A Week In Nakaseke: Annual Camp

Gloria Nakangu, Wells of Hope’s Assistant Programs Officer (2nd Right; first row) with the rest of the camp leaders sharing a photo on October 15th

It is amazing to have attended Camp David Uganda 2020 which was scientific; and we all had a lot of fun, while practicing the COVID-19 Standard of Operation Procedures (SOPs) put in place by the Ministry of Health. Some of the measures included: wearing masks, washing hands and taking body temperature.

The preparations for the camp started a couple of weeks earlier and the staff were extremely happy that the camp was going to be held even during COVID. My memories all started way before October 11th when the camp was kicked off. On Saturday 6th there was a lot of activity at the head office as the team packed the children’s backpacks; making sure that all necessities (like journals, pens, pencils, among other items) and gifts had been included in each bag.

On Sunday 11th, all roads led to Wells of Hope Junior School which was the campsite. The team, joined by the children in tertiary institutions expressed a lot of excitement as they headed to the Junior School for the fully packed week ahead. This year, 83 children with parents in prison participated actively in all activities though.

Upon arrival at the Junior School, we were happily welcomed by the children who were already waiting for us in anticipation. Compared to the usual days, the children were very thrilled because were already longing for the Annual Camp since June. These are the children who stayed behind after schools were closed in March due to COVID-19 outbreak because they do not have homes to go back to; some were rescued from the community because they were involved in child labor; and others are at risk in their communities.

Throughout the week, the children were very excited; and they expressed their excitement through loud cheers during rotations as they headed for the different activities; they also wore very wide smiles. Before, they had lost hope for the camp to happen this year due to the outbreak of COVID 19 in Uganda.

The children were divided into seven groups (4 for girls and 3 for boys) according to their age groups and the groups included: Crystals (5-9 years), Rubies (9-12 years), Diamonds (12-14 years), Pearls (14-17 years), Lions (6-11 years), Tigers (11-14 years) and Panthers ( 16-17 years).  

 Marjorie Lunkuse, the Deputy Executive Director was the Camp Director alongside Ellen Eva Ssuubi, the Executive Director; they worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone had a tremendous and memorable week.

Being a Counsellor Coach taught me how the Annual Camp is run (I had never attended a camp before); how to discover children’s ability to perform quality work; to know more about children’s behavior; to know children’s feelings like assertiveness, aggression; and to react on any feeling without hurting anyone.

Gloria (extreme right) interacting with counselors

Seeing children engaged in morning devotions with their counsellors this was one of my major highlights; children were very active during the sessions and freely shared what they learnt each day. Besides that, counsellors were able also to observe children’s behaviors, attitudes towards others during the session and this helped a counsellor to know who needed more counselling or who needed a referral for psychosocial or medical referral. During free time, counsellors created time to talk to their campers about their lives like their behaviors; how to manage the physical changes in adolescence; and they also shared with them personal life experiences as the children also shared theirs.

One of my most cherished moments is seeing children in all groups participating in memorizing scriptures; some children were able to memorize over 100 verses; the theme for the camp; and the ten Secret Powers. The children expressed a lot of confidence when presenting and this gave them a chance to be more assertive and stick to the truth hence building their esteem.

The shaving cream battle was the game I enjoyed most during the week! Every child and staff member was happy; this raised the children’s esteem, trust, rapport and helped me to build strong relationships with children; and to discover more how play is therapy to children especially children with incarcerated parents.

On October 15th which was the last day of the camp, the children couldn’t wait to have campfire in their respective groups, joined by staff. Everyone was engaged in sharing; staff shared encouraging stories with the children and later children shared theirs to encourage one another to always be strong when hard times come in life.  The children couldn’t hide their glee during beef roasting and as they received award certificates from their counselors; they didn’t want the night to end.

Compiled By: Gloria Nakangu, Wells of Hope’s Assistant Programs Officer

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