This month, the Camp DeWolfe family went on a pre-summer camp adventure to the mountain town of Jinotega, Nicaragua to teach English and volunteer with Outreach 360’s Dare to Dream Summer Camp program. After serving in 2012, it was an absolute blessing and gift thanks to our supporters and donors, to be able to return to the Neighborhood Learning Center and see the same students! They had ALL grown in their maturity, skills, English and Spanish literacy, as well as height!!
We kicked off their first week of Summer Camp 2016 – facilitating camp games and activities, all around the theme of learning to respect the dignity of all persons, including those physically disabled. From blindfolding mazes, silent charades and color challenges, to no armed water transfer relays and pairs bracelet making with no arms, to no legged soccer games, the activities were engaging and fun for students to enjoy! Students also enjoyed handicapped bridge model making and an art program including puppet shows. All of which in a small 90 degree tin-roofed, concrete floored, breeze-blocked center in a shanty town in the mountains. The background of camp certainly wasn’t the luxurious Long Island NY with the ocean views and AC, however the children were all just as excited, energized, engaging and fun as any other summer campers on the planet!
From neighborhood walks through the dusty roads, to mountain hikes with volcanoes on the horizon, to a 6.2 Earthquake on Thursday night, to coffee bean and cacao bean tasting, to exploring the Selga Negra (Black Forest) listening to the howling monkeys, we all soaked up the beauty and majesty of God’s natural setting in Nicaragua deep into our souls. However, it is always absurd to be reminded that these kind-hearted people are fighting to survive on just $2 a day, working from ages 5 and up, with education being rare past the age of 10, where class sizes are 1:60 for only a half day of elementary education. For us, we took it all in as a reflection and life-check on priorities – for our children in the Learning Center it is a daily reality of life.
We are so thankful that Outreach 360’s grass-roots year-round permanent neighborhood learning center provides free Spanish and English classes for children up to ages 16 to attend for their 2nd half of their day. This is not just to keep them from being forced to work in the coffee plantations, but to provide an opportunity of choice for their future.
For more information, please check ‘Dreaming Nicaragua’ and ‘No Passaran” documentaries about Nicaragua, and also www.outreach360.org to get involved and help make a difference in the lives of children. There are options to volunteer, short-term and long-term, donate gifts, items and raise awareness as well as re-thinking priorities in the west that can positively affect the global community we are a part of today. We certainly cannot wait to return to Nicaragua next year and take another team down from Camp DeWolfe/Diocese of Long Island. These children are God’s children who are our children! And Camp life is camp life!
Our prayers are that we all may be ever mindful of the GIFTS of running clean water, 3 meals a day. education, shelter, transportation and electricity – all of which are just not a constant or present reality for more than 80% of our brothers and sisters in 21st century world today. May God continue to open our eyes to see how we can BE love through serving actively in our local communities, as well as globally, this summer.