These past few weeks have been some of the busiest weeks of my service thus far. My roles on all the committees I serve on have come to fruition and it’s summer, which means it is the season of camps. Like I mentioned in my last post, I recently planned and implemented a girls empowerment camp in my city. After that camp, it was time for another camp! Back to back camps?! Some may think I am crazy, but I will take whatever work comes my way.
Last year I heard about Kampi Pa Emer from other volunteers, but was unable to attend because of previous commitments. After seeing last year’s success I knew that it was something I wanted to be a part of this year. Kampi Pa Emer is an annual summer camp in Librazhd which seeks to bring together Roma children and Albanian children to build bridges between the two communities. The camp was founded in 2008 by an Albanian from Librazhd and her husband, who is a returned Peace Corps volunteer from Albania. They met during his service 5 years ago – super cute!
I had the opportunity to volunteer for the first three days of camp, but the camp went the entire duration of the week. We had three current Peace Corps Albania volunteers, two returned Peace Corps Albania volunteers, two Peace Corps Macedonia volunteers, and four Albanians serving on the staff. We worked together to schedule the program everyday and implement the entire camp. It was a blast! This camp also embodies the idea of sustainability because it is run by Albanians and Peace Corps volunteers come in to support with activities and lessons. The camp is funded through donors in America, local donors, and through World Vision. World Vision provided the campers with breakfast and lunch for the first three days of camp this year. Kampi Pa Emer is actually in the process of applying for NGO status and should hopefully begin implementing other camps in other cities across the country.
The camp was full of fun activities for the children including: stretching, meditation, hula-hooping, soccer, arts and crafts, games, skateboarding, and much more. On my final day, the camp-director and I implemented an awesome GLOW: Girls Leading Our World lesson about self-esteem and empowering others. It was really heart-warming and a special experience for me, the director, and the girls. The whole lesson was also done in Shqip, so I felt pretty accomplished that I was able to co-lead a lesson in the local language.
This was another great experience in one of the best summers of my life. I love Albania. If you’d like to learn more about Kampi Pa Emer and donate money to make next year’s camp a success, please check out the Facebook page. Also, check out this amazing slideshow video another volunteer made. It really is quite powerful.