I think I need to start taking vitamins or something. I just spent 10 days traveling with 10 adolescent girls and 2 staff members to the United States Virgin Islands for an OBG Adventure Camps excursion and I am exhausted. Pooped. Tired. Done. Burned out. And fried like crispy chicken. But I can tell by the way my cheeks feel that I must've been smiling in my sleep. I am beyond happy. In fact, whatever this feeling is that I'm carrying around in my heart is so intensely joyful that there are no words in any dictionary or any thesaurus that can give justice to the way I feel. So I'm not going to even try. You'll just have to trust me on this.
I don't know how to give you a synopsis of the past 10 days. So many things happened that were supposed to happen and so many things didn't happen that were supposed to happen. There were people who asked me if my group of Brown Girls were underprivileged or traveling on a grant. ("What makes you ask?" I would politely respond.) There were people that had never heard of travel adventure camp and wanted to know where to go to sign up their children. There were people that remarked about how well behaved the girls were. And then there were the local island people that either gave us a ride in an open air taxi or stepped outside of their St. Thomas storefronts and simply smiled at the group of smiling Brown Girls in their neon orange t-shirts and hoodies as they meandered down the street. (Okay, maybe they didn't meander...LOL.)
But the most important thing about this journey wasn't other people. It was the girls. They played pattie cake, got bug bites, saw wildlife, swam, argued, hoola-hooped, kayaked, laughed, sailed, shared, threw frisbees, explored, ate, cried, parasailed, slept, yelled, read, played volleyball, danced, pet and ran from grasshoppers, stayed up late, skipped, whined and devoured watermelon and mangos. On Culture Night, they brought costumes and artifacts from a culture that was not their own and proudly recited Interesting Cultural Facts (ICFs). On Show N Tell Night, they brought personal items that had meaning and shyly shared their stories. They begged me for s'mores and asked me Why This and Why That more times than I can count.
But I did it. I kept a promise I made to myself close to 20 years ago and I can now proudly say that I am playing a small part in the growth of children and how they view the world and themselves. And because I cannot physically see the growth, I was feeling a little insecure yesterday as I mentally played back the last 10 days in my head. And then I got this email and smiled (ok, cried) myself to sleep:
hello i hope ur home safely. i had alot of fun at camp. i am pouring tears. i miss u alot and everybody else but mostly u, miss coco, and lauren. i hope i get 2 c u guys again and come 2 camp next year. my mom tells me that u thought i was really good at camp and i pleased u well. thanks alot u r one of my heros...u helped me c that a brown gurl is no different than any other color gurl and i am thankful 4 that so much and i never thought i would say this but i love you truly. ***
You can read more about CampCaribe 2010 here and CampCaribe 2011 here and here. CampHawaii 2012 debuts July 25. See also, the Passport Party Project.