The Summer Reading Camp has happened! / by Alan Strathman

The six days of the summer reading camp have come to an end!  I think it was a grand success.  And it would not have even happened without the support I received through the GoFundMe.com campaign.  Thank you all so much. Without your help it would have been nothing more than an idea. A missed opportunity. A disappointment because we had teachers interested in teaching and students interested in learning.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to hold the camp. And even more grateful to Dr. A, Jessie, Lauren, and Sarah, who came from Missouri to serve as teachers. Jessie, Lauren, and Sarah were very brave to sign up for this study abroad experience in this first year.  I am sure they understood that they would be the guinea pigs who would help us learn how to, and how not to, run a summer reading camp in St. Lucia. They came from the U.S. to this developing country with open minds and very generous spirits. Most people come to a place like St. Lucia and leave with their bags fuller and heavier (with souvenirs) than when they arrived.  Or they leave with an extra suitcase. Not so for these four folks.  They brought so many materials and prizes and books, all of which they left for our students, that they left not even needing the suitcases they brought. They were able to pack one bag inside another and still have room for their clothes and things.

Thank you Jessie, Lauren, Sarah, and Dr. A.

Jessie, Lauren, and Sarah arrived on July 31. August 1st is Freedom Day in St. Lucia and Carnival in Laborie. The Carnival parade is nothing if not eye-opening and mind-expanding. It was also their first of many doses of music blasting so loudly that no communication, or thought for that matter, is possible. We had dinner after the parade outside on the village square. We sat down, ordered food, and then listened as a deejay informed us that music was starting. It started and we never spoke again. As we were paying the bill, the music ended. Good timing.

Jessie, Lauren, and Sarah are studying to be librarians, not teachers. But they bravely taught groups of children that tend to be somewhat troublesome.  Fortunately we had both boys and girls and the girls help to moderate the boys' behavior.

The camp ran from 9 am to 1 pm, including lunch for the students. In the afternoons and on weekends we toured the island.  Here we are at Tet Paul, a short hiking trail with fabulous views of the Pitons.

Dr. A., Jessie, Lauren, Sarah, and I with our friends Doug and Hannah and her friend Lauren

Dr. A., Jessie, Lauren, Sarah, and I with our friends Doug and Hannah and her friend Lauren

Here are some images from the camp.

Jessie's class with the paper bag dragons they made after reading The Paper Bag Princess.

Jessie's class with the paper bag dragons they made after reading The Paper Bag Princess.

Karvel spelling in shaving cream in Jessie's class.

Karvel spelling in shaving cream in Jessie's class.

Derrell and Lee spelling Froot Loop words in Lauren's class. (Had to use generic fruit circles because Foot Loops are too expensive here.)

Derrell and Lee spelling Froot Loop words in Lauren's class. (Had to use generic fruit circles because Foot Loops are too expensive here.)

Ruthie and Teryn too.

Ruthie and Teryn too.

And, of course, Jaydah.

And, of course, Jaydah.

Sarah and her students Dave-v, Derrell, Derwren, and Kianté doing their morning class song.

Sarah and her students Dave-v, Derrell, Derwren, and Kianté doing their morning class song.

And, finally, two all-camp pictures, including campers, counselors, teachers, and camp cooks.

So many people came together to make this camp a success. All students experience summer loss. My hope is that the camp will help these 31 students experience less loss and be more ready to make progress when the new year begins. Thank you everyone.