By Aaron Griffith, AmeriCorps Member, Serving at McDonough Elementary School
Ready for takeoff! From February 23 to 26, almost 150 Manchester students had the opportunity to spend their February vacation traveling around the world with Camp City Air. Hosted on the east side by Henry Wilson Elementary and on the west side by Parker Varney Elementary, Camp was a fun and engaging experience for students, as well as corps members as we had the opportunity to work with different students and be on a different team than our normal day-to-day service. Camp Directors Sherry Leung and Ben Kusserow led the site in the planning of camps, and were supported by their Recruitment, Operations, and Programming teams, as well as CYNH VISTAs, Anna Caron and Melissa Slanetz, and Impact Coach John Houlihan.
Through well-planned and engaging activities, students had the chance to learn about the people and cultures from places around the world. The first stop on Day 1 was South America, where students created water-bottle rainforests in Brazil, experimented with simple machines as used by the Incas in Peru, danced Colombia’s cumbia, and made Chilean rain sticks. Africa was the next stop on Day 2. Students used salt dough to make their names into Egyptian hieroglyphics, painted masks in the style of the Sakalava people’s face painting in Madagascar, played the Eritrean-originated game of mancala, and practiced their soccer skills while learning about Nigeria. The third day took the students to Asia, including completing a Great Wall of China relay race and playing badminton, decorating hands in traditional Indian henna, constructing salt rock formations as found in the Dead Sea near Jordan, and understanding the importance of clean water accessibility in Cambodia and building their own water filtration systems. On the last day, students travelled to Europe where they mastered cryptology as used by the British and Germans in World War II, engaged in the English game of croquet, fashioned popsicle-stick versions of France’s most famous tower, and assembled models of Iceland’s Land of Giants electricity system. Mixed into these days were brief stops to Antarctica and Australia where the camp directors engaged everyone in fun activities.
Camp City Air took months of planning from everyone on the leadership team, and their hard-work and dedication clearly showed from its smooth-running success and the enjoyment it brought to campers. On the last day, the campers didn't want to leave. One camper said "It's crazy how camp is only four days and we have to wait a whole year to come back!" From the early stages of applying for camp leadership, to recruiting at the schools, to developing lesson plans, to the in-kinding of international snacks for kids to enjoy, to serving as team leaders, everyone from CYNH played an important role in creating this fantastic, educational experience.