Day Camp

Last week I was invited to help another Volunteer out with her summer day camp. This camp was in the second largest city in the country and in a minority neighborhood. It was sometimes confusing since they didn’t speak Bulgarian very well, mostly Turkish and Romani (the language of the Roma). All in all, we (meaning the other volunteers, I was the newest of all them)  were able to communicate effectively with them.The school was located in a busy section of this minority quarter. There were stands selling all kinds of Bulgarian snacks, car repair shops, Turkish pop music blasting from local cafes, mother’s taking their infants out to the market. It was a lively little street and I enjoyed walking it every morning. The school looked like a typical Bulgarian school: run down but full of character. Next door, still on school grounds, was a collapsing building, sandwhiched between an abadoned one. The abandoned building was a crack house. I wish I could say I was exaggerating, but our games were interrupted several times by local junkies making there way to the den.

We played with the kids in the morning, before it got too hot. We taught them how to play American Football (harder than it sounds) and Ultimate Frisbee. Not everyone who attended the camp went to the school. Some of them were street kids who happened to be in the area. It was ok and we accepted anyone who wanted to join us. In addition to playing games with them, we also taught them life skills (like tolerance and conflict resolution), painted glasses and t-shirts with them. Not surprisingly, the boys all made football jerseys. The most frequently mimicked players were Ronaldinio, Ronaldo, Kaka and Messi. I think every boy at one point drew or painted something with one of those athletes. It was interesting when we did facing painting, everyone wanted a Turkish flag instead of a Bulgarian one. Eventually, people started asking us for them, but the Turkish was way more popular.

I had a great time playing with the kids, teaching them how to throw a football and frisbee. I, however, looked like an idiot most of the time because I couldn’t understand the Turkish/Romani/Bulgarian mixture. I also got the chance to met some super volunteers. They were all from them the COD/YD group before me and it’s hard to imagine that they will be leaving this October. They’ve played the role of mentor to us. It won’t be long before the next COD/YD group will come (end of July).


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