Summer in Dubai is definitely the time to do something 'summer' related. As some of you may know, I and my sisters have volunteered in a kids summer camp hosted by WellSpring. WellSpring is a company based in Egypt that pursues teaching children of this generation some of the values that are quite necessary in life like integrity, excellence, teamwork and a lot more. Having been part of different kids events in the UAE like Awana and Kidsgames, the thought of volunteering really excited me plus the fact that I was looking forward for a good time there too. Although it's not based or related to anything about Christianity, it nonetheless freshened me up as I really wanted to get some valued time to spend with kids. The event took place in Ras Al Khaimah Academy where most of the students there — went to school.
We had joined the team during the second week and stayed there for the whole five days, and I'm quite amazed that we have survived five day without the parentals — completely on our own.
On the first day, it was a lot confusing than what I expected. Since some of the volunteers already helped out during the first week, we thoroughly had no idea how things normally went. All the youth/ volunteers from church who were present were given different teams where we'd be in charge of the kids. They did so many activities from dancing their strengths out, learning through video clips, games, swimming and art. Spending at least eight hours a day at camp is no wonder why we were most likely attached to a bunch of them and they to us. I'm telling you, it was exhausting, but I believed it would be worth it. At noon, we all were taken to our villas by a school bus. I was relieved when I saw the sofas and immediately clung on to it. We then ate pizza at the boys' villa which I must say was technically the meeting place by default . (Yummy!) We were all tired, I guess so most of us went to sleep soon. I usually have problems during the first days doing strenuous activities as my arms have a tendency to just get sore which happened and almost never made me sleep. Good thing, I brought an ointment with me to help ease the pain. Pain no more!
On the second day, we woke up at around six and prepared to go to the boys' villa to have a quick morning devotion with the rest of the team. That moment for me was refreshing. Everyone around were Christians relying on the strength of Christ — hoping to impact the lives of the children — not by words but by actions. The second day went well. I got to know more about the kids and spent more quality time with them.
Just to share a little bit of what happened, there's this time during swimming when I had a meaningful conversation with a little kid. She was kind of bossy as she demanded me to fix her arm floaters when there was completely nothing wrong with it. She insisted so I told her to learn her 'please and thank you's' first. She didn't want to listen at first, so I pretended to walk away. The next thing I knew was that she finally let out a heartfelt "please" which genuinely made me smile deep inside. That was then followed up with her saying a "thank you". To sum it up, the day went by fast that the staff and we the volunteers decided to eat out at Al Manar mall. We did split up since not everyone could fit in people's cars and ended up waiting for the rest who went to the wrong mall. Haha! So while waiting, we had a chance to roam around the mall. To be honest, I've been to RAK many times , but I surely can't remember stepping in a mall so it was definitely a first time for me too. After dinner, we had a quick play at the games station (or arcade? I don't know what it's called) and it was boom! Say hello to me who nearly vomited everything I've eaten after that ride. But hey, it was pure enjoyment!
The third day went by fast, I was getting used to the routine — waking up at six, devotion at 7:30 (which was at the gym this time not in the boys' room), start to play any game with kids not thinking how silly it is to play chase with a 5 year old in a large basketball court or play shoot the ball with a kid who totally speaks zero English. I just love remembering those kids and also the super draining monkey dance and ba-bap or whatever they would call it.
Remember the kid at the pool the other day? Well, there's this time when I passed by her and her brother during snack time.
The scenario: her brother was asking for some of her snack. what's heartwarming is that she even taught him to say please and thank you and used exactly the same words that I told her the day before. That alone is something I treasure until now. All the hard work, all the draining activities — it's all worth it the moment you hear someone learn what you taught them and pass it around. During evening, we had a dinner at another volunteer's house who lived in RAK. Her place was really familiar to me for we used to visit our cousins who used to stay there before. And you might guess that we went to sleep right away? No. We had a cool music jam with the feel good people at the boys' room right after! No way we're getting tired.
The fourth and fifth day was normal; nothing new, but our time with the kids were always something special to me. I love conversing with kids and playing with them. At the end of the fifth day, which was Thursday, parents came over and had a party with us and their kids as we handed certificates of attendance to the children and got to chat with some of the parents.
Over all, the only enemy at that time was the weather. It was hotter than it usually was and because of that, I began to have cough and colds at the second day. I learned a lot of things because of this camp, and that includes bringing a bottle of water with me everywhere – which I grew up not used to. Those days weren't perfect, I admit. If only I could call my parents to pick me up because I felt like my strength plus my voice have come to an end. Even then, the lesson here is: Never assume when it's just your first day for nothing really comes handy at first. There may be a lot of difficulties at first, but when you keep going, it'll not only be fun, but worth it as well.
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