Aptly named “Mayaro Youth – Children Aiming to Maximise Potential”, and fondly referred to by the acronym “MY CAMP”, the vacation project kicked off on Monday to the delight of the children who turned out in their numbers to complete their registration and start the camp on the same day.
As an eager nine-year-old Valeena Maharaj of Mafeking Government Primary School, put it “I came here to have fun and make friends and enjoy all the exciting activities that they have planned for us. I’m really happy I got the chance to be here and I know that MY CAMP will be great!”
Sponsored by BP Trinidad and Tobago, the camp caters to students between the ages of five and 13, and offers sports, music, dance, arts and craft, lectures, remedial learning and field trips in an active learning programme designed to entertain the young students while reinforcing education.
Ronda Francis, Corporate Responsibility Manager, bpTT, outlined the concept behind the camp: “In terms of bpTT’s annual vacation camps hosted at the MRC, we utilise innovative techniques in a fun and dynamic environment that challenges the children to learn and develop. The students who participate go back to school energised with knowledge and confidence from their experiences here. We also have the added benefit of tertiary level Brighter Prospects students filling the role of counsellors. This is an immersive learning experience that helps the young ones to explore and develop their full potential.”
MY CAMP is led by an experienced team of facilitators, headed by Kerneisha Prince-King, Manager of the bpTT Mayaro Resource Centre; Fanta Motuta (Camp Director), Principal of the Mayaro Guayaguayare Community School; and retired principal, Reynold Phillip, who fills the role of Camp Supervisor. They are supported by the staff of the Mayaro Resource Centre as well as additional safety personnel.
“At the first level of interaction, we make the kids safe and ensure that they are comfortable. The simple idea is that the kids have fun while learning, not just academically, but also about general interests and life skills. This year we are also trying to raise their awareness of the environment so they become custodians of Mayaro. When the kids leave here, they will be confident, knowledgeable, aware of their environment and ready to achieve,” Motuta explained.
The first day of the camp set the trend for the children who sang the camp song, met their counsellors and learned firsthand about fire safety from Eastern Emergency firefighters, Kevin Dieffenthaller and Trudy Bowrin. They also took the opportunity to practise an emergency evacuation of the building.
The campers later broke up in groups to partake in different activities such as learning about internet safety, computer literacy and basic animation. This session was conducted by Neesha Santoo, Information and Communications Technology Instructor, YTEPP Limited, who taught from the BG Trinidad and Tobago Mobile Computer Unit currently stationed at the MRC.
Ten-year-old Mykah Peters, of the Mayaro Guayaguayare Community School, was enthusiastic about his first day at camp, “We learnt so much and had a great time learning the camp song together. I really enjoyed all of the activities and I can’t wait to go home and share everything that we did. But what I really look forward to is coming back tomorrow and having even more fun at MY CAMP.”
The students are supervised and taught by over a dozen counsellors, comprising mainly students from bpTT’s Brighter Prospects initiative. This scholarship programme provides financial assistance to students from Mayaro who gain access to tertiary education at approved institutions, and in turn, are required to volunteer toward the development of their home community.
According to Bridget Hernandez, a final year student pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work at The University of the West Indies, “This is my second year as a counsellor at the vacation camp and it is a really rewarding experience to work with the kids and to see them learn and grow. It feels good to give back in terms of aiding the development of the future generations of my home community. This experience will also benefit me as a professional because one day I hope to work at the Children’s Authority. Overall, MY CAMP is a wonderful initiative and is yet another invaluable bpTT investment in the development of Mayaro.”