Camp GLOW is over!!! Technically. I taught my last English class and Girls Leadership Class of the summer on the 5th! The next day I headed into Siem Reap to begin prepping for the camp. Over the next two days we made to do lists galore, the boys (Kurt and Travis) went shopping, the health educators (Theary and Somary) arrived, we had a meeting with everyone (Synoeun and Chenda the facilitators too), and we tried to sleep.
Then on Thursday, the 8th, the girls arrived. It was a crazy crazy day. I didn’t know where I was going, the health educators didn’t know where the building was yet, Kurt and Travis had to go buy things, girls had to put their stuff in a room since they arrived too early for check-in. Running around trying to make sure no one was lost on the first day. And then things really started. We did ground rules, get to know each other, general beginning a camp stuff. Then Theary and Somary took over for a couple hours for some women’s health education lessons. Some health topics that were covered over the four days were menstruation, a woman’s body, STIs, birth control methods, and power and relationships. The first day was long and hard for everyone. We didn’t quite get enough snacks so everyone was hungry too, but it was ok because the market was so close. A lot of my girls bought enough snacks to give them cavities in all their teeth.
The next day we really hit our stride. The schedule was a great balance of work and ‘play’. A lot of trust building activities, leadership activities, and health sessions mixed together with snack breaks and meals. The energy sustained itself the whole day and I mean the whole day. I was getting up at 5:30am to run exercise sessions at 6 and we didn’t finish until 8 or 9 at night. Then after the sessions were done we had a staff meeting to help improve the next day. Definitely the longest workdays I’ve had in a long time. It must have been so tough for the health educators and facilitators that had to run the sessions, but they seemed to really love the positive feedback they were getting from all the girls. The hardest part for me was just trying to be alert and aware at all times. I needed to sort of monitor everyone to see who needed help, prepare for the future, relay the educators/facilitators needs to Kurt and Travis and the other way around, keep track of how the girls were doing, make sure we didn’t lose anyone because they decided to stop and trade SIM cards in the middle of the night.
We started working on “how to do community health education” on Saturday. The girls were all super enthusiastic about going back to teach what they learned. SUPER enthusiastic. My girls wanted to go back and have a meeting on Monday and then teach in 8 days. Which is almost impossible for even me to pull off. But, their eagerness is a really great sign that they value what they learned and that they think it’s important for others to learn it too.
Sunday was a bit rushed. The girls needed more time to prepare for presentations and then their presentations went overtime. This is all sort of expected considering it’s the first time a lot of them are teaching. Then we had lunch and the closing ceremony. Certificates were given out and lots of pictures were taken. Then it was a mad dash to the guesthouse to pack and organize all the girls and jump in the van and then head back to town. We got back around 4 and I unpacked and slept for a long long time. The next day we had our first planning meeting and set up our plan for September. I managed to convince them to wait until the end of October. Then the next day I left to go to training in Takeo.
Now, I’m in the guesthouse in Takeo after a day of talking about funerals and weddings and practicing khmer dances. I actual improved my dance technique a lot and learned a couple new ones. Come wedding season this year I will be fully prepared.