The day started early at 6am preparing breakfast for the group.
We had egg casserole, fresh fruit and toast. We couldn’t help but think that in a couple of hours the kids would be having a bowl of cereal with milk at the day camp. For some of the kids, the meals at the day camp may be the only food they have for the day.
We head to CDC and get our bracelets and report to the gym. This is where we wait for the children to arrive. Once they do there is chaos amongst us all. There are balls flying everywhere and a fort is to be built out of mats. The laughter and smiles are abundant.
At 9:30 we split up into our groups. The blue group heads for the garden. It is hot and humid but the 5 and 6-year-olds are excited to see what is growing. All summer they have planted seeds and now it is time to harvest.
First, Miss Kathy shows them a bag of Cheetos, explaining the importance of nutritional value in the foods we eat. They seemed to know all the answers but did not want to give up on eating Cheetos. We harvested carrots, green beans, rosemary and lettuce. We washed the vegetables and the children were allowed to take some home. After the garden we headed over to the park where the children were free to swing, climb and play in the sandbox. It is heartwarming to see the innocence in their young lives.
The yellow group headed to the library for the morning and we took a bus to a local library where they were settled into a computer lab to do some educational work. They had to complete two practice sessions before they were able to play games or watch shows on the computer. Helping the children when they struggled to get through a math question felt amazing. We learned that the literacy rate for these children is extremely low, less than third-grade level. Any child that is not at a third grade reading level will be held back in third grade. This became evident when at the library a 13-year-old using a computer was learning to read through a grade 2 level Bernstein Bear story.
After we finished with the computer lab, we had a healthy lunch and then the children were able to learn some dance moves through a dance instructor. It was nice to see the children dancing and enjoying themselves. All groups returned to the main meeting room for story time and crafts. Kids laugh and sing and the crafts turn out awesome. Another day comes to a close as we wait for their parents to come and pick them up. These children are amazing and even though we are here to serve them we are receiving much more in return.
-Teresa & Jo Anne