June 6, 2014
June 6th
Student-Athlete Development: Dominican Republic Blog

This class focuses on service learning, a learning strategy in which students have leadership roles in thoughtfully organized service experiences that meet real needs in the community. Today Christian, Jack, TJ and myself took a lead role; we were in charge of camp this afternoon. The four of us spent the past days preparing our ideas and brushing up on our Spanish in order to accomplish our goal. Our goal is to be a positive influence on the children of Veron and show them that sports can lead to a happy lifestyle.

Along with service learning experience, I also learned the difference between being a leader and a supporter. I quickly realized that leading a camp with 50 children comes with more responsibility and stress then a supporting role. I am the type of person that likes for everything to be planned and organized, but that is not exactly how today went. Fortunately the other leaders and my classmates were there to help me notice that the kids were having a great time regardless. And that is why we are all here- to make sure the kids are getting the most out of us.

Today’s camp theme was beach day. You can only imagine the looks on the children’s faces when we announced “vamos a la playa!” (We’re going to the beach!). Growing up in Veron, many of the kids at the camp aren’t able to go to the beach because the closest beaches are for resorts only. When the children arrived, 25 minutes early, probably out of excitement for the afternoon to come, we greeted them like we have the past two days and headed to the beach together. A quick, and very giddy, walk down the road, and the water relay races kicked off the beach activities. Soon everyone was playing in the Caribbean blue water. With baseball and volleyball both taking place on the sand, every kid was playing a game that they loved! A short ice-breaker in a beautiful pavilion on the beach and a few games of tug-of-war ended the day. Our class wished the camp was longer than three hours because we could have spent all day swimming with the children.

Back at the Foundation, movie night was waiting for us! In the classroom, The Price of Sugar, a documentary, was set up for us to learn about the bateys in the Dominican Republic. A batey is where the sugar cane workers live with their families. Unfortunately these areas are some of the poorest in the world. The video was a great prerequisite for our trip to El Seibo on Monday to visit a batey.

Everyone is really looking forward to the next two days because camp will be from 9am-4pm over the weekend. The DPV guys will have a chance to teach lessons on HIV/AIDS and we well get to spend tons of time with the kids!

Katie Bean

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