Camp des Leaders de l’Avenir

Le Camp des Leaders de l’Avenir has officially begun! And considering none of us has ever run a camp like this before, it’s been (so far) a success! We’ve got 28 kids here from seven different villages, and they’re the top of their class. Each village selected (where each of us PCVs lives and works) sent two boys and two girls from CM2, or the equivalent of their sixth grade. And by “sent” I mean that the campers somehow found their way to the city where the camp is taking place: some came by bus, some got rides on motorbikes, many others borrowed bikes, and one girl, from more than 10 km away, walked to camp!

My plan was to bike in with my kids, but unfortunately we had some bike technical difficulties (as is to be expected with the rusty contraptions that pass for bikes here). We were able to solve all but one, so four of us biked in – bags strapped behind us – and I was able to find another adult from my village to take the last camper on his motorbike.

Here we are, ready to set off on our 10-km ride to camp!

One of the first things campers did when they arrived yesterday was learn how to set up their mosquito nets. We’re sleeping in two classrooms at the biggest high school in town, 14 girls in one and 14 boys in the other. The campers are at that gloriously awkward stage of adolescence, where almost all the girls are taller than the boys. To tell you the truth, it’s hard to believe some of these boys are even old enough to be here they’re so small! Yet despite their looks, they’re all between the ages of 13 and 15, and they just passed their post-primary school exam to be able to continue on to middle school. Hopefully our camp will help prepare them to succeed!

A few of the girls and their mosquito nets. Everyone sleeps on a mat on the ground, as most of them do at home.

Because the kids have never done anything like this before, the campers were initially painfully quiet. And on top of that, they’re not very confident in their French, so they’re extra shy in speaking up during activities and sessions. Primary school is technically taught in French here in Burkina Faso, but in regions where pretty much all the students are Mossi (like here) teachers often revert to Mooré when the students don’t understand. Also, kids from villages (like these) rarely hear any French at home, so finding the time to practice and feel comfortable with the language is hard. But, that’s one of the opportunities we’re hoping to give them here at camp! So far they’re doing amazingly well. Little by little they’re opening up, they’re smiling, and they’re starting to have fun.

This morning one my counterparts from village came to help us teach about hygiene and hand-washing at camp. Here’s a photo of our group from Bissighin! (Plus my fellow PCV Chris, who works at the high school here in town.)

That’s about all I have time to write at the moment, but I’ll be sure to keep you updated! The camp sessions run through Friday, and our closing ceremony will take place Saturday morning. So far we’ve got one out of five nights done, and we’re on our way to completing our first full day of fun.

Thanks again for your help in making this camp happen!!!

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6 Responses to Camp des Leaders de l’Avenir

  1. Kathy Petron says:

    You are amazing Bridget!
    What a wonderful thing you are doing for those kids.
    And they must be motivated to have to work so hard just to get to the camp.
    I hope you have a very fun and successful camp.
    With all my love,
    Kathy

  2. Katie Roby says:

    Way to go B! I’m so glad the camp is off to a great start – I’ve been thinking about you :) Hoping that it continues to go well and that the kids – and you – continue to enjoy yourselves! Love you lots! xoxo

  3. Maura says:

    An awesome start to a grand adventure for these kids. Kudos to you and your fellow pcvs! Can’t wait to hear and see more…..
    Love to you!

  4. Kaela says:

    Aww, soooo wishing I could hop over to Burkina right now! Camp sounds like a blast so far and I’m glad to hear that the campers are opening up. Loving that picture with the mosquito nets, glad to hear (and completely not surprised) that you’re reinforcing good health practices! Love ya tons and can’t wait to hear more!

  5. Eileen Degnan says:

    Bridget, What a great opportunity you are providing these boys and girls. I’m sure it will be one of their most exciting memories, plus it will help them to be more successful as they continue their education. Your village will certainly be a better place for your being a PCV there. Congratulaions Bridget on yet another success! Love, Eileen and Mike

  6. Michael Degnan says:

    Bridget,

    As always wonderfully vivid and inspiring pictures and text. This is such an uplifting and life-changing experience for these youth. In addition to your skills as community organizer, microeconomist, health care worker, negotiator, fund raiser, blogger extraordinaire, multilinguist,you now add teacher and camp director. Most of us will never perfect all of these skills in a lifetime, but you have done so in under two years.

    I hope that this camp will also be a welcome change from village life.

    You bring the love of Christ to these people. Continue your amazing self-giving and fulfilling work!

    Love
    Mike

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