Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Mongolia Youth Leadership Camp 2015

After months and months of planning and stressing out, we finally got to organize the Mongolian Youth Leadership Camp on June 15- June 17, 2015!  There were times when I wasn't sure if this camp was going to happen, but thanks to everyone's help and support, it did!  Before I go any further, I just want to say a big MAHALO to everyone, for any advice, knowledge, encouragement or donation given towards this camp!  It couldn't have happened without you!

Now, I will post a lot of pictures and descriptions that hopefully detail some of what happened during camp!

Our camp was hosted at a health resort, and there were many springs located in this area.  This was the hot spring that was about a 8 minute walk away from camp.

The day before camp, the junior counselors and Peace Corps Volunteers met together to introduce themselves, review the camp schedule, guidelines, and plan the leadership and life skills lessons.  

Hard at work!  Thank you to the junior counselors: Buba, Ujie, Tsomo, and Haliuna.  They worked so hard facilitating the lessons in Mongolian and were great role models for the children!  Thanks also to Ayumi, the JICA volunteer from Japan, Peace Corps Volunteer Nicole and Peace Corps Volunteer Rebecca who also helped out as team leaders.  They were a huuuge support during camp and I am so thankful they gave their time :)

We arrived at camp around 10:30 and had a tea break, of course!

Camp introductions were held outside, because the weather was so beautiful!

The campers were split up into four teams, which were lead by two team leaders, one Peace Corps (or JICA) volunteer, and one Mongolian junior counselor.

In order to find their teams, campers received a notebook with a slip of paper inside, each paper had a name of an animal on it, and the campers had to find their teams by making the noise of the animal that was on their paper.

Once they were split up, each team had to design a team flag and come up with a team chant.

Everyone was a little shy at first, but definitely warmed up by the end of the day.

Team Peace Kittens!

Team Rainbow!

Team Dream!

Team Nature!

The main objective for camp was to encourage campers to become future leaders and peer role models by facilitating leadership and life skills lessons and letting them practice those skills during camp.  Some of the lessons we taught were managing emotions, self esteem, effective communication, decision making, goal planning, making action plans, qualities of good leaders, methods to resist peer pressure, and empathy.  A majority of the lessons were facilitated by the team leaders, but Deegi (our amazing translator) and I taught self esteem and methods to resist peer pressure as a large group. 

Rebecca and Haliuna talking to the Peace Kittens

Nicole and Ujie working with their team, Dream

Ayumi and Tsomo with the Rainbow team

Buba and I talking with our team, Nature

Every moment that they were not in session, eating, drinking water from the springs, the campers were outside playing volleyball!  They looooove volleyball here.

We also tried teaching them some Ultimate Frisbee, but they needed to work on their throwing and catching skills first.  Sometimes they would play soccer too.

On the first day, Deegi and I facilitated a self-esteem session together.  At the end of the session, we had the campers draw their handprints and then write on it their special talents, interests, or dreams.  Then we posted them up for everyone to see.

After the group session, we also did some Zumba!  Some of the boys got really into it and did that for their physical activity the next day!

The first evening, we had a Movie Night.  It was a little difficult since the Activity Hall didn't have heavy curtains over their windows, and also because the sun didn't set until 11:00pm, and our movie was at 7pm.  Half of the kids opted to play volleyball outside instead, haha.

At the end of the day, we all gathered in a big circle outside and sang the Good Night Song.  It was seriously the sweetest moment.  Even the older boys knew the song, and were singing along, that melted my heart.

Lights out was at 10:00 pm.  That meant that everyone had to be inside their cabins by 10:00pm and should be trying to sleep.  I didn't realize how much of an adult I had become until Lights out Time.  I remember as a child, I was so frustrated at my parents for enforcing a bedtime at a time when I wasn't tired at all!  Well, I just got a taste of my own medicine trying to get these campers to go to bed!  

It was hilarious, but also soooo tiring stalking around at night with my flashlight making sure everyone was safe in their cabins.  I was SO tired, I don't understand how these kids had so much energy!  The second night was definitely worse, Tseveenee (the Children Center staff worker) and I had to check in on them every 30 minutes until midnight for them to fall asleep.  Every time they thought we had left, they would turn the lights back on and try to sneak outside (the boys and girls were knocking on each other's cabin doors).  Tseveenee and I were hiding and would jump out from the shadows and tell them to go back to sleep.  It took us surprising them a couple of times before they stopped.

And of course all the kids were awake, bursting with energy at 6 am!! We had morning exercises, lead by the junior counselors, at 8 am and then breakfast afterwards.  After breakfast was more life skills lessons, lunch, art, a relay race, group session about peer pressure, dinner, and then a dance!

The team flags decorating the Activity Hall

We also hung up some of the drawings and paintings that they made.

Life skills!!

Building a paper tower, using non-verbal communication

Reviewing the last session and prepping for the next one

Some posters from the Peer Pressure session that Deegi and I did together

From our communications lesson, about saying positive vs negative things to each other.

They were playing volleyball outside, even as storm clouds gathered above.

The relay race!

We held a dance on our last night.  The campers were way too shy to dance, and also I guess I don't know what kind of music kids listen to nowadays, so we had a bunch of team competitions instead.  The first was to come up with a team dance.  It was very imaginative, and some of the campers really knew how to dance!  The next challenge was to build a team pyramid.

Another challenge was the couple that could dance holding up a balloon in between themselves the longest.

The last was Nicole's brilliant game, popping a balloon tied to their opponent's foot.  The person who's balloon is left un-popped wins.

It was a super close game!  Each team won lollipops for their participation.

In the morning of the last day, we walked to the hot spring with all of the campers

Everyone chilling out


They also collected water from the cold spring.  It does look like they are getting water from a puddle, but I guarantee there was water flowing out of the ground and it was really refreshing.

After breakfast, we had our last life skills session, about empathy.

After tea break, we all gathered in the activity hall, I made a small speech, gave everyone their certificates, took a group picture outside and then we were done!

Of course, we had to wait about 3 hours after camp ended because the bus, that was picking us up, got stuck in the river bed and couldn't get out.  Eventually another bus came to pick us up, and we rescued the first bus too.  It was an adventurous end to camp!

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