Matt and I often joke that the only reason we ended up as Youth Development volunteers is because we have such different talents and strengths that YD is the only thing we’re jointly qualified for. Which is especially funny to me because for the most part, I don’t feel qualified to do the work that we’ve done so far with youth at all (luckily, the YD umbrella is huge and there are plenty of projects I’m looking forward to working on in the fall when schools start again and camp season is over). Take last week as an example – it was Azilal’s first summer camp of the season. 40 kids ranging in age from 12 – 21 showed up at the youth center for an English camp put on by the director, and it was my job (along with Matt’s, once he got back from his climb) to entertain them for a week. As an introvert who never really went to summer camp, I felt waaaaay out of my league on this one. Thankfully some other PCVs who live in the area came up to help out – I don’t know what I would have done without them!
The first day of camp literally included my nightmare scenario – all the kids were seated in a circle around us, and the director asked us to individually stand up and sing a song or improvise a story. Never mind the fact that we were speaking in English and maybe 2 kids in the whole room understood… I was still horrified (my family will appreciate the fact that this brought me flashbacks to that birthday dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack). But we improvised by doing some spoken word renditions of Backstreet Boys songs, which was immensely entertaining to us (although the kids had no idea why we were laughing), and we managed to get through it.
The rest of the camp remained a struggle – the kids often didn’t want to do activities, they just wanted to hang out with their friends, so keeping to our schedule was difficult at best. But eventually the week ended, and the camp culminated in a talent show followed by a dance party that all the kids seemed to enjoy. As for me, I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed the actual camp, but I did enjoy getting to hang out and cook delicious meals with the other PCVs that came to help – we did a fantastic job distracting ourselves from camp during the evenings when we weren’t working! And I got a chance to meet a lot of kids who I’m sure will be great kids to have in our future activities (as long as they’re not surrounded by 40 other excited teenagers).
And I guess that now that I’ve helped run a camp (instead of just teach at one like we did in the spring), that makes me qualified to do it again. I certainly don’t feel like it, but I do have some ideas for how to make it better next time (although I’m hoping there won’t be too many next times…). This experience is also a good lesson for the next time I get thrown into a scenario I feel completely unqualified to deal with (which will undoubtedly happen, since this is the Peace Corps after all) – you do something, it might work or it might not, you will get embarrassed along the way, but you get through it anyway, and maybe you learn a little bit in the process. For now, though, I’ve been welcoming Ramadan and the slower schedule it has brought with open arms :). We’re almost into our second week of fasting now, and we’ll be sure to tell you all about it next week!