BRYTE CAMP: DAY 1
A semester of planning, two weeks of planning, and a week of training had gone by. Jesse and I were ready (we hoped) for BRYTE Camp 2012 to start. On Monday, we got up at six am to try to arrive at camp by 7:15. Because the previous Friday the building had closed at 3:30, our staff hadn’t had a chance to completely set up their classrooms! If we had our choice of arrival time, we probably would have arrived in the middle of the night and camped out to set up for the first day, but the custodial staff wasn’t arriving until 7:15, so we had to wait until then.
On our way to camp, we picked up the first batch of Federal Free Lunch for the summer. 53 breakfasts and lunches later, we arrived on site. Though tired, our staff was ready to rock. By 7:45, our staff was setting up their classrooms, and kids were starting to arrive! Before breakfast at 9, all the kids played in the gym. Because we weren’t yet split into groups, there was a mad dash for the cafeteria (labeled cafetorium) at 9. When 9:30 rolled around, Jesse and I were nervous but excited for our very first morning meeting. After enough “If you can hear my voice clap once/twice/three times,” and “hands on your heads means quiet!” we managed to bring camp onto the stage.
First, we did an all camp ice breaker. It’s hard to do an ice breaker with fifty kids, but we tried to have every camper say their name and do a dance move; I’d say about half the campers were brave enough to dance in front of the crowd. After the ice breaker, one of our full time counselors, Zack Rubin, led the camp in group stretches—they were a hit. And then, most importantly, we peeled the banana. “Peel Banana” is an epic energizer I learned at Brown’s Third Word Transitions Program, that consists of “peeling the banana, going bananas, peeling the avocado, guacamoleeing,” and more. After peeling the banana, we were ready to start the day. Not without a few rules though; with the help of The Learning Community, our three camp rules would be “We are safe. We are respectful. We are leaders.” We were ready.
To start every day at BRYTE Camp, we sing our camp song. During training, after a stressful day, Jesse, myself, and two of our staff, Maiki Paul and Asia Nelson, came up with the song. After a lot of discussion, here’s what we came up with:
B-R-Y-T-E, that’s the place that I wanna be!
“B-R-Y-T-E, Learning can be fun for me
“B-R-Y-T-E, Bulding our Community
“B-R-Y-T-E, come on friends sing along with me!
BRYTE Camp! (clap clap clap clap)
BRYTE Camp! (clap clap clap clap)
At first, especially given the English limitations, the song was hard to catch on to, but a few days into camp, and the campers were singing in the hallways and in their sleep. After our first morning meeting, we were ready to start the day. We announced literacy groups/homerooms, and the kids met their staff and headed upstairs for the first round of classes. By the end of the day, each literacy group had come up with a group name, complete with name tags, signs, and everything in between. It was going to be a great summer.
Through the chaos, Jesse and I did have a chance to observe some classrooms that first day. It was thrilling; REAL learning and REAL teaching was happening right before our eyes. The training was going to pay off. There would be bumps along the road, but things were really happening! On that first day, there were only a few behavior upsets.
After math and literacy class, we had lunch-it was crazy, but it happened. After lunch, we announced our first batch of afternoon workshops. On Monday afternoons, we would be having visual arts, split up by age, as well as sports and performing arts that would follow. For visual arts, most of the groups did paper mache with balloons; they made self portraits our of balloons and newspaper! For sports and performing arts, three groups did sports including basketball, soccer, and more, and one group did music.
I led a music workshop. I’d say out of everything that has happened at camp, music is the highlight. Evan, one of the full time staff, led the workshop with me. The first week, it was all girls except for Evan and one six year old boy. After much debate about subject matter and content of our lesson, we decided we would teach “Down in the River to Pray” to be performed at the end of camp. Evan was a little doubtful, but let me tell you—the kids were so into it.
After vocal and physical warm ups, we listened to some a cappella music, went over some definitions, and had a discussion about different genres of music. Then we got into our spiritual. By the end of the first session, the kids were singing the song by themselves and throughout the rest of the day.
After our closing meeting, singing the song, and some free time in the gym, the first day had finished. Five weeks and four more days of fun to come!! Swimming tomorrow!
Peace out and BRYTE Camp Love,