GLOW Camp | Vajzat Drejtojne Boten

During the last week of June, Kate and I held the first ever summer day camp for girls in our site. Girls Leading Our World “GLOW” summer day camps are a new Peace Corps Albania initiative that is being piloted this summer at eleven different sites. Official camps are being held in Delvine, Durres, Gjirokaster, Kavaje, Leskovik, Lushnje, Orikum, Patos, Permet, Peshkopi, and Vau i Dejes. At these day camps the girls discuss different topics such as gender, self-esteem, body image, leadership, empowerment, health education, volunteerism, and much more! The girls also get to play sports, get creative with crafts, and have FUN! Our camp focused on working with girls in the high school. We had around 8-10 participants per day and most girls attended consistently during the entire week. This was our camp schedule that was based off of a 50+ page manual that I compiled together as a starter-kit for new volunteers hosting GLOW camps in their communities:

Monday June 23rd

  • Orientation
  • Yoga
  • Team building games
  • Self-esteem
  • Friendship bracelets
  • Painting picture frames

Tuesday June 24th

  • Yoga
  • Public Speaking
  • What is Beauty?
  • Blogilates – POP Pilates
  • Stereotypes
  • Vision Board Collages

Wednesday June 25th

Thursday June 26th

  • Partner Yoga
  • Managing Stress
  • Gender
  • Hula-hooping
  • Recycled picture frames

Friday June 27th

  • Excursion to the swimming pool

GLOW camp was the best thing that I have done with my service thus far within my own community. The camp was extremely enjoyable and educational for the girls (and me too)! The girls told us that this was one of the best weeks of their lives. We were able to have many deep discussions regarding important topics that are often considered turpshem (shameful) in Albanian society. It was amazing to hear how insightful these girls are regarding significant issues towards women in today’s society. Seeing the world through their lenses of being a young female in a conservative Muslim city was extremely interesting. Everyday there was something special about the camp. One highlight was during a discussion on stereotypes one student said, “Just because I am a girl does not mean I am your property.” Another girl told me, “I didn’t realize I was a creative person until you gave me the opportunity.” Teaching yoga classes was also really rewarding. It was a nice intro into the yoga class that I’ll begin teaching this summer and this next year. The sex education class was also another highlight for me. During this past year I have tried to convince my Albanian counterparts of the importance of giving sex education classes in the schools, but it has been a topic that we have yet to cover (even when it came up on the national health calendar provided by the Institute of Public Health). It was nice to have an open conversation with the girls about STDs, contraception, and making positive choices about when to engage in sexual activity. We even did a condom demonstration, which was the first time many of the girls had even seen a condom in person. I would like to continue to give more lessons like this throughout the next year of my service. Overall the week was an amazing experience and I finally felt like I was doing something meaningful (that I could visibly experience) for the girls and for my community. Seeing their smiles and excitement everyday made it all worth it.

Thanks again to everyone that helped donate materials, money, and supplies to this camp. I couldn’t have done it without your support. It was an extremely special and worthwhile experience for everyone involved. Special shout out to Lane and her family, my grandmother and aunt, Shawna, Vicki, my dad, my step-dad, and especially my mom. You are the best mom. I love you so much and we really appreciate all of your help.

The camp motto

Our camp motto was: “I am powerful and beautiful. I can change my life. I can change the world.”

The human knot team-building game.

The human knot team-building game.

Making self-esteem flowers.

Making self-esteem flowers.

Painting our picture grames

Painting our picture frames

Thanks everyone! We love our beautiful hand-painted frames.

Thanks everyone! We love our beautiful hand-painted frames.

Susan, another PCV, came to give a guest lesson on beauty.

Susan, another PCV, came to give a guest lesson on beauty.

Helping position some of the girls during yoga class.

Helping position some of the girls during yoga class.

Our beautiful vision boards.

Our beautiful vision boards.

Sexual education is important!

Sexual education is important!

Talking about different forms of contraception.

Talking about different forms of contraception.

An anti-trafficking NGO from Tirana came and gave a special presentation.

An anti-trafficking NGO from Tirana came and gave a special presentation.

The whole group

The whole group

Partner yoga.

Partner yoga.

Showing examples of gender in our society.

Showing examples of gender in our society.

Getting creative with recycled picture frames!

Getting creative with recycled picture frames!

Hula-hooping!

Hula-hooping!

One of my special students. I consider her to be one of my best friends in Albania.

One of my special students. I consider her to be one of my best friends in Albania.

 

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Summer Camp Supplies Wish List

This summer I am planning to hold 3 separate summer camps. I am the Peace Corps Albania camp coordinator for the Outdoor Ambassadors committee, which means I will be in charge of planning the national Outdoor Ambassadors camp. The Outdoor Ambassadors camp will bring around 50-60 students across Albania together for a 5-day leadership camp. We will be implementing different activities and lessons regarding environmentalism, health and nutrition, recycling, leadership, and other fun activities. The camp will be an overnight camp and students will have the opportunity to learn, as well as the opportunity to network with other students across the country. We will be doing arts, crafts, sports, and all the fun activities you’d normally think of for summer camp. As of now, it looks like the Outdoor Ambassadors camp will be held in late August.

I am also implementing a GLOW: Girls Leading Our World camp in my site with my site-mate and our Albanian counterpart. We may also hold another GLOW day camp in a village just outside of our site. The GLOW day camp bring together local under served girls in our community and give them an opportunity to participate in activities that are normally not available to females. Each GLOW community day camp will have around 20-30 participants and will be held for around 3-5 days. The GLOW camps will focus on female empowerment, life skills, body image, leadership, healthy relationships, and teamwork. The GLOW day camps are not funded, so I am trying to collect supplies for activities with the girls. The GLOW camps will likely be held in late June and early July. After the day camps, the girls will have an opportunity to attend a national GLOW conference/camp to meet other like minded females from across the country. Some items that we could use for camp are:

  • Soccer balls
  • Basketballs
  • Frisbees
  • Volleyballs
  • Sidewalk chalk
  • String/yarn to make friendship bracelets
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Sharpies in all colors
  • Tie-dye kits
  • Magazines
  • Plastic beads for animal keychains
  • Metal rings for keychains
  • Finger nail polish to do our nails
  • Paint
  • Bottle caps (metal and plastic)
  • Plain white t-shirts or bandanas

You can check out my camp pinterest board and my glow pinterest board to get a better idea of the kinds of crafts/activities I am planning to implement. Of course we can run the camps without these supplies, but your help/donations would be greatly appreciated by me and the girls! If you are interested in sending supplies you can find more information on how to contact me under the “Contact Me” section on the left hand column of my blog.

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