Our weekend could not have started on a better note.
After walking around the City on Friday -- visiting Rockefeller Center, The Museum of Modern Art and St. Patrick's Cathedral -- we were invited to go to a barbecue at Huntington, Long Island, on Saturday.
Dr. Scanlon and his wife, who have been good friends of the World Youth Alliance, generously opened their home to the campers for a fun day by the pool. It was a day full of games, music, conversations, and of course, delicious BBQ. It was the perfect way to get to know each other better. Conversations centered around cultural peculiarities such as food, or certain words and habits that are different in each camper or counselor's home country.
Sunday was a relaxed, slow day which allowed everyone to recuperate after such an intense first week. After that, the second half of the camp started.
This week, campers are learning more about the advocacy side of WYA's work. On Monday, they listened to WYA Founder & CEO, Anna Halpine, give a talk about civil rights and the human rights project. In the evening,they attended a WYA Sum
m er Camp Alumni BBQ: a gathering where campers got to meet former staff and past campers. This gave them a c hance to listen to and trade stories about their best memories of past WYA International Summer Camps.
On Tuesday, the campers participated in a model negotiation following their training on maternal health. They were assigned to various interest groups (Donor recipient country X, Donor country Y, an NGO for reproductive rights, and the World Youth Alliance) and had the task of negotiating in writing and through dialogue what the main components of a good maternal health program should be. Only with consensus would the program be implemented within donor recipient country X. The common consensus was that they had all learned a lot, and it was a good activity for them to not only understand how negotiations work but also to realize how carefully words need to be chosen when writing official documents on political and international issues.
On Wednesday, campers attended a real negotiation, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that took place at the United Nations. Wearing their professional best, campers walked around the United Nations and listened attentively at the Conference. After taking diligent notes throughout the proceedings, the campers then answered questions about human dignity issues that WYA staff had previously prepared for them. It was a productive day and a new experience for many of us, and we all enjoyed taking part in a conference at the United Nations.
Now that the final days of the camp are drawing to a close, it is time for the last lessons (today the topic was HIV/AIDS), and to start getting ready for the imminent Talent Show on Friday night. Most of the campers are keeping their presentations a secret, so we look forward to being surprised and entertained by this amazing and talented group of campers.
We will keep you updated!
Sincetheir arrival on Sunday, campers have gotten to know each other and become a unified, fun group. Activities and lessons have been happening during these first days through which they have not only learned, but also experienced the ideas of human dignity and solidarity that WYA promotes. By interacting with each other and learning about each other's countries and cultures, our campers now realize how we share a common identity and that we need to look for the common good by living in truth. As Silvia, our camper from Mexico told us, "It's just amazing to be living with so many different people from different countries, listening how they speak French, Spanish and English at the same time, and learning from each other."
As all the counselors and interns agree, this year the campers are really nice and all of them are enjoying the mutual interaction. Jackie, a camp counselor from Tennessee, feels really happy to be taking part of the camp, "It's been great to see the campers evolve and grow so much in just a few days. Everyone shows such enthusiasm for the lessons and activities that it makes my job as a counselor ten times more rewarding."
"I really enjoyed presenting to the campers on the subject of Solidarity. I think they all had a good understanding of what being in solidarity meant and their attentiveness and willingness to join in the conversation made my job easier," that is what Elaine, one of the WYA HQ interns, said when she was asked about her presentation to the campers. The series of presentations at camp were of various topics and all of them contributed to the campers' personal growth. They have learned about freedom, culture, human dignity, and the relationship between the intellect and will, just to name a few.
But there has also been time for sports and games--time to have fun together, experiencing each other's dignity. On Monday they were in Central Park. Yesterday they participated in a scavenger hunt around Wagner College and this afternoon they kayaked in the Hudson River. This year's camp promises to be a fantastic opportunity for fun, friendship and learning.
Stay updated on the Summer Camp events as they happen: