My apologies for the lack of blogging.. I actually wrote this in April and then never picked out the pictures. I’ll try to get a better update in soon, promise! And now back to the post:
From Monday through Saturday, April 4th through 9th, I joined forces with 5 other PCVs as a Camp Counselor for the first annual Tinghir Spring Camp. We all had a Moroccan counterpart (hemdullah!) and, combined, were in charge of 80 children.
I would provide you with a schedule, but that would just be silly – we never followed the same schedule for more than a day, and I don’t believe we ever followed the written schedule, either. The one thing we did do on a daily basis was wake up around 7:30 or 8, get to the boy’s dorm/mess hall area somewhere around 9, where there would be announcements, songs, and the national anthem, breakfast, and then.. well, and then I never really knew what we were doing until we were back in the girl’s dorm around 11pm with some amazingly hyperactive girls, hoping to get some sleep. After the first night, I went into a separate room to sleep; this greatly improved my camp experience.
Jeff and I taught English three times to around 25 beginning students – and here I must say that the Moroccan teachers were more helpful than they will ever know. Much like in Korea, students will be amazingly well behaved around the native teacher while impossible to control when left with the foreigner. Thus, Jeff and I were able to get away with teaching short greeting dialogues (and having the students perform them in pairs), teaching both Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes and The Hokey Pokey, and having the kids write/draw dialogs and labeled bodies without too much difficulty.
Several times the children were given time for “sport.” Some of the boys played soccer, and I observed a game that was like basketball minus the baskets. I took part in throwing a frisbee around, tag (only valid here if you tag the person on the head, much to my advantage), and Pam-Pum (a game in which the person in the middle yells “Pam!” as they point at someone, and the two people adjacent to the chosen one have to point at that person while yelling “Pum!” Simplistic, but popular with the younger girls ).
The first three days we did “clubs” in the afternoon. The subjects were preordained: Theater, Dance, or Fashion. Jo, a new volunteer who happens to have grown up near my hometown and went to my alma mater, co-chaired the fashion club with me. We were supplied with a sizable stack of newspaper, glue, scissors, markers and crayons, and tape: the goal was for the kids to create outfits (or, really, whatever they wanted) with said supplies. Jo and I were a little nervous about this plan at first, especially after it seemed like interest was waning towards the end of the first day, but the kids came back with a vengeance on the second and third days to create some relatively elaborate costumes – it was a hit!
On the fourth day, we went to the Todgha Gorge. I’ve only been there once before, and was happy to make it out there again. I managed to get a little alone time and check out a few bolted climbing routes (new, solid looking bolts!) and have tea with a nice family ripping up a field to get sand for a house they’re building closer to Tinghir. I walked up and down the touristy section with the kids, had a glorious coffee break with three of my fellow PCVs, and had a really great time escorting several small girls through shallow rapids – a game that could have lasted all afternoon, had we not been called back for lunch. A funny thing about that is that one of the girls was a native Darija speaker, and kept asking me, repeatedly, to go to the other side of the river with her so she could fix something about her pants. This lasted from the first time she got her pants wet all throughout lunch; after over an hour I relented. I figured she was wearing two pairs of pants, as everyone from my town does, and wanted to remove the inside layer due to it being really uncomfortable when wet. Not so. We get to the other side of the river, and this kid takes her (only) pants off and holds them out for me, telling me that she wants me to wash them – but not in the nearby ditch, which is dirty; it must be done in the river. I attempted to reason with this girl who doesn’t speak my language that the pants will be super wet and she won’t want to put them back on and that they’ll just get dirty again anyway… but if you’ve ever tried arguing with an exceedingly stubborn seven to eleven year old (I have no idea how old she is) who doesn’t speak any of the languages that you speak, you know that the kid wins. So I went down to the river, washed her pants (no soap, but I did get the patches of dirt out), and then came back, imploring her to put her pants back on. She just put them on a nearby rock to dry them out in the sun a little bit, not seeming to be phased by the local girl that came over to see what was going on (who also didn’t speak her language, but who I could talk to) or the fact that I had to stand in a certain position to hide her from the other kids, who were returning from lunch to play in the river. It probably took about 20 minutes of persuading, and wringing the pants out several times to squeeze every last drop of water out of them, for her to put back on her slightly damp pants and go back to the lunch area across the river. This experience struck me as rather strange, although perhaps it wouldn’t if I were an educator used to dealing with small children outside the classroom setting?
All in all, spring camp was a really great time – don’t think I’m going to get the chance to help out with any summer camps, but I look forward to spring camp again next year!