Thursday, May 9, 2013

2012-2013 School Year Comes to an End

Thanks to Annelise, one of our fantastic volunteers from BC for making this video and for uploading many pictures to the tumblr over the course of the year.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Afterschool goes to Brandeis

I was sorry to learn the the Halloween party at Emanuel was cancelled because of Superstorm Sandy. I was trying to think of something nice to do for the children to make up for it. So I invited them over to Brandeis the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. We had a small meal of grilled cheese, an apple, hot apple cider, hot chocolate, and cupcakes. The kids seemed to have a great time.

Sr. Joanne was very happy for them to see the Brandeis campus, and add another college to the list of places they have been. It's never to early to put the college bug in a young scholar's ear, right?

I enjoyed meeting the children I did not know and catching up with my former campers. They are a bright and cheerful group, and well behaved to boot. It was also nice to see my old boss, Mrs. Grayson along with Sr. Joanne and Lorraine "Ma" Smith. Before the children had to leave we all said one thing we were thankful for. It was a nice time of fellowship in the Thanksgiving Spirit.

Credit where credit is due...
I want to thank my friends Mehraj, Dan, Ari, and Ross for the use of their apartment. I would have hosted the children in my own room, but I live in a dorm and have only a single person bedroom with not nearly enough space for 13 pleople. I also want to thank my friend Deepti who helped me prepare food, clean the apartment before the children arrived, and helped clean up after they left. It is because of them that we were able to have such a nice time.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Beginning to a beautiful end

When trying to take the time to sit down and write this, it seemed like it was one of the hardest things to do. I had convinced myself that I would do it in due time. However, obviously by the date of this you can tell this is the only later I have come to know. In trying to really understand and delve into my experiences as first as an after school member, to a church goer, to a camp counselor, to now...there are a lot of things to be grateful and thankful for. Most of all though, it is for one person to say they believe in you and have that change your whole world.

As an after school member I hardly really remember coming to, but what I do remember was learning how to double dutch, which at the time seemed like the most complex things. Jumping with one rope was in my past, for two was always better than one. I remember the van ride that picked us up from Mission Grammar. I remember never wanting to do homework...I mean I know the reason for me coming is to get work done, but I could always do it at home. I never understood why we had to be quiet during homework time either, I mean multitasking was a specialty of all children. We could possibly do homework and converse. And for a long time I could not understand how a women who was shorter than me could make one sound and quietness would hush any mouth and even as short as she was, she always knew when one person in a room full of 30 kids, was still talking. But many days when we would be hushed, she was not telling us only to be quiet, rather she was telling us stories of what she wanted each of us to be and that was greatness. I for one do not remember a story she told, if you ask me now, but I remember asking why? Why was it so important for us to become great. I mean were we destined to become anything we wanted and she wanted us to become great. What was so good about that? It was more than becoming great, rather she was probably for most, the first person to say to a child how much she believed they could amount to anything they put their mind to. Maybe for me as these questions arised in my own mind, I wanted to make her proud. So when she promised she would always hold a spot for me as a camp counselor, I made sure I took her up on that offer. Even though I had switched schools, had only seen her in church every Sunday, she reminded me every Sunday of her promise; asking me my age every Sunday as well.

When I started in 2004, 14 years of age I was by far the most nervous there. I didn't know what she or the person I would be working with expected. Luckily my first year I had the privilege of working with Andy and Dominque. They showed me by example what they were doing and I followed, always asking if it was correct, not wanting to mess up. After that year had passed it got easier. The next year Ben came and I was still working alongside Dominque as Andy left and it was much easier to get comfortable. The year after that I was now in charge of my own group. I think I asked Sister Mary about five different times, if she was sure. I told her I was fine working with Dominque. She looked at me and said, "You are ready. You can't keep walking in the shadows of someone else. You must do it on your own now and I believe you can. Now stop asking me if I am sure. You think I don't know what I am doing?" I sure did not want to be the one to tell her she didn't know what she was doing and she was wrong so I came in that summer prepared...well over prepared but by the second week I got the hang of it and I had the confidence not only to lead my group but also train someone else who may like me have to take my place one day.

