Tag Archives: Bible Camp

A Challenging Read – Guardian Article about “Voluntourism”

18 Jan

This article by the Guardian in 2018 hit me hard – challenging me to reflect on Campamento.

  • Are we – travelers, supporters, and I – “sustain[ing] practices and institutions that actually do harm“?
  • Is Campamento “about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege“?
  • “Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asunción” sounds horrific and is now closed. This was a Catholic institution. Could this happen to our Hogar? Is our Hogar like the more humane but “chaotic, impersonal and lacking stimulation” Hogar?
  • How about this description the reporter gave of her feelings after a summer of working at a home for boys in Detroit?

“I now understand that I did leave Rodrick with something: a sense of abandonment. Every single boy in that institution already had abandonment issues. If it was hard for me to leave these boys behind, how much harder was it for them to see me go? And the next adult who came for a few weeks? And the next one? They might have learned that there are people who love them and will take them on walks. But they also learned that these people always leave.

  • Is our Hogar spending “not much money […] on its most vulnerable, disabled residents, while a lot of investment has gone towards making the volunteer experience as comfortable as possible“?

On my first read of this article, I was reading it defensively – thinking “That’s not what we do.” “Our Hogar is not like that.” Then, I read it again with a more open mind.

Update 2022 – another article outlining two sides of voluntourism. https://www.worldvision.ca/stories/voluntourism-the-good-and-the-bad Their suggestion to teach local English teachers is interesting!

Here are my thoughts. I’d love to hear yours.

Are we sustaining practices that actually do harm? The reality is we aren’t sustaining anything. The home does not exist to host Campamento. Campamento is a small, optional part of a comprehensive program that is the Hogar. The Sisters provide the foundation of the Hogar. Campamento (I hope) merely enhances the program that they design and run.

As for doing harm – I’ve seen the opposite. Many girls thrive at the family-like setting at the Hogar. (For those who don’t like it for whatever reason, they can return to their homes.) They get basics like safety, a home, food, school, tutoring (many of their parents are illiterate), values, self-esteem, chores, affection, and support from each other.

An old practice, not used any more, was to invite girls to camp before joining the Hogar, to see if she’d like it. One year a new girl came and she had a very tough exterior, was very skeptical of camp (pretty reasonable from a kid who’s never seen anything like the Hogar or experienced anything like camp.) She stuck with it though. Two days later, another new girl joined. The next girl’s response was to cry all day. I’ll never forget what girl #1, with her 2 days off experience told girl #2 “This place is not that bad. The women here are nice and they feed you three times a day.” Girl #2 wiped away her tears, then joined the game going on. Both girls thrived for a while at the home. Neither stayed through graduation.

The education piece is major, even if a girl leaves before graduation, she receives a much better education than she would have otherwise. Many continue their education, even after leaving the home. But it is harder without the support they get at the Hogar.

By “enhancing”, we run a 2 week summer camp with: Bible study themed “Women of Faith”, educational enrichment focusing on math and English, as well as crafts, games, songs, skits, and free time. Our focus is on self-confidence and self-esteem. Many well-off families send their kids to similar camps over the summer. We also work with the director of the hogar on the curriculum to make sure we’re a positive influence at the home.

Over the last 19 years, we’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the Sisters, the girls, and even the community. Here’s my two favorite: A new driver joined the home. At the end of camp, when he was bringing us back to the airport, he said “Many groups come to visit the girls, bringing donations or holding a party. I’ve only seen the girls cry when you leave.” The other is when Sister Fifi took the reins as director of the hogar soon after camp the previous year. She said that she was looking forward to camp and can’t believe it’s finally here. I asked her why, because summer is usually a break for her and camp is a ton of work for her! She said “Since I joined, all I heard was ‘at camp we do this, at camp we do that. The girls talk about camp all year long.” At the end of camp, she told us that she now knows why!

I hope each traveler gets a deep spiritual and personal experience at camp, as well as fun!

2019 Theme Song – Time to Vote

18 Apr

Each year we have an uplifting pop theme song for camp.

