At the end of the Camp Report Celtra concluded with the following portion which I would like to share with you:
Therefore Celtra wish to thank you for your numerous financial and moral support before, during and after the art camp. We strongly believe that the love and power of Jesus Christ will enhance the unity we propagated amongst the children during the art camp event. It is our prayer that God will bless and grow these art camps to reach more children in future as we target Kawangware and Kangemi in August 2013. We have seen evidence of God’s hand and blessing during the camp in children transformation. May the Good Lord of Jesus Christ bless you, your family, friends, children, parents, Celtra’s staff, volunteers/teachers and the friends of Celtra who supported in enabling us to reach out and touch a life of a child through art.
There were strong bonds formed between the camp teachers and staff and the children. Though it was only four days, these days were intense and created a perfect setting for solid relationships to be established. The kids made new friends with their age-mates and also found teachers and staff that they could look up to and trust. It seems like that Celtra staff felt the same way because on the last day of camp, the kids who excelled the most, in each class, were selected to begin a mentorship program. This is a new thing for Celtra to do, but the idea has come out of the desire to stay connected with the children, and not loose the rich opportunity to impact and encourage a child long-term. The children will be mentored in areas of social, spiritual, academic, and life skills.
Every Saturday afternoon Celtra plans to hold art classes, using the same tools and pathway that initiated the connections with the kids in the first place. In addition to the children coming for weekly art classes, the staff and volunteers of this small arts organization in Kibera will enter into each child’s life outside of Saturdays. School visits and home visits will be intentional ways to deepen the understanding of the needs of each child. To run a weekly program like this, they are beginning to fund-raise on a monthly basis, so that this initiative can be ongoing.
On the final art camp day of camp, Saturday, the children showcased their talents through a public presentation that was held at the Kenya Assemblies of God Olympic Kibera basketball pitch. During the celebration the kids were given special treats, including popcorn, cookies, candy, mandazi, and drinks. Each of the four classes was given time to preform and present what they had been working on and there were judges present, adding the fun element of competition. Everyone who attended the camp was rewarded with a certificate, recognizing their specific achievement within the art class they chose and signed by their teachers. Other awards that were given were Most Behaved, Most Improved, and Best Participation. The ultimate winner on the performance at the celebration, based on judging, was awarded to the drama class, for their dramatic and lively acting skills.
During the first two days, the children rotated, and thus were exposed to all four art-forms On the last two days, each child was able to choose which class they would stick with for the remained of camp. This way the children were exposed to many art forms and then given the chance to develop the artistic skill that most interested them! As the days continued, attendance fluctuated, however the average dropped to around 300 after the first day. The reason being because, though the camp is free for all, there was an age limit. On the first day about half of the children that showed up were under seven years, which was too young. The camp welcomed all the children on the first day, but had to explain to the little ones that for the remaining camp time, camp would only be for the “older” kids.
On each day of camp the children had two meals per day, receiving tea and mandazi’s (Kenyan-style doughnuts) and then a lunch of rice with a variety of things, depending on the day, including lentils, beans, cabage, potatoes, beef (a rare and special treat!).
On 1st May 2013 the art camp kicked off at 8:30AM with a very huge turn up of 600 kids. The Celtra staff and teachers registered each child and then divided the children into four classes after having a morning assembly. The children then attended rotated between classes, attending one art class in the morning and then after lunch each child would go to a different class than the one they had previously attended. During morning and afternoon assemblies the children were taught an original camp theme song, which was written by the teachers at the training. Psalm 133 was a thematic scripture passage that the children were exposed to each day. Specifically emphasizing the passage “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”
Each class had distinct strategies towards the same goal of unity:
- The mural/drawing class learned about Nelson Mandela, a former South African President, and how he brought unity to his country by ending apartheid and taking a stand against racism.
- The dance class decided on a common song and then incorporated dance movements that communicated unity and togetherness.
- The drama class preformed a play that taught a lesson about unity within the play.
- The fashion class taught unity among the boys and girls that participated by showing how non-verbals such as posture, motions, colors, fabrics, accessories and outfits can communicate deeper meanings.
The Kibera Art Camp was hosted and organized by an arts organization called Celtra. Though Celtra planned this event, they reached out to their networks and partners, in Kenya, as well. Parklands Baptist Church, The Center for Transforming Missions, and the NPC Woodley Church all assisted in the success of this camp. It is wonderful to see the surrounding community communicate support for their own community and the arts through helping in the camp. Before camp, the volunteer training was held at Celtra’s resource center and sixteen volunteer teachers and seven staff attended.
The camp theme was unity and was divided into the following elements: We belong, We Help Each Other, We Commit to Stay. This theme was an over-arching element that “leaked” into every aspect of the camp, including emphasizing unity among the children and helping them see how to connect the concept of unity to their community at large. In training the artists came up with artistic, academic, social, and spiritual goals for their classes so that as they taught artistic skills and emphasized unity, there was intentional character-building behind each portion of the class. The classes included music and dance, mural, drama, and fashion.