DAY 5: CAMP AND CHI CHE’S CAVES

Quote of the day: “Their happiness is contagious”- Ellie Klein re the enthusiasm of our campers. “Spread the love,” Alex Jaramillo about our work here.

Dominican phrase of the day: Chinola aka their word for passion fruit (delicious passion fruit drink at today’s BBQ…more on that later).

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We are happy to report we had another tremendously successful day at the campamento! As we walked off the bus we were greeted by kids literally running into our arms, beyond excited to start. Sticking to the three station system we introduced our campers to Skippy Ball (basically baseball but with a mini basketball instead of a baseball/softball) in sports (Alexa knocked all the fruit out of a tree during her at bat), made dream catchers (trapa sueños in Spanish) in arts n crafts (an appropriate project considering we are with the dream project), and taught numbers in English by breaking into smaller groups and getting to work more intimately with the kids. After a full rotation of stations we organized a full camp Shake n Pop (ambitious to say the least), which is a new game/ dance that has taken girls side by storm back at Scatico. Basically, everyone gets in a circle and dances to the “Shake n Pop” official song, passing around dance moves. Let’s just say the dominican kids shake and pop it a little better than we do.

Skippy ball in the yard.
Skippy ball in the yard.
Catching DReams!
Catching DReams!

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Number games in ESL.
Number games in ESL.

Following camp we headed back to the official DREAM center in Cabarete for a burrito lunch, before heading off with Chi Che (DREAM’s beloved security guard) to El Choco National Park for a stroll to Cabarete’s own caves. Interesting findings from our time with Chi Che:

1. He knows everyone in the Callejon neighborhood of Cabarete (or they are all his relatives)

2. The dead animal on the side of the road was just a chicken

3. He planted a palm tree in 1986, that is now one of the tallest around

4. The caves of Cabarete are some of the largest in the world (this warrants googling)

5. When exploring one underground water cave scuba divers enter at 10 AM and do not emerge out the other side until 4 PM

Outside the cave.
A group of regular spelunkers.
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Cave swims!

After our afternoon excursion we had some down time at the hotel and took the opportunity to reflect on the camp thus far and how we could make it even better for our remaining days. Of course, language barriers remain an obstacle, but it is incredible the extent to which we can connect with the kids even with limited vocabulary (plus translations from the staff and Alex always help). We have learned just how far a smile and a “how’s it going?” can go, and the meaning of just being there, participating in the activities, showing that we care, and bringing the enthusiasm. As Libo shared on the first day, we can’t imagine our lives without camp and how much it has done for us, and it is amazing to know we are providing these kids with what we hope is a comparably awesome (and for them, incredibly unique) experience. Even though our DR camp is in a school building, and Skippy Ball is played in a gravel courtyard instead of a real field, and each kid can only get a handful of beads for their dream catchers, limited resources do not limit our joint fun or impact. With their unlimited curiosity and energy, the campers have already taught us so much about the beauty of a camping experience that we had taken for granted.

Our Tuesday closed with a lovely beachfront BBQ and a trip into Cabarete to walk along the beach, where we were followed by a stray dog who tried (unsuccessfully) to come back with us on the bus.

Nick gets artsy with his "meta" BBQ photography.
Nick gets artsy with his “meta” BBQ photography.

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We can’t wait for 9 AM when we get to see more smiling faces!

The CITs

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