By mid-week we’ve really hit our strides with our Dominican routines, and this small strip of Cabarete and Sabaneta is starting to feel like home. Once again we started our day with yoga with Helf, this time in our new “studio” (the roof of the hotel bar, which happens to look right over the ocean and get a lovely breeze.) After getting into our flow, and enjoying a shivasana, we were ready to hit camp for Day 3!
As we’ve gotten into the rhythm of the camp day, our campers have as well, no longer asking what activity is next or where to lineup for water, and instead starting to break out of their shells and get a little louder, a little sillier and quicker to come to us with their problems (a small burn from the hot glue gun in art, an issue with another camper in their group). Most issues require a simple “you’re going to be OK” or a smile and a hug, and the campers jump right back into the flow of the day. At Scatico we’ve been following the lead of DLs, program heads, and other counselors and staff, but here we are our campers first resource; they share with us before they share with anyone else, and it’s empowering to know that even with limited language abilities we are able to problem solve, address their needs, and keep smiles on their faces all camp morning long.
And now for the day’s activities!
Today’s English lesson was on body parts, involving a rousing rendition of “heads, shoulders, knees and toes” and then playing a version of “Teacher Says” (like Simon Says), that focused solely on body parts (teacher says touch your head, touch your arms, etc).
In art we embarked on age appropriate projects, with the younger kids creating popsicle stick turtles (Pinterest is full of wonderful ideas), and the two older groups demonstrating tremendous patience while making a somewhat complicated origami bracelet. We gave the pink group the option of either project since we worried they wouldn’t be able to catch on to the intricate folding bracelet design, but they went for it! Nothing like the camp atmosphere to encourage a healthy challenge by choice.
At sports it was time to learn a girl’s side Scatico favorite: BBK. A mix of basketball and kickball, this was the first time we taught BBK at the Sabaneta school and the campers picked up on the semi-involved rules incredibly quickly, dribbling, passing and kicking through loud laughs and cheers. The game was such a hit that some boy CITs (also first-time players) have vowed to even spread it to boys side back in the 12523. Our hope is that Sabaneta campers will be playing BBK at school recess long after we leave.
Back at the Home Depot station, we finished off our shelves and even slapped on a coat of paint! Our list of construction skills just grows and grows. We also started our Sabanete/Scatico day camp picture book. Thanks to a great idea from Eliana, we are writing and illustrating a large bilingual picture book all about our week with the campers, which we will present to them and their families at our goodbye party on Friday. While we got creative in the library, our campers were at lectura working on writing cards (many of which became adorable gifts for us.)
Sadly by 12:30 the final whistle blew, and it was “hasta mañana” to all of our DREAMers.
The “blue submarine” was extra encendido (as a reminder, lit) this afternoon, as we stuffed our faces with burritos from Gorditos (shout out to Anna and Simons for actually going all out with pork burritos, while the rest of us wimped out sans tomatoes and beans). With half of us partaking in an hour and a half nap, and the rest of us in a full on Broadway show-tune sing along, we headed towards Damajagua, our afternoon excursion destination located just outside of Puerto Plata.
Once we arrived at Damajagua (a series of 27 pristine waterfalls down a mountain), we hopped off the bus in our water shoes and bathing suits, ready for the excursion of a lifetime. All geared up in our blue life vests and helmets and with Nino and Angelis as our guides, we trekked a seemingly interminable path into the jungle, until it was time to begin. Scaling down two ladders into the crystal blue (and freezing) water we started it off with a series of cheers (and “hi guys,” apparently some Youtube thing) in one crazy rock formation. Though hard to explain, Damajagua is essentially a series of mini waterfalls and a river that cut through a mountain, so as we walked through the water, sheets of rock towered over us.
We slid, jumped, leapt, and crawled down 7 waterfalls in total, each one more exhilarating than the last. With our arms doubled across our chest, Angelis propelled us down naturally made water slides, and we loudly (and uncoordinatedly) splashed into the water below. The climax came at the second to last fall, where we had the option to slide once and then jump twice off of a 15-foot drop. Facing our fears and cheering each other on to be bold and share in the unique adventure, we screamed our way through the air. Sadly, no photos since it was too hard to carry a camera down, but the eventually released go-pro footage will say it all. Once we finished it was a 20 minute walk back to the entrance, lined with mango trees, cacao trees, and framboyans (a thin tree with beautiful red flowers).
Slightly wet and back on the blue submarine, it was another 50/50 split between napping and belting “bangers” (a frequent but vague song request from the CITs), until we reached (drumroll please) THE SUPERMARKET (there is no underestimating our extreme excitement, for the most mundane of places). This time we switched Janet’s for Playero (a decidedly nicer and more well-stocked supermarket) and filled our carts with granola bars, powerade, nutella and more.
A quick turnaround at the hotel was necessary to make our 7:30 reservation at Leaf, located on Cabarete beach right next to Cocoron (where we ate two nights ago). With BBQ chicken, pasta, fish, and a bacon cheeseburger as our options it was NO surprise that the first option was not so popular, while the last one was a home run.
Back at the hotel it was time for our nightly meeting (also at our new “studio”), to discuss wrapping up our library project, a poem we’re going to learn and perform for the goodbye party, and to receive our COLOR WAR teams. Our pow-wow was briefly interrupted by a well-intentioned and outgoing cigar-toting gentleman, who took the time to thank us for our service work. A longtime Cabarete resident (by way of France), he shared how he’d seen firsthand how DREAM volunteers make an impact in the community, and thanked us for participating,
Giggling but appreciative, we called it a night, feeling ready for our last “normal” camp day pre Friday’s competitions and celebrations.