It’s difficult to describe just how extra special today was. This is my fifth camp volunteering for HS, and never has there been anything like the surprise that was given to us today… The kids had prepared a special Rwandan dance, including traditional Rwandan costumes. They looked amazing! They also arranged a unique Hope Shines song they sang. Later on, some of the boys showed us an acrobatic routine they had put together. It was all quite breathtaking, to say the least. Not only that, but the sincere and pure intention behind it all was so touching, and it was clear they put so much effort into it.
The annual camp t-shirts were handed out (with a beautiful design this year!), they learned about germs, and made little “germs” in the arts and crafts portion of the day. Later on they experimented with different objects to see which would float and sink. My group was very enthusiastic, and the 8-count portion of learning the dance seemed easy for them. Some of them are already dancers and they’re just quick learners when it comes to picking up choreography. Needless to say, it was a full day.
Being a long time volunteer and so closely knit with Hope Shines, however, there are things I take for granted (or rather that are more deeply ingrained in me) that are completely new to the other volunteers experiencing this for the first time. For example, a couple volunteers commented after yesterday at how they can’t get over all the love and welcome that had been showered upon them. It’s who these kids are and it’s in the culture, as well. This is something I’ve known for several years now, and embrace with all my being. It’s one of the biggest draws for me coming back here year after year. I go where the love is. As time goes on, and Hope Shines gets to know these kids better, I observe more just what impact this camp and the Hopes Shines experience has on them, especially as they mature into adults. And with these younger kids, especially knowing what little they have outside of camp, it’s apparent just why they’re so grateful, welcoming, and loving. It puts life in perspective and makes you feel blessed, grateful, and humbled. It changes you. I can’t see being without this, and it’s altered the course of my own life.
For now, we go into the second day with open hearts and open eyes… and embrace the kids, the moments, and the magic.