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September 19, 2011

“Every minute, every second, every step of the way!” I think of Camp Kayak and Carriacou. The Green Machine’s anthem is hard to get out of my head- it’s so catchy! “This is our team, the Green Machine!” The second session was all about team spirit and collaboration. Each color group had a team name, mascot, motto, and even song that the children themselves produced with Mr. Emi, aka “Afro Em.” Each group was rewarded either gold stars for team work, good attitude, helpfulness, effort, and creativity, or thunder clouds for the opposite.

In the end, the Maroon Maurauders stormed the Carnival stage and won the color competition. In their inspiration cards to each other, they wrote comments like “I wish you were my brother.” It was very touching to see such a strong sense of connectedness between the campers.

I feel lucky to have worked with so many gifted professionals and educators. Miss Erin, an enthusiastic biologist came all the way from Wyoming, straight from a job at Yellowstone National Park, to work with the children of Camp Kayak. She taught the children about conservation and used recycled materials and materials from nature to make art projects. The campers got to go on fun and informative hikes with Miss Erin and Miss Crystal, a Peace Corps worker also working in the area of conservation in Carriacou. It was fun to learn from the counselors, but the children were great teachers as well. Amanake found many birds’ nests and pointed out dangerous plants, ones I made a note to avoid!

Mr. John who recently was deployed in Afghanistan came and took charge as the fitness director. He was a drill sargent only in making sure the kids had fun, in addition to a good work out. Miss Michela’s therapeutic art projects drew in as many staff as children. Mr. Gabriel’s cyanotypes prints magically changed color to a deep ocean blue when exposed to the sun. Mr. Adrien came all the way from Paris to share his painting skills. He and the children sketched the landscapes outside, meditatively, getting back to the roots of teaching art- the natural world was always the original classroom.

Mr. Bongo kept the beat alive with the constant drumming. I was so impressed at the rhythms the children were able to create on one single drum. It was as if they had more than two hands! And Mr. Devon’s boat making class was one I participated in. Miss Michela and I carved out our own little boats for the regatta display, in the cool shade of the tamarind tree, as we laughed with the children about the imperfections of all of our boats that eventually made them so perfect.

My video and photography class collaborated with Mr. Emi’s music production class and Miss Samantha and Miss Nicketa’s dance class and made an amazing music video, “Bust a Tune!” We had so much fun making it- it really captures the spirit of Camp Kayak.

And somehow, I was able to bring back the ninjas from the first session play, “Once Upon a Time in Carriacou” in a faux news cast about Mr. Foster’s stolen donkey. It was a very spontaneous production, but it came out so cute and funny, and again, we had a blast making the video.

Now that I am back in the States, I think about the beautiful island of Carriacou and the beautiful, talented children of the island who inspired me as much as I hope I inspired them. In one project, I took a group to a local business and we interviewed the business owner of the famed snow ices across the street from L’esterre School. Then the children made a collage about the history of the store and the things that inspired Miss Sophia, the shopkeeper, and the next day, presented it to her. She was so touched- she studied the collage carefully and said she would hang it in a very special place in the store.

That for me sums up my experiences at Camp Kayak. It is a special place in which creativity and community inspire the campers, the counselors, and the amazing community of Carriacou. Thank you Miss Victoria for bringing us all together, a wonderful community of artists and an equally amazing group of young, beautiful children eager to learn and play. I am already counting down the days until summer 2012. “Bust a tune, there!”

Arin Yoon – Camp Kayak’s Creative Media Director

Color wheels…
August 26, 2011

The past two weeks have been exciting, fulfilling and so much fun! Teaching the children of Crarricou and Petite Martinique is truly a blessing and continual learning experience for me, one that I carry with me in my own continual art creation process and in teaching back in the States.  This summer we focused on local legends and folklore. These were very interesting and the inspiration for illustrative class painting. The study of color and hue developed these paintings. I was amazed at the precision and beauty of the color wheels the children created, that they will bring home to help remember the methods of color mixing and continue to use in their future painting. I will travel home to Providence invigorated by our students energy and excitement for the arts and new experiences!

