Today was the seventh day of camp in Gyumri. There are 180 eager children preparing for song competition on Thursday. In the hallway you can hear the different groups practicing and rehearsing their songs. The kids yell at the top of their lungs while they sing. I believe that they are convinced that this will guarantee them the win. When they are not practicing the songs the are learning English, having hygiene discussions, listening to educationals or competing with the other teams in a variety of activities for points.
Nare and I are the leaders of the orange team. We were in third place with the amount of points until Friday. By winning first place in the bucket-filling contest we began our winning streak; we won soccer yesterday and limbo today. After the first win, the drive in the kids to win was sparked. They are ready to compete and fight to win the competitions. The camaraderie amongst the children has also grown and they work as a team to win. Our group consists of six to twelve year olds and seeing the way they work together is amazing. The older ones always make sure that the younger ones receive their breakfast first and help them understand the games we play. They are given breakfast and lunch daily and always offer to help clean up. One of our kids, Jivan, eats his meal quickly so that he can be the first to offer his help. I truly enjoy seeing their eagerness to help and work together.
Our hygiene discussion today consisted of dental and smoking. After completing the discussion we asked if anyone had any questions or comments. One of our younger boys, David, who is eight years old, raised his hand and said that everyone needs to use their will power to avoid starting to smoke and stand up to their friends who call them weak and less manly. He mentioned that he was made fun of for being a dancer and how he overcame that because of his pride and realization that he had a talent that his friends did not. This was one of my favorite discussions with the children that I have had since camp started. This showed that they can stand above the influence and can fill their time with other activities that will keep them away from smoking and other influences.
Tomorrow we will continue practicing our songs for the competition and review everything they have learned thus far. They enjoy learning English songs, especially the ones with counting. When I ask my group which English song they want to sing, the first is always “Five Little Monkeys” and then “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” We will review those tomorrow and possibly teach them a new song as well.
I can’t believe the two weeks are almost over. It seems as though it was yesterday that we were counting our supplies and preparing to meet the new campers. Now we are preparing for the song competition and saying goodbye. The orange team will always have a place in my heart.