Amanda and I celebrating St. Patrick's Day 2012
After much scribbling and creative babbling we decided to call our summer camp experience 'Little Yogi's that Groove n' Give'.
Our idea was to have the campers Groove and do yoga everyday and MUCH more. The more just kept getting more and more exciting as we thought about what to incorporate into our camp. The campers would of course have the daily crafts that help make memories. Except, we wanted the campers and families to receive more than the normal camp experience that we all know and love - something that would impact they way the children live, be, interact, and love. We wanted to help raise awareness of how they treat others, themselves and help raise their awareness of the community and globe around them. For our first year of camp we decided that one way the campers could give back was to raise money for another child in need of help. We chose to work with Make-A-Wish foundation. We collaborated with them and arranged a 2km race for our campers. They operated the whole thing! They raised the money and with our help they trained for their race. Eventually at the end of camp, they ran their race and raised over $500 in one month! It was truly magical to watch the selflessness become a part of our campers being.
The next thing we wanted our campers to learn was how to respect and interact with elders in their community. We decided to have the children volunteer in a retirement community. The campers met a variety of people and listened to their stories attentively. The smiles on both the faces of the campers and the residents was heart warming. We taught the residents yoga, Groove, about the provinces, we made crafts and most of all...we shared love.
Our first year of volunteering at the retirement community
Above all else in camp, we wanted our campers to feel safe, loved and supported while they develop and find part of their authentic self. To do this, we encouraged listening, caring, and helping. We gave out love bombs (giant group hugs - with the conscious thought of love and healing) when campers were sad, hurt or in need. We shared strategies for resolving conflict in peaceful ways and encouraged sharing feelings and respecting them (think back to my post on the 7 Habits..."seek first to understand, then to be understood"). Overall, we left camp last year with a complete buzz of energy, and the feeling of success. The success came from positively impacting the lives of children of a variety of ages.
This year, Amanda and I couldn't wait to start planning out our camp adventures. We had full enrolment with returning and new campers. It was amazing to see how the campers shifted throughout the school year. How they became more of their authentic self and we are so happy we got to meet new campers that really made this year's experience enriched with AWESOMENESS. Our focus this year for the community came from something that I saw in a 7 Habits school. We created Boxes of Love...the campers brought in things they no longer needed and we talked about what we could do with it all...they decided to donate them. We donated old clothes, shoes, toys and books. We donated food to the local food bank. Our camps took a tally of what they had and took care to organize and package their donations.
We also had contact with an orphanage in Africa that Amanda's family runs. We had a Skype date with the children, wrote them letters and made them bracelets. The campers were so interested to learn about life there and many of them decided that one day they might find themselves in Africa sharing and helping. This really touched my heart. To immediately see how passionate the kids here became on helping and connecting with children who need extra love and support was amazing. The campers couldn't wait to volunteer again and remembered some of the folks from last year. This year they did piano performances and questionnaires. And our last learning for the week was about a ReTHINK campaign that Amanda's brother is doing. He is riding a 'elf' across North America to promote sustainable living. Our campers got to learn about his journey and decide what they were going to 'rethink' in life about how they use our resources.
Tumaini Children's Foundation: http://www.tuchifo.com/index.htm
The week was filled with learning, understanding, compassion, love and SMILES. As exhausted as Amanda and I were by the camp's ending, there is nothing in the world more rewarding than embracing the interests of children and helping them learn and grow into better more aware, authentic and loving people. It makes my heart full of love, energy and it makes me want to share our message and experience with many more children. In sharing with many more children, I hope to someday shape their lives by helping them become more conscious, loving, authentic beings!