was the “Super Geeks,” as indicated on our table name-tent below. Our cheer borrowed from the Rick James hit, “SuperFreak” and was a substantially shortened parody of that song with the refrain being “We are Super Geeks, Super Geeks; We’re Super Geeky.” Maybe we made some new Rick James fans because though the girls were unfamiliar with the original song, they loved our staff cheer. Some girls would even sing it walking around camp.
Other family names included: Google Team, Apple Team, Peace Family, Shining Stars, Whapthrick, Ada Family, Technology Powers Girls, Super Computers, Vision Quest, and Insta-Browser-Gram. Here are some of the families introducing their cheer.
We also introduced the TechKobwa cheer to the camp and the girls quickly performed it with great enthusiasm.
Our ToT days were fun-filled with high energy but that did not compare to the energy level once this group of 60 bright upcoming leaders arrived. We could tell by their family names and cheers that they were a special group of girls.