Throughout the years, Ben and I took the train together discussing the day and the kids, how they had their own personalities. We discussed what worked that day, what didn't, what we could expect the next day, the next week, and even the next year. And as the years went on and we have seen every person come in and go out; we've had some hard years and some questionable years, but always knowing in the back of our mind one day we would have to be the ones who would not come in again, rather we would be the one who would go out. And this year we will. It is hard knowing the comfort of having a job that is so good. It is a job that is challenging but we smile more than if I was working any other job. We get more hugs than if I was even holding a "free hugs" sign during Christmas at Downtown Crossing. We are greeted most days with smiles and even though Ms. Grayson has her ways, you can clearly see even through her own sarcastic manner she enjoys what she does. So trading the smiles, the screams, the singing, the years, and the warmth of hugs, to enter the "real world," I can only be grateful for the memories as those. I can be appreciative for getting to know a heroine like Sister Mary and even as her memory lives on and children come in and out of the program many of them are too young to know the woman who the camp now is dedicated to. We can only hope through the shared memories of laughs and bringing her up and the few who do know her carry on. We can only hope that she is never forgotten, for a person like her, can never be forgotten. I can pray that she watched over me finding a place like hers and hopefully my love for children will not fade.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

End of Camp Video

Well camp ended last Friday. We are still working on loading the videos from the talent show, but here is the slideshow showing many of the different activities we did and the trips we took. Enjoy.

End of an Era

I first started working at the Summer Camp program in 2005. I didn't really decide to do it so much as Sr. Mary made me do it. I was 14 years old at the time, and it was my first real job. She placed me with Mrs. Grayson's group (Group 1, the 4-6 year olds) and told me to do whatever Mrs. Grayson told me and to learn from Mrs. Grayson. So I did the best I could, tried to keep kids in line and make their days fun. I got to know how complicated a "he said-she said" argument between kindergarteners can be. That summer I made some money, had a good time, and gained some experience.

The next summer, when I was 15, I returned to summer camp by my own decision. I worked under Mrs. Grayson with Group 1 again. It wasn't until I was 16 years old, that I was ready to lead the group of young children. As time passed, Sr. Mary stepped down as program director and left Mrs. Grayson in charge. Sr. Mary still told me to do whatever Mrs. Grayson said and to learn from her. And that's what I've been doing these past 7 summers.

The summer camp program has meant a lot to me. I have gained many skills from the duties I had to perform. I have learned how to handle not only young children, but my peers better because of the summer camp. The camp has helped me to grow and mature as I went through my high school, and now my college years. I tell anyone who asks that it is the best summer job in the world. My friends have had all sorts of summer jobs and experiences, but I wouldn't have traded places with them for an instant.

Of course I can't talk about working at this summer camp without mentioning Khadija. She started working here the year before I did, and so she has 8 years under her belt. That means combined we have 15 years of experience! We had known each other through church before we started working at the camp, but we got to know each other better through the summer camp. Throughout my seven years at this program, the only faces I have seen ever summer in the staff are Mrs. Grayson, Renee, and Khadija. I wouldn't say that we are pros, but I would say that we have developed into competent, fun, and engaging counselors.

Sadly for both of us, this was our last summer. We had both been saying for the past few years that "this summer might be our last one," but this time it is true. She has graduated Salem College in North Carolina and is off into the adult world. I will be studying abroad in Lima, Peru next Spring and their semester runs through July, meaning that I won't be able to work at the camp next summer. The summer after that I will have graduated college and I too will be exploring the adult world. I don't know if we are moving on to "bigger and better things," but we are moving on to the next thing. Not because we are tired of camp, but because it's just time for us to go on. I know that next summer, I will miss camp dearly, and I am sure that camp will miss us. But I am equally sure that the campers will be in good hands.

It's been great to meet new kids each summer, and it's been even better to see returning campers as they grow through the years. Khadija and I have been at this camp for almost a decade, so it is the end of and era at the summer camp. It is also the end of an era in our lives. All we can say is thank you. Thank you Sr. Mary, for seeing the potential in us and making us believe in it. Thank you Mrs. Grayson for showing us how mature and skilled we could be. Thank you campers for not giving us too much trouble. And finally, thank you God for all those summers.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Puppet Show

Last year we added a new field trip to the schedule. It was a trip to see a puppet show, and it was my favorite trip of the summer. I was very pleased to see it on the trip schedule again this year, and Keayra and I had a lot of fun with the 10 campers we chaperoned on the trip to see the puppets today at the Puppet Showplace Theatre in Brighton.

Children's Museum

We went to the Children's Museum yesterday!