Thank you for your interest in Camp GLOW “Girls Leading Our World”. With the support of various U.S. and Nicaraguan grassroots donors, Peace Corps Nicaragua was able to bring 63 adolescent girls together from all throughout the country to participate in an empowerment and recreational camp from February 7-10, 2014.
After months of planning and fundraising, we were very excited when Friday, February 7 finally rolled around and the festivities could commence. Peace Corps Volunteers mobilized to create a caravan of participants from thirteen different regional departments in route to Vida Joven, Jinotega. The department of Jinotega is located in the northern mountains of Nicaragua, providing a beautiful backdrop for the camp with a refreshing, cooler climate. Vida Joven served as an ideal setting for the camp with cabin lodging and an array of recreational facilities including a gymnasium, baseball field, rock wall, canoeing, a ropes course and a nature labyrinth.
The campers arrived throughout the afternoon and were very eager to explore the grounds. As soon as all of the participants were registered and had settled into their dormitory cabins, everyone gathered in the auditorium for the welcoming announcements and instructions. Peace Corps was excited to introduce our counterparts for this year’s camp from Plan Nicaragua, an branch of of the development organization Plan International. Plan’s mission is “to achieve lasting improvements in the quality of life of deprived children in developing countries” and their specific areas of work in Nicaragua include promoting sexual and reproductive health, quality education, household economic security, child protection and participation and building of relationships. Our Plan counterparts included licensed psychologists, educators and youth promoters who facilitated the various workshops held throughout the camp, as well as team building activities. Plan also promoted their “Por ser niña” initiative, a campaign aiming to end gender inequality.
After watching the Por ser niña video, we distributed journals to the girls and they were instructed to write about their feelings regarding gender equality and how they felt at the camp thus far. For many of the girls, it was their first time away from their homes and the supervision of their parents. The journal was designed to be an outlet to express their thoughts and reflect on their feelings throughout the camp. During this time, we also decorated the Camp GLOW banner to display in the auditorium with hand-prints of the campers, Plan facilitators and Peace Corps Volunteers.
From the auditorium, we headed to the cafeteria to eat dinner. For many of the girls, it was their first time trying broccoli. After dinner, we gathered in the indoor gymnasium to play some “icebreaker games” facilitated by Plan. While Peace Corps Volunteers are well versed in icebreaker games, the Nicaraguan facilitators from Plan were able to incorporate cultural elements into the activities in ways that Peace Corps Volunteers would not be able to accomplish as easily. The Nicaraguan facilitators certainly enhanced the games, which made for a great way to kickoff our first evening together. The games also encouraged the participants to intermingle and make friends with girls from other regional departments. Since it was freezing at Vida Joven (comparatively speaking, of course) the activities quickly warmed everyone up with lots of running, dancing and singing. We all learned that evening that the girls had some serious dance moves. After breaking a sweat, the campers dispersed into different areas of the camp to engage in free time activities, which included volleyball, nail painting and collage making.
With the excitement of being away from home and making new friends, one can imagined that nobody wanted to go to sleep by our 10:00pm bedtime.