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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