Hello lovely people! Wow. Life has been crazy. Yes, it has been some weeks since I updated everyone, so here it goes:
It’s a Saturday and we have only two weeks of camp left in the summer. Time has flown by so quickly! Words cannot even begin to describe how much I will miss everyone here once everything is over. I thought I would take the chance on this calm afternoon to tell you about the wonderful (yet challenging) little people that I have gotten to work with. My internship/camp provides a safe place for kids to come and increase their reading skills during the summer. We also do fun art projects, gym time, and give them meals. The ages have included children from 4 to 12 years old and my goodness, they are a handful. To them, I am Ms. Jo or Ms. Joanna and they will come to me or my team with many of their problems. Every day brings new discoveries, emotions and yes, the occasional temper tantrum. Despite all that, there have been the joys in life too. So, I thought I would give you a glimpse into what I have been doing with them the past few weeks.
Over the summer I have been in charge of doing arts and crafts with the kids each morning before lunch. The kids are divided into groups based upon grades and rotate through all the activities. Sounds simple right? In theory it should be, but it’s not. I have the 3rd and 4th graders in my first rotation (led by Americo) and I have to say they are the most constructive. There hasn’t consistently been a girl in that group for a while now and I think the boys like it that way. They do the craft as they should and go on their way usually without a hitch. I then have a few minutes to collect my brain cells before my life is destroyed by a hurricane with 10 little moving parts: 1st and 2nd grade. Led by their fearless leader Captain Kayley, you usually hear them before you see them. These kids have so much energy and such small attention spans, I usually think I am gonna go insane! Most of the time they mean well, but they just have too much energy to sit down for 30 mins and do art. I usually have to improvise in some way that I know they will enjoy or understand. One of these little munchkins just doesn’t enjoy coloring or art, but he loves to stack the markers and make things out of them. So, I let him be off to the side to make marker towers. After a few minutes I heard his little voice say “Markers! Get your markers here! I have all the colors you need!” When I asked him what he was doing he said “I’m selling markers Ms. Jo! They don’t cost anything AND they’re free!” I laughed inside and imagined what a good little salesman he would be when he got older.
After 1st and 2nd grade have left the room, in come the oldest and “coolest” members of our camp: 5th and 6th grade. Led by my teammate Dylan, they really do think they are the coolest to walk the earth. I have to say it took me a while to reach them, but now they love coming to do art with me. They always volunteer to help me clean up after the little kids, and that really means a lot because it shows me that they will take on responsibility. While they may appear sassy and tough, many of them are helpful and have great hearts. When it comes to doing art with them, I have found that just letting them create is enough. They love doing their own thing, but they always know I am there to help them.
Now camp may sound all fine and dandy, but our team had a wake-up call 2 weeks ago when there was a shooting in the neighborhood. A little 10-year girl was shot and killed. No, it wasn’t one of our camp kids, but many of our kids knew her and it very well could have been one of them. We all had heavy hearts that day as we tried our best to support them and use camp as a distraction if they needed it. Many of us wondered why they were not at home with their families, but as someone said, “we may be the best these kids have right now”. That truly hit home with me and gave me a wakeup call to what we were really dealing with here. That day was probably the hardest, but we also gained progress that day too. One of our older ones was just having a hard time and all she could do was sit and sob. I looked at her and said” you know we are here for you right?” Through her tears, she nodded and after that we had her smiling and laughing with her group. This doesn’t mean the situation is any better, but it has shown me that what I am doing makes a real difference in these kids’ lives.
Peace Smiles and Love,
“We are the world, We are the children, We are the one who make a brighter day so let’s start giving” …
From the song: USA for Africa- We are the world
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