Back in December during our camp for our scholarship students I began pondering projects for my final months as a PCV. I think it must have been afterwards because only when you are done with a camp can you imagine doing another one. Camps are just draining. You have to be on your “A” game for multiple days. Of course, I decided to take the crazy up a notch and suggest a camp of all boys. Who does that? Not to stereotype but teenage boys are ridiculous. However, my rationale was that because the sad fact (sad mostly because I joined Peace Corps to find my future husband--failed) that most PCVs in El Salvador are women we often find ourselves working on projects that aim to empower more women and as a result we often ignore young men. We have done several camps focused on all girls. I thought it was time to dedicate a camp to boys. If we are concerned about gender relations and the treatment of women we have to spend some time with the boys too.
Luckily, I found two amazing PCV friends (yoooo Kara and Jess thanks for everything) who believed in the idea and together we began the long process of soliciting money, planning a camp, and getting all the details worked out. Unfortunately, because of PC’s radical changes regarding transport, movement of volunteers, grant restrictions, etc we could not do the camp we dreamed of in the western part of the country. We had to cancel that camp completely. Just about impossible to pull off. I just about gave up the hope of an all Boys Camp when my homegirl Els decided to give me the extra push of motivation I needed to attempt to put on a regional Eastern camp. Thus, the camp was reborn, but we unfortunately could not includ the western part of the country, which means dissing some incredible PCVs and communities out west (Jess and Kara especially). Despite leaving the west hanging, our eastern camp was incredible. Thanks to my fellow PCV’s who made it all run so smooth.
The camp's focus was on male leadership, gender roles, HIV prevention, and sports/athletic competitions. We had 19 boys from the eastern part of the country (all from the communities of my favorite 5 PCV friends) for an entire weekend in Alegria, Usulutan (a wonderfully beautiful cool town in the east). We also had 2 volunteer university students who came from San Miguel who helped us give lessons and provide a little more “BRO-ness”since Tricia, Elsa, and I despite how hard we try, we can’t pull off being a BRO too well.
The highlights of the camp included hiking to the nearby crater lake, doing a relay race/obstacle course, having a soccer tournament between the communities, as well as tackling 7 lectures on HIV/AIDS, gender roles, and male leadership. We also included a fun movie night featuring The Avengers and a “BRO Night” where the male volunteers got the boys together to chat about all their doubts, questions, concerns, etc. The girls during that time prepared ice cream floats (yes, unfortunately we stayed along gender stereotypes on that one.)
Here are some pictures:
If you are interested in seeing more pictures of the camp you can check out my buddy Elsa's public album: pictures
Take care everybody.