And 2019 will be no different. Here are your top suggestions for songs this year.
Slow, upbeat, uplifting songs work the best. Out of the past songs, it’s hard to choose a favorite, but one is “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars . We translate the lyrics so the girls can read the uplifting message. It’s a fun way to teach English.
As well as the theme song, we bring down CD(s) of fun/popular songs from the last few years. It will include the runners up from this list. If you have suggestions for that, put them in the comments here.

Vote by commenting on this post!

Suggested Songs for Campamento 2019:

Look Up Child by Lauren Daigle Did you love Lauren on American Idol 2019? Did you know she auditioned and was rejected as a contestant?

Unfinished by Mandisa She was amazing on American Idol, too! She finished 9th in the fifth season. Who won that season?
Brand New Eyes by Bea Miller from Wonder Such a great movie 

Hopefully we can bring DVDs down for “Movie Nights”. Look for DVDs or Bluerays with Spanish audio.

2018 Take the World by Storm by Lukas Graham2017 Everything from Zootopia/ Try Everything Spanish by Shakira

2016 By the Grace of God by Katie Perry

2015 “I’m Good” by The Mowgli’s

2014 “Happy” by Pharrell Williams

2013 “Gold” by Britt Nicole

2012 “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars

2011 “Firework” Katie Perry

2010 “When I look at You” Myley Cyrus

2009 “The Climb” Myley Cyrus

2008 “Dream Big” by Ryan Shupe and the Rubberbands

2007 “Beautiful” Christina Aguilara

2006 “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield

2005 “Breakaway” Kelly Clarkson

2004 (we were just getting started… We didn’t have anything😦 )

2002 My Heart will Go On Theme from the Titanic Celine Dion (this was an accidental success as was the whole first trip)


8 May

Wow, we have a full trip consisting of 10 travelers per week. What a blessing. The last post covered nuts and bolts of preparing for the trip. This is more about emotional preparation.

A lot of these trips (and vacations, OK I’ll be philosophical – life) are perceptions. At first I couldn’t help judging “This chicken meat is much richer than we have at home.” or “Sad – she grew up in a home with dirt floors and no windows”. Now I’m trying to observe, not comparing, not judging. It’s really hard and I’m not very good at it, but I believe it’s valuable.

Another aspect of judging and comparing is comparing this experience with the trip as you imagined it or with a past mission trip or vacation.

This is an enlightening piece I happened to hear on the radio before going to bed one night. A former Peace Corps volunteer was featured in a 5 minute segment on “The Story” on MPR. I thought what she read applied so well for our trip, especially for first time travelers. Being able to adjust your expectations is a key to enjoying and contributing to your trip. I e-mailed her and she sent me the text that she read, then also the excerpt from the Peace Corp Volunteer Manual that inspired her revelation.

From the volunteer’s letter on expectations….

“When faced with new situations, we create expectations of what we think might happens in order to manage the nervous feelings we have regarding the unknown.  These expectations help ease our anxiety before, (not that I personally was anxious… J), but as we actually arrive in the new situations, we must be able to separate what we thought would happen, to what actually is going on. If we don’t, we can get disappointed-not necessarily because we don’t like what is happening-but simply because it is different than we expected.  When this happens our next move must be to suppress any disappointment that we have felt, and see if the new situation can still be fulfilling/satisfying to us.” 

“This Isn’t What I Expected.”

(From A Few Minor Adjustments: A Handbook for Volunteers*)

….a brief word about expectations.  All Volunteers have them—and many are undone by them.  Expectations are normal and inevitable; they are our way of dealing with the unknown, which is inherently unsettling.

Indeed, they are our way of making the unknown into the known (albeit with the help of smoke and mirrors) and thereby eliminating our anxiety.  We naturally wonder about our Peace Corps experience-about the country, the job, the people-and whether we’re up to it.  We get all the information we can and begin to create an image of what it may be like.  The more we start to believe it it-until we forget altogether that this is only our notion of how things might be and become convinced that this in fact how things are.

All of which is immensely reassuring.  Now that we “know” how things are, we imagine ourselves in these circumstances and realize that we can cope (or that we can’t, at which point we do not pursue Peace Corps service any further).  From this point on, we no longer expect our Peace Corps experience to be a certain way, we depend on its being that way.  In short, this is no longer a vision of what our experience might be like; it’s a vision of what it had better be like.

