Monday, September 27, 2010

Camp: The Girls Arrive!

September 26, 2010

We woke up this morning to do final preparations before the girls arrived. There was a lot of discussion about sessions, prepping on flip chart paper, and trying to figure out how to organize the girls into rooms and groups so they wouldn't be with their friends or someone else from their town. I led my abbreviated version of a counterpart workshop because we ended up only have 3 Senegalese counterparts, 2 of whom are male. The two male counterparts arrived early in the morning while we were still prepping so we couldn't entertain them and they were left to their own devices. Poor idea. Soon I overhear them talking about creating a camp personnel diagram so it's obvious to everyone who's in charge.

The counterparts are absolutely vital, integral to the camp's success, don't get me wrong, but they didn't come up with any of the sessions, know what was going on at this point, or do any of the organization so it was a little presumptuous of them to put themselves at the top. Katherine and I quickly explained to them that we already had a working organizational structure in place, but that we would love their help explaining activities, translating, and participating in other ways. Once the female counterpart arrived we went over what a camp actually is, our goals for the week, what we expect of the counterparts, what the counterparts expect of us, and the rules for the girls. I think it went over pretty well and we haven't had too much trouble with the male counterparts although they can be a little condescending.

The girls are from three different towns and one village in Thies, Pout, Mboro, Bombey, and Keur Demba Kebe respectively. So, after prep time was over Jackie, Erin, Alys, and Katherine jumped in a bus and went to pick up the girls. They were in the bus for almost 6 hours picking everyone up, they are champions. The rest of us were reading and waiting to welcome the girls when they arrived, assign their rooms, give them water bottles, and try to gage how excited they were. It's very difficult for me to read Senegalese peoples' emotions so I wasn't sure it everyone was just really nervous or if they found everything to be anti-climactic.

By the time all of the girls arrived it was early evening so we only did a few activities and ate dinner last night. We split the girls up into teams for the week and had them make a team flag. Arts and crafts are obviously going to be a huge hit this week since I was literally wrenching markers out of the girls' hands. They really, really, really enjoyed coloring and being creative. The flags look amazing (pictures will follow at the end of the week).

There was only one small hiccup with the food. Although I gave the kitchen staff an excel printout detailing what food to make for each meal and how many people were going to be at each meal, the first night was still a challenge. The PCVs were the only people eating this morning and then dinner switched to everyone so there was a big shift in numbers. I had spoken to the head of the kitchen staff after breakfast to remind him that it would no longer be 10 if would be 50. He told me he knew. Then as we are doing introductions with the girls he pulls me aside and tells me I've mislead him and that he's surprised to see so many people for dinner. He shows me his piece of paper which he claims says there's only 10 people eating. It shows 10 people eating breakfast, but 50 people eating dinner. After arguing about it for a few minutes, I ask how we're going to solve the problem since there's a room full of hungry girls. Miraculously he has enough couscous and meat to feed everyone. I was relieved, but at the same time annoyed that he obviously hadn't bought what we explicitly agreed on and what was listed on the printout.

Other than that everything went pretty well. Everyone is already exhausted but ready for our first full day.


  1. Alyssa,

    Good luck and have a great week. The girls will have a grand time.


  2. The counterparts are key. Make sure they understand how important this is.