Thursday, June 2, 2011

Camp Jake update

Potential camp grounds in Montrois

Monday’s excursion led us out of PAP to Montrois to scout the area as a potential site for Camp Jake, the first summer camp for St. Vincent's orphaned students. Six team members piled into the van and headed out for the long drive from the urban jungle of Port-au-Prince into the countryside and along the coast.

When we arrived at our destination, we first explored the property on foot. We noted various buildings dotting the grounds: several dormitories, a small yellow chapel, the kitchen and dining area and small dwellings for the staff.There were several flat areas scattered between the buildings that might be well utilized for games, cookouts and other outdoor activities. But, as with much of Haiti there were also plenty of rough areas that might pose challenges for sight-impaired and non-ambulatory children.

The dining hall

The beach was rocky but lovely, the surf gently crashing on the small shore. Sea urchins, snails of every color and other oceanic life speckled the smooth stones. However, the dropoff to the beach was very steep causing concerned about accessibility for the children.

The coast of Haiti in Montrois

Kathy and Tom discussing the rocky drop off to the beach

During our time there, we had the opportunity to meet with Fr. Sadoni to discuss the details of the camp. Some of our shared goals include giving the children experiences they would not otherwise have during their summer months at St. Vincent’s such as swimming, various sports, jewelry making, manicures, watching movies, extended food choices, art and music.

Tom (left) outside one of the dormitories

While the seminary was indeed inviting, much work would need to be done in the two short months till the first camp before we could safely utilize the area. We felt the need to explore other options that might be more conducive to our vision for Camp Jake. Tom, camp director, began researching alternate locations to determine what was the best fit for these exceptional children.

We are thrilled to share that he has found the perfect spot for the first camp! It is approximately 1.5 hours away from St. Vincent’s—taking the children out of the city will be a treat in and of itself. The property is secure and boasts small cabins that sleep multiple children in each one. There is ample space for crafts and indoor activities as well as a pool, and tennis and volleyball courts where the children can explore and learn new sports.
(Where are the photos of this new area? Sadly, they are on Tom's lost phone somewhere in US customs.)

Our next step is to gather extensive information about each camper so that we can tailor our programming and volunteers to match their individual needs. We will be meeting with Fr. Sadoni today to get this vital information.

We will share more details as the camp unfolds for the summer of 2011 and look to you for financial support to make this a success.

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