Tuesday, June 24, 2014


"Budi hrabar" (or "Be brave") was the theme of our camp this year. The kids that come to camp are mostly from our social projects. This year we were joined by our sponsorship kids from Prijedor, so there were almost 100 of us at Bardaca (about an hour from Banja Luka). About 70 kids and 30 volunteers (including about 20 teenage volunteers). We were literally being brave just by having that many of us at the camp :). It was crazy, but fun!
Most of the kids were inside the buildings (and I was in one of the rooms to look after the kids), but most of the volunteers and a few of the older kids were in tents. And praise the Lord, it only rained the first night for a bit, and after that it was dry until the kids left!

So what do we do at camp? We sing: Rami and I leading the singing on the first day.
And our camp song was a translated version of "Be Bold Be Strong"! When I first heard of the theme the song immediately came to mind and if it was already in the local language I couldn't find it, so I did a little translation, and it really was a fun song for the kids! Here is it in our songbook:

Each night we have a "campfire" - the first night it was in our big tent as it was raining...
But the other nights it was outside, and we actually had a campfire!
At the campfire we do skits, games, and fun activities like "chubby bunny": (yes, that was an idea that came with me from my camping days... :) David and Emina showing how it is done... Emina won!
Every morning and afternoon it is time for a drama based on our theme (all from the story of Daniel in the bible): Here is King Nebuchadnezzar and his advisors deciding what to do with Daniel and his friends...  
After the drama, Sinisa was tasked with making it a little clearer and giving the children a better idea of how to apply it to their lives...  he does a really good job!
After the morning bible story we had workshops: Here is the art workshop making boats and beetles and other fun stuff out of paper mache:
 The dance workshop learning a Hip Hop routine with Ruut and Rebekka. 
Every day after lunch we also had organised games in groups - and you go from game to game in your group: Here I am leading a version of  "Have you ever...?" which I use as a getting to know you game in English class. The kids loved it...
And there was always some sort of water or balloon game as it was hot in the afternoons:
One afternoon Rami spent an hour filling up balloons for the kids to carry around - here is Nestor with his... it was of course great fun, until they burst!
There was free time - but always lot of things to do... including jumping on the trampoline or colouring or playing monopoly etc. Below is Timo from Germany doing his superman impression on the trampoline: He was here earlier in the year with a team and was invited back to join us for camp and it really was great having him!
As I already mentioned, I was privileged to be in a room to take care of some of the kids, and that is probably the part of camp I love the most. Being mom to those girls, pouring into their lives and just showing them that they are special... here I am with three of "my" girls: Milica and her twin sisters Tanja and Sanja.
There was also another set of twins in my room: Rebeka and Rahela (below with Ljilja). Their mom, Ljiljana, runs the sponsorship program in Prijedor, and all 10 of her kids were at camp this year (the last two years we have had 6 or 7 of the older kids, but because mom was coming the twins and their little brother Filip could come as well!). The older kids are a great help as volunteers, and all of the kids are as good looking as the twins...soooo cute! 

It wasn't all work and no play for us volunteers, we did manage to get away to walk around some of the Bardaca lake reserve. Here I am with Tanja and Gaga:
I don't have a picture of the craziest person on camp, which would be the cook - Ankica (one of the mothers). She cooked for all of us on one stove which when you put two plates on blew the fuse. And in this:  (Bojan was a great help to her in this regard!) and the food was WONDERFUL!!!
Other than having a sore throat after the first day of singing loudly (ok, and screaming at the kids from time to time!), and the fact that the mosquitoes were completely out of control, I had a great time at camp... I always say at the end, half of me can't wait to get home to my own bed, but the other half really wishes it could go on for longer!

Well done to Rami, Katja-Maaria and Ljilja and all the volunteers for organising a great camp. We are going to miss Rami and Katja-Maaria when they go back to Finland next month. Here's hoping they will be able to come and help with the camp next summer, I don't know how we would do it without you!!


Victor said...

Soo much fun, and so tiring, I know. I really wish I could have been there. Remind me again: Finnish volunteers speak Bosnian? Or do they use translators?

Belinda Chaplin said...

The only Finns this year were my colleagues who have been here 4 years and speak the language (in previous years we have had teams who didn't speak the language and they used translators - or just did dramas and things which didn't need language skills).

And yes it was tiring, but fun!

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