Youth Fun Day

San Ignacio Travel Blog

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Mon 24 Nov 2008

About 12 hours of prepping for Fun Day

 

Tues 25 Nov 2008

Nick arrived at around 7:30PM. Basically all day I prepared for Fun Day.

 

Wed 26 Nov 2008

More Fun Day prep. My second new volunteer meeting: no one shows up.

 

Thurs 27 Nov 2008

Took Nick on a quick tour of San Ignacio. More prep for Fun Day. 3rd new volunteer meeting: 2 attendees. Team leader meeting: everyone is enthusiastic and impressed with my organization. Set-up meeting rescheduled for Fri.

 

Thanksgiving dinner at Erva’s. All they have is the Thanksgiving meal. So Nick and I had a piece of home: turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, mystery food that may have been corn bread, and pumpkin pie. Very salty frozen margarita. Promised to see Guillermo one last time.

 

Fri 28 Nov 2008

Caring for Children Media Launch �" All the Cornerstone staff and volunteers went to Belize City today to listen to speeches. There was a really good turnout for schools. The room was even too small for all of us. Speeches were mostly about HIV/AIDS and also included children rights. A group of us volunteers walked down a street in Belize City �" the best view I’ve had of it so far during daylight hours. We served snacks and drinks to the kids, then ate a traditional Belizean meal for ourselves.

Guess what I did when I got back �" more prep for Fun Day!

 

Sat 29 Nov 2008

Youth for the Future Fun Day �" My day began at around 6AM when I woke up before my alarm. I used the extra time, preparing for park set-up and getting some final things in order. This was the big day. By the end of this week I would have put in about 60 hours of volunteering. I hoped that they day would be successful.

 

Kyle came early to help carry supplies to the park next door. An unexpected surprise came when Danis, a YAP member, showed up to volunteer. Yay! More help! With the tent not arriving on time, we just set up a couple tables under some shade. Fun Day was scheduled to begin at 9:30AM, with games beginning at 10AM (taking Belizean time into consideration). Again, another surprise. The majority of the kids who came, actually arrived early. Thanks O.P. Martin! At first there was only one girl. She seemed to hold her own well. Then, Kyle told us that she is the team captain for her ultimate Frisbee team. I felt some pride for my own gender. Girl power! (I also was one that lone girl playing with the boys at that age.) Neways though, a bunch of girls eventually did show up.

 

About 500 students from Standard 5 & 6 and 1st and 2nd form (the equivalent to 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grades in the US) from area schools were invited. I knew beforehand that the outlook wasn’t that good. The information was sent out too late to the principals. One school didn’t even get it until Thursday. Eden is an Adventist school, so they don’t condone non-religious events on the weekends. They quickly cut out 2 of 9 of the schools. Another problem was that it was the last weekend of the month. I had asked for teacher volunteers, but later found out that because of the half day on the last Friday of the month and teacher’s getting their paycheck then, that they usually aren’t around on those weekends. Too bad I didn’t know this information earlier. The principals told me they would make announcements over the P.A. or tell the teachers to pass onto the kids. However, they stressed that the responsibility was in the parent’s hands. They are the ones that decide if they can go. For some students, the walk to the park was too far and they didn’t have adequate transportation. St. Andrew’s principal is very kind and I visited her personally since the school is across the street. Unfortunately, she had stashed the Fun Day flyers under some other papers and forgot about them. I know that the success and failure of an event can depend tremendously on the P.R. done beforehand. However, with poor communication (us volunteers have found this to be a big problem in Belize) and the lack of time, I didn’t have much to work with. It was difficult to know how many kids would show up on event day, so I had to prepare for 500 kids.

 

About 35 kids participated in Fun Day. All but one were from O.P. Martin. I had convinced myself that more kids from St. Andrew’s would show up since they were so close and Cornerstone has such a good relationship with the school, but I was wrong. Yet, despite the low turnout, the event was a success.

 

I was very happy with all the volunteers that came to help. We had 13 volunteers from Cornerstone, 3 from ProBelize and 2 from YAP. I had more than enough help.

 

As I had been prepared for, the day was based on a lot of improvisation. All the team leaders and tent aids had volunteer packets, but they may as well have thrown them out the window. Well, better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

 

Since I had based games on teams of 15, which would be split into smaller groups of 3-5, figuring out teams was easy. We started off on schedule, with the Rip-Off tag game. The kids were split into a red team and yellow team. Each kid had a strip of duct tape on their back and they had to try to strip it off members of the other team. In the midst of getting the Rip-Off game set-up, we had our first bit of drama. Some guy had brought a small motorized car to the park and was giving out free rides. So a dozen boys had run off to the other side of the park, vying for a free ride. Elliot went to talk to him and he said he’d only give one more ride. Then a couple more kids took rides. I was getting really aggravated. Apparently this guy had no respect for us and half of the red team was distracted. Then, Jodine put her foot down and all the kids came running back our way. Yay Jodine!

 

Once the game got started, the kids definitely had a lot of fun. At one point, some of them started climbing up a tree and trying to catch each other. Hilarious, but a bit too dangerous to allow, so we quickly made them come down.

 

The next game was the human obstacle course. This is when getting the kids organized was exceptionally tricky. My obstacle course had been carefully and meticulously planned out, but it just couldn’t be followed. The kids had a hard enough time keeping still. Tanya and Molly were a tremendous help. Molly put down cones and had each kid stand my a cone. Each kid became one of three obstacles: one to run around, one to jump over, or one to crawl under.  The course was just a straight line and as straight-forward as possible. Even then, it was difficult for the kids to be patient, immovable obstacles while each had their turn trying the course out.