Anna Greene-Smith, Painter / Camp Kayak Teacher

Last Days Session 1 – 2011
August 22, 2011

Summer 2011 – session one

The summer is full underway…and it has been grand so far! We’ve tried a new formula this year: more campers, more staff…and longer sessions! WOW! What a wonderful expansion we have had. 65 students from the ages of 8-12 yrs. joined us on the first day of Camp Kayak on July 11th, along with 10 CIT students (with past camp experience) and 18 foreign teachers & local volunteers – our group is more than 90 strong! Wide-eyed and ready for an exhilarating day, we gathered at the assembly tables for roll call. Some faces were familiar…. there was Darren from Petite Martinique, and Tamara from Petite Carrinage, Anntoya from Lauriston, and Edwina from Mount Pleasant, but for the most part the students of 2011 are new, anxious to learn what Camp Kayak is all about.

Studios in Photography, Film, arts and craft, music, dance, sports and cooking kept us all busy that initial week…classes of 8 were assigned their colors and excitedly headed off to learn something new! The children in the film and photo classes – manned with cameras and new perspective photographed each other, the campus, and their teachers. They scoured the grounds finding shapes of letters in nature, to spell out their names. Dances were choreographed and music was written by the campers. Paint pots were filled and a variety of projects undertaken…the campus was buzzing!

Each day we sit down to a big nutritious meal…we have dined on Lasagna, and fish, meatloaf and stewed chicken….The camp favorite of course, was Tuesday when the “Lazy Turtle” restaurant sponsored Pizza day – the children vied to work in the kitchen and cook that meal themselves! Everyone joins in to help, teams of children have been busy washing wears, serving meals and generally keeping watch for what they can do to be of use! I am very proud of them all. One team in particular stands out from the crowd…Green Team has exhibited exemplary skill at helpfulness – they know who they are – winning prizes for their team’s organization and cooperation!

One the last set of days all campers joined in to write and perform a camp play….”Once Upon a time in Carriacou” – a fairy tale based on local folk stories and Cinderella. It was fabulous! I loved the sets, the costumes, the dramatic acting…and most of all – everyone was involved. Our audience, comprised of parents and local community sat enchanted by the actors and actresses…for 40minutes! I am sorry to see this session end. Everyone had a wonderful time and left camp on the last day changed for the betterment of their experience! Thank you session one – 2011 we loved our time with you! See you Sept. 3rd for Parents Day wrap up!

Regards and Blessings,
Victoria Armentrout – Camp Director and Founder

2010 – Completed!
July 28, 2010

33 campers, 15 volunteers, 2 rain days, 1 dog.
We all had tears in our eyes at the end of the day Friday, the kids didn’t want to leave, the counselors were exhausted, plenty hugs were given and taken gratefully. We had an amazing two weeks!

The children have transformed– we have new swimmers and burgeoning artists, actors and dancers, yoga gurus, cooks and avid helpers. We are blessed.
Best of all we have a new camp kayak song, sung by all the kids – it’s really wonderful, check out our link to YouTube and see it for yourself.

Camp is closed now, Carriacou has two big festival weeks ahead and we all need naps for sure. We re-open on August 11th and have 66 more students yet to attend. Exciting, exhausting, exhilarating, and extraordinary! We cannot wait!

July 20, 2010

Has it only been a week?
July 20, 2010

I look at our 30+ first session campers, and I am blown away by them! Some were apprehensive, some came with their parents, some shed tears of transition, others traveled over from another island and many had never met before. This week they have transformed. Today I read all their journals, and smiled. The pages are filled with joy, sketches and self portraits! And the kids seems to now feel completely comfortable on campus, and call it their own.

We have new swimmers, and drummers, and chefs, and gymnasts. We have song writers, and singers, actors and painters. They are really blooming in front of our eyes. These days are long, and we are whipped by 5:00pm, but I find myself missing the kids today. Still glad for our precious weekend days off.

Tomorrow brings a counselor pool party in Craigston, and a bit of preparation for Monday – but mostly a nice restful time together, week two is next! So, I’m feeling proud and content tonight, and very grateful that this Camp came into being in Carriacou!