Small wonder, then, that when we encounter the reality and it turns out not to be what we had imagined, we are deeply shaken.  Not so much because we don’t like what we find-in fact, we can barely see it-but because we don’t find what we expected.  Feeling anxious, threatened, and disappointed, we can’t really examine the situation we find for what it is.  Rather, we tend to reject it out of hand for what it is not.

This reaction may be natural enough under the circumstances, but we need to get beyond it.  We owe it to ourselves-and to Peace Corps and most especially the host country-to suppress our disappointment for a moment and consider whether the experience it now appears we’re going to have in this country and this job, different as it may be from what we expected, could still be satisfying and fulfilling.  If we can still make a contribution under these admittedly unforeseen conditions, does it really matter that much that we’ve been taken by surprise?

It’s quite true, of course, that our new circumstances—even when examined in tranquility—will still not be what we want.  But it’s always better to have rejected upon reflection rather than on impulse.

*Published by the Office of Special Services, Peace Corps, November 1991.

Campamento Prayers

6 Mar

One Spanish Goal of yours could be to learn the prayers they say at Campamento. They are of course in Spanish. At least learn the English versions!!

Prayers in Spanish with English translation

Mealtime Prayer
Senor, te damos gracias por el pan que nos has dado
Daselo a todos aquellos que no lo tienen
Bendice las manos que lo han preparado
Por Jesu Cristo, Nuestro Senor

And in English…
Lord, we give you thanks for the bread that you have given us.
Give it to all those who do not have it.
Bless the hands that have prepared it.
In Jesus Christ, our Lord,

Lord’s Prayer
Padre Nuestro
Padre nuestro que estás en el cielo
Santificado sea tu Nombre
Venga a nosotros tu reino
Hágase tu voluntad
En la tierra como en el cielo
Danos hoy nuestro pan de cada día
Y perdona nuestras ofensas
Como también nosotros perdonamos a los que nos ofenden
No nos dejes caer en la tentación
Y líbranos del mal.

Sign of the Cross

En el Nombre del Padre, del Hijo, y del Espiritu Santo, Amen.

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Kickoff Meeting Report – Trip Update

7 Feb

So far we are right on target with many potential travelers. We also have many past travelers and future travelers who are helping out this year! I believe all the people willing to help is a very meaningful statement to potential travelers as well as all parishioners.If you are interested in joining us, please contact me.

The next step is to decide whether you can go, and when. The three potential weeks are July 7-15, July 14-22, and/or July 21-29. It’ll be two contiguous weeks. Please let me know if/when you’ve decided and which week(s) would work for you.

Here we are at the beach (playa)!





First Campamento 2012 Meeting

15 Jan

Sister Parish Mission Trip Kick-Off Meeting Monday, February 6, 7-9 PM Auditorium

The Sister Parish Committee is planning our tenth two-week long “Summer Camp” at the Hogar Teresa Toda, a girls’ home, in Azua, Dominican Republic in July 2012. We have openings from July 14 through July 22, and July 21 through July 27 for travelers interested in sharing a spiritual experience with young women and girls from another country. The format is similar to our own Vacation Bible School. We do skits, music, crafts, and other activities. We pray, exchange stories, share love, and spend time with the girls. Through the activities they learn English, enjoy crafts, and build self-esteem. Each trip is deeply touching and spiritual. Special gifts you may share are Spanish skills, crafting and beading talents, or your professional experience (esp. healthcare, tourism, retail, scientists, government, education, and other industries). At this time, the dates are subject to change. If you are interested in traveling with us this summer or helping out from Minnesota, please contact Ann McGuire, the moderator of this blog.

Note on this picture: Whenever we bring out the pucas (beads) I think of traveler “Laura”. Laura is an avid beader and loved to share her passion. Before Laura came to Campamento, one of our signature sounds was the sound of beads spilling from the table onto the floor. When Laura joined us, she unpacked the vast collection of beads she brought but made us all wait on the beads until we gathered towels. She put the towels on the tables so that the beads wouldn’t spill. This genius move has virtually eliminated that sound and mess of spilling beads for Campamento!

Please share this post if you know another person who might be interested. Everyone has gifts to share!