 

Lunch had been scheduled following these two games. However, I shouldn’t have been surprised that it didn’t arrive on time. The kids had a water break even though we didn’t even have water for them yet. A 10AM someone went to pick up water and lunch and they didn’t return until after noon. So one of the guys had to fetch Cornerstone’s water before all the kids got dehydrated.

 

After a long break, and just as we were about to begin another game, lunch arrived. Kids were given water, juice, a half of a lunchmeat sandwich and a banana. How that could sustain a kid for a full day of running around I had no idea. I was amazed that this was “lunch” (what usually is the largest meal of the day). I didn’t blame some of the boys for swiping extra sandwiches.

 

After lunch, I divided the kids of into four teams. They each wore their designated bracelet to keep track of the teams. I didn’t bother having them make up team names or using the posters I had painted. Since a bunch of the boys had just gotten through playing a pick-up soccer game, I decided to keep with the theme. We moved onto �" Soccer tic �" tac �"toe. I thought the kids were too riled up to play the Word Scramble game and quickly realized how it wouldn’t fare well as an outdoor game.

 

With the four teams, we played with only two game boards. (I had created 5.)  This game I adapted from one of my favorite soccer drills in grade school. We had played tic �" tac �" toe against a baseball fence. For this game I created actual 5ft x 5ft tic - tac �" toe boards with sheets and duct tape and we taped them to a concrete wall. For each board I had cut enough strips of tape to form 6 yellow O’s and 6 red X’s. To save time, we just used one strip of tape to mark the X’s and O’s.

 

I played the role of Vanna White for one of the games. The kids were less skilled than I thought they would be �" even the boys. They were only about 15 feet away, but had a really difficult time hitting the top row. After some time, they did mark up the top, but my first two games were CAT. After a few games, Kyle backed his kids up and had them hit the targets by throwing the ball. It gave a different twist and entertained the kids for a bit longer. When I noticed some of the girls circle up and stop playing, I decided it was time for a game change.

 

“What next?” the volunteers all turned to me and asked. I thought of the games I had left. We were ahead of schedule. I didn’t think the Scramble Game would work out, and with the confusion of the obstacle course, I knew the minefield game would have been way too confusing. We sent the kids on another water break and I decided to go for the chariot races.

 

I definitely wasn’t prepared for how funny this was going to be. At first, the kids didn’t really know what to do. They seemed to not have done anything like this before. I explained to them how they should have one kid sit on a tic �" tac �" toe sheet and then two other kids pull them with the sheet corners. By this time, a lot of them had lost their bracelets. After every game it seemed that we lost a bunch of kids even though it appeared that they were enjoying the games. I kept reminding them of the water fight at the end of the day so they had something even better to look forward to. Since at this point, teams were no longer of equal size, I decided to throw out the idea of awarding each team an extra water balloon for each win. For the chariot races, they teamed up in their own threesomes and went for a spin. Every time around at least 1 of the 4 teams lost their chariot rider. He or she would continue dragging holding onto the end of the sheet for dear life, or go rolling in the grass. They’d quickly try to recover and finish off the race. Some kids were so small that they knotted themselves up in the sheet and made it into a cocoon. It was so funny just seeing their head appear from out of the sheet.

 

The kids seemed to be having a blast, but every once in a while a few would run off and become disinterested. Before we lost even more, I decided to cut to the chase and get on with the water fight. I discussed with the volunteers what would be the best way to go about the ordeal. I decided it should just be a free for all. We divided the balloons up into about 6 containers around a circle and each had a volunteer heavily guarding it. The kids were told to go into the center of the circle (some listened, some just hovered over the balloon bins) and on my whistle, it was every person for him/herself. The volunteers all joined in and we got soaking wet. It had taken us hours to fill up the balloons and a matter of minutes for them all to pop.

 

The kids were pretty good with the clean-up process. I wasn’t surprised �" they are in fact, Belizean kids. A few of the boys just stood around and laughed when I gave them a garbage bag, but besides that clean-up with pretty quick and painless.

 

I decided to cut the day a couple hours short for several reasons. The finale was the awards ceremony. Unfortunately, Alissa had gone back to Cornerstone and took with her the movie ticket participation prizes that I told her to “guard with her life.” So it took a bit to track her down. O.P. Martin was awarded a plaque for their participation. Only thing though, is that they’re receiving a third place plaque. Since they were pretty much the only school to show up, Carmita and Marecia wanted to use the 1st and 2nd place plaques for the AIDS debate next week. Kinda screwed up, but there wasn’t much I could say and the plaques couldn’t be altered in any way. On top of that, the plaques weren’t even finished yet and needed another layer of coating! Incredulous!

 

We took some group photos and I handed out the movie tickets and that pretty much concluded Fun Day. If there were kids sticking around, I would have stayed for more games, but I was pretty much ready to set them loose. It was 2:30, just two hours short of when I had intended to call it quits. The volunteers thought the day was a success. The kids seemed to have a lot of fun. I hope my extra supplies can be put to good use for a similar fun day or other activities.

 

What I wanted more than anything else after the event was a dip in the pool. Fortunately, Tanya and Bethany had the same idea. We went to the San Ignacio Resort pool and basked in the sun until it sunk into the horizon. It was perfect just hanging out with the girls, shooting the shit and relaxing.

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San Ignacio
photo by: Biedjee