More to come!

Great Day at CPR Class
July 8, 2010

Yesterday, marked a special day for Camp Kayak – 10 if us took the all day CPR certification class to be emergency responders and 10 are certified today! How fantastic – how proud I am of everyone! The day was long, hot and sticky but we all hung in there and learned the proper procedures and techniques to look listen feel then ACT – in emergency situation accurately – at the camp – and in our daily life, so awesome!

Today, after much celebrating last night we have a few events to join in on – Fisherman’s birthday in Harvey Vale, and the graduation ball at After Hours tonight, lookout Carriacou this is our last weekend before camp and we are all stepping out on the town!

Tomorrow brings a proper BBQ at a lovely spot on the beach and hard work begins again Monday…containers to unpack, children to schedule, bus routes to plan and organization in full swing at the stadium – updates to follow!

As they say on Carriacou, let we roll!

Live from Snake Pit
June 30, 2010

Its our one week and two day anniversary in the West Indies– hooray! There is a feeling of anticipation and excitement as we wait for the container to arrive, and for camp to begin. Already we have made good friends and experienced local food, lifestyle and festivities. From Fisherman’s Birthday Beach Celebration to Lonnie’s Lambi Waters (a local fish soup made with conch and veggies) our time here so far has been quite exciting. Today we visited two schools, L’Esterre and Hillsborough. The students were full of energy and just as excited to meet us as we were to meet them. Go Camp Kayak!

-Anna and Erika

Made of Magic Stuff
June 29, 2010

Well, we all made it to Grenada safe and sound!
Everyone is settling in nicely and Carriacou is beginning to feel like home to our American team!

The last weeks have been truly amazing – what has been accomplished and where we have been. In the past 10 days our counselors arrived at Maurice Bishop Airport in Grenada, and we have received our first palette of goods…we bought additional equipment in Grenada, and started the installation of electrical fans into the studios at the stadium. We have our little red mail box out front of the camp entrance, and organization of our artist spaces is beginning now.

Snake Pit had come alive with the addition of the Camp Kayak Team – and having a vibrant place to hang is great! Richard Barcley and Christopher Bartholomew have been amazing, arranging all the little conveniences of home to make the team feel welcome. Lonnie Wyse has been cooking like a champ – teaching us all about Lambi waters and Oil Down. Laura Smith is the den mother extraordinaire. CPR certification class is on Friday, and we will work hard to get 10 of us tested and ready for the next three years!

This past Saturday was Fisherman’s Birthday on Carriacou and is a most wonderful day of music and cooking all along the beach. A day when the local fisherman give back to the nation by serving eats and drinks for free, to the people that support them all year long. We enjoyed watching Anna and Erika roll cou cou and sticky rice into yummy baked balls of delicious matter – so tasty! All sorts of kids tumbled into the sea and played with us – and many people are beginning to know us by face at Paradise bay.

Sunday, another outing took us to Point Cistern – the future site of Camp Kayak for a neighborly BBQ on the beach – volunteers and counselors alike joined us to relax and enjoy the last free weekend before the big push to open July 12th! A fantastic day was had by all – and everyone chipped into make it work.

We are so pleased to have enthusiastic local volunteers signing up to work and play at Camp Kayak – this summer seems to be made of magic stuff.
More details as it all unfolds, I am overwhelmed and so excited by what is coming together down here!

See you at Camp Kayak very soon!

Victoria Armentrout
Camp Director/Founder

20 Days Til I Fly!
June 3, 2010

It’s June 1st, which means only 20 days til I fly away to Carriacou! Thoughts of the island bring to mind scenic beach imagery and a fresh ocean breeze, but back to reality. Now that the container has been shipped, its time to get serious and start preparing my curriculum. Testing out craft projects and printing techniques should make for a very fun and interesting week! Over this beautiful holiday weekend I got super inspired by all the great textures at the beach– sand, rocks, seaweed, shells etc. Hmm, definitely sounds like a project for some beginner printmakers to me, be back soon with the results!