What can be said of the BCVI Summer Camps for Kids? They are exciting & fun learning experiences, and the camps are something that is looked forward to each year by staff, clients & volunteers alike.
The first Summer Camp was held in 1997 at the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary & Jaguar Preserve, southwest from Dangriga in the Stann Creek District, about 10 miles away from any settlement. We had our share of scares from snakes to scorpions, but children, siblings & staff came away from that camp with happy memories.
Because of the success of that first camp, Summer Camps have become an annual activity of BCVI. Summer Camp 1998 was again held at the Jaguar Preserve, but the venue was changed for Summer Camp 1999. In this year it was held at the Santa Familia Monastery in Santa Elena Village in the Cayo District.
It was suggested that a theme for each Summer Camp be chosen, and the theme slogan would be placed on the camp T-shirts. The theme for 1999 was, “It’s All about Reading.” This theme meant that all the activities of the camp would incorporate reading & writing, whether in print or braille.
The convenience offered to us at the monastery encouraged us to return in 2000 when our theme was “Reaching for the Stars”, and again in 2001 with a theme of “Exploring the World through Reading.”
But learning is only part of what the Summer Camps offer. The children are taken on field trips to well-known areas of the country such as San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, where they enjoy swimming in the ocean & playing in the sand.
In keeping with the educational aspect of the camps, in 2004, for the first time, the children’s stay was extended to include an extra week, during which they lodged in Belize City at the Stella Maris School. The participants took part in everything from arts & crafts to computer training.
With the help of the screen-reading computer software programme “JAWS”, students were able to read & write e-mail & Microsoft Word documents. They also had the opportunity to surf on the Internet with the help of MyCuz.Net, who provided free Internet access.
We hope to continue providing this fun & educational event for all our children & young adults who are blind or visually impaired.
Summer Camp 2011 – “Exploring Technology”
Summer Camp 2011 was the best camp yet! For two weeks, children from throughout the country enrolled in the BCVI Rehabilitation and Education Programme gathered in Belize City to focus on “Exploring Technology.”
A total of 30 visually impaired children accompanied by a guardian (If under 15) were hosted at the Lion’s Hostel on Princess Margaret Drive from July 12th until July 22nd. The Annual Summer Camp is BCVIs chance to get all its younger clients together for an assessment and re-evaluation and to teach them the necessary skills for the upcoming school year.
We kicked off the camp with a welcome party for the children and their families sponsored by Jamborees, complete with pizza and surprise visit from Rene Villanueva, 9-year-old Courtenay Gillett’s idol. Mr. Villanueva spoke with some of the children and invited us on his evening show, Belize Watch.
Classes commenced on the 13th and this year’s lessons included Braille, Cubarithm (Math), Slate and Stylus, Spelling, Reading, Writing and Music. For the older children, Camp was used to introduce the use of Computer and a speech software tool to help them in researching online and also received lessons in typing. BCVIs IT Department and RFOs also provided lessons in Digital Voice Recorders especially for those who are entering higher levels at school and will need to keep up using a faster method than typing or Braille. Mother of 13-year-old Rowan Garel said, “Rowan said his favourite part of Camp was the math classes. That says a lot of Sr. Elsa and her teaching skills because Row hates math!”
Thanks to local artist Gilvano Swasey, who donated his time to the cause, the students from preschool to university took part in daily Arts and Crafts lessons inwhich they learned about cool and warm colors, textures and shapes.
But of course, Camp would not be the same without the field trips! This year, we were hosted by Channel 5 at KTV Duets for the Opening Night as well as the 2nd show. Campers were also treated to an outing at Bacab, the BTL Park and a tour of the Love FM Studios. Ozzy the Clown also made a special appearance at Camp where the children were part of the activities. The highlight of this year’s Summer Camp was the overnight trip to the Tropical Education Center and the Belize Zoo where the campers and their families were given an exclusive nighttime tour and were even allowed to feed some of the animals! Camper Courtenay Gillett recalls the most memorable part of the trip, “The sounds were amazing! I could hear the animals so loud!”
The Campers, their families and BCVI staff were featured on LoveFM and Open Your Eyes, which gave them the exposure and opportunity they wanted to show our country that there is nothing keeping them back.
BCVI hopes to continue receiving support in order to make Summer Camp in 2013 a reality!