IMPROVISATION IS KEY! Story Power Camp Day 3 11&12

 After a slightly rough start to the week, we agreed we needed to empasize our innovative, creative and resourceful spirits in order to pull together something the campers would like for the rest of the week. We sat in the office yesterday round table style with magazine clippings all around us as we conversed about the best approach to compel the campers to be excited about reading, writing, listening, and speaking. We could use fun fonts and images from magazines in order to get the campers using letters and words to let their imaginations flow.

We started off the morning with a game of “Cat & Mouse,” only one camper had played it before so they were very excited to learn a new game that would let to run and play without having to do it the whole time the game continued. The weather was also perfect! The harmonious blend between not too hot and not too cold – basically we were playing in Goldilocks porridge. All the campers were not only receptive of playing the role of cat or mouse, but they were also very supportive of their peer cats and mice when they themselves were frozen.  We were chanting things like “You can do it! Catch that mouse!” and “Come on mouse! Faster faster!”  The game was so successful we even let them play an extra ten minutes. 

Ayliana (the mouse) is almost caught!

You can feel the tension as Emily and Ana prepare to make a run for it...

Shannon & Edwin chuckling at our Tom & Jerry reminiscent game


I'm out to catch my mouse!  Look at Ana moving at the speed of light!

After game time I decided it was a good idea to get to know the camper names one more time since I noticed we had some shift in campers from Monday’s group and Emily C was joining Jessie and me for the day.  I decided we should share our names and the color of our auras, this was a quick exercise that all the campers enjoyed, my favorite choice was the color Burgundy – the color of Jalen’s aura today. After they had a quick sip of water, I proceeded to introduce the campers to the next game we would play, which Emily C had wittingly named “Rapid Ring of Fire” 2 seconds before the campers arrived.  Success!  I numbered everyone off, including Dajia, Shannon, Jessie, and Emily C into 1’s and 2’s and had the 1’s get into a circle in the middle facing the outside and the 2’s in a circle facing the inside circle.  This arrangement worked out perfectly because I was the only one without a partner, which made it much easier to facilitate the activity.  The partners were completely random and we realized at the end of the day that for many of the campers this was their first one-on-one conversation with each other. 

Edwin's aura was light blue today :)

Anticipating the next topic...

The trick was that for each topic one of the circles would have the opportunity to talk for one minute while the other circle listened and tried to remember as much of the story as possible. The four topics were “If you found a thousand dollars, what would you do?" Holidays, Family, and “If I had a twin..” again topics we came up with before we started – what did I say about improvisation? Winning! After we finished four rounds, giving each circle a chance to talk twice and listen twice, we got into a giant circle. I explained that for each topic the campers could share a story that they heard but change it and talk as if the story were their own without sharing whom they heard the story from. The campers were very receptive to this approach and everyone shared one story that they heard about their fellow campers. CJ shared a particularly funny one about buying all kinds of scented lotions and swimsuits from Victoria’s Secret if “he” had a thousand dollars.  

Ring of Rapid Fire!

Next up is time in the classroom, after a quick break, we dove right in to read aloud.  Today’s pick was a book called “Gifted Hands” a biography about Ben Carson.  Though there were many complex medical terms the campers were very intrigued by the gory details of the neurosurgeon’s famous surgery splitting two Siamese twins conjoined at the head.  The campers viewed the story as a clear message to dream big.  The picture of the babies conjoined at the head was the most impacting picture of all, to think about the fact that the 10-year-old kid in the class called “stupid” by all his classmates went on to perform one of the most famous surgeries of all time really inspired them.  They ended read aloud time with a loud round of applause and jumped up ready to do some reading of their own.

       Some picked up the “Gifted Hands” book to read some more of the story, while others picked out a book from the library or one they brought from home to silently read.  The room was so quiet I could have dropped a pin and heard it drop.  Success!  After that Emily C wrote out some contemporary topics which were debate worthy for the campers to write about.  Everyone was really excited about the topics they got, either: Who’s the best basketball player of all time? Jordan, LeBron, or Kobe? Who is the best singer? Nicki Minaj, Keri Hilson, Ciara, or Beyonce?  What is the better channel?  Disney or Nickelodeon?  What is the best team in the NBA?  It was 11:20 AM and all the campers were so engrossed in writing their arguments that we decided not to interrupt them even though they each already had at least a page of writing.  I ran around the room and saw that everyone had more or less taken different sides on the contemporary issues and decided this would be a really good debate to perform!

Oh yea…remember those dream collages?  Out the window!  We decided instead of having them debate their points at the tables we would have each topic debate in front of the group!  Here’s the re-cap:  First up was Disney Channel versus Nickelodeon.  Both Edwin and Ayliana decided Disney channel was the way to go with their hip shows and refreshing new movies, while one of our young counselors, Dajia, decided to take them on with the argument that Nickelodeon was clearly a classic and who could compare any Disney Channel show to SpongeBob?  At the end of the debate, Nickelodeon’s argument seemed to have the approval of the audience...I personally think the Spongebob point won them over.

Next up was the basketball debate: Isaiah claimed Michael Jordan was a legend and could not compare to any contemporary player.  Tawoin said the Miami Heat with their star lineup of LeBron, Wade, and Botch was the way to go, while Jalen argued that the Lakers with 5-time championship ring winner Kobe Bryant were the true all-stars.  This debate caused uproar from the viewing campers, some even jumped up from their criss-cross applesauce postions out of their passionate disapproval or approval.  The votes of whose argument was most convincing with a close tie between the legendary Michael Jordan and the Miami Heat star line-up.

Our final debate was one of heated proportions with maximum energy, just the right note to end off the day.  Dun dun dun…Battle of the singers!  This issue caused such deep-rooted controversy that sides were swayed on the spot and arguments abandoned to join forces with the opponent.  Here is a quick play-by-play.  CJ, who was originally debating that LeBron was a better basketball player than Kobe or Jordan, decided to switch over onto battle Minaj’s side.  Toteyania who intended on debating that Michael Jackson was the best singer also decided to join the Minaj battle.  They were clearly feeling the impromptuness of the day as well!  Ana who could not decide between Nicki and Beyonce chose to write on both, but last minute decided to debate for Beyonce.  Ana went first claiming that Beyonce has the whole package – actress, singer, and dancer.  Key quote:  “Did you see that Beyonce video, “Who Run the World?” Beyonce rocked that dance like nobody’s business.”  Then it was time for team Minaj, with Toteyania, CJ, Jada, and Vanessa.  They made the argument that Nicki Minaj is the new now.  She a rapper with a very artistic screen presence, as Ruby put it “very avant-garde.” The debate caused so much heated tension that two of our young counselors went up to join team Beyonce and I had to stand in the middle as the mediator between the two sides when the debate heated up.  Dajia came in with the argument that whereas “Nicki has a few good hits off of ONE album, Beyonce has maybe five best-selling albums and that’s not even thinking about her time as a Destiny’s Child…oh yea and Minaj can’t dance.”  At the end of this point a couple of Minaj debaters tried to discreetly tiptoe onto the Beyonce side.

After all the points I asked the audience who had the most convincing argument: Beyonce or Nicki Minaj’s side?  With one vote for Minaj, team Beyonce won by a landslide.  So the battle of 4 against 1 turned into a victory for Ana’s side (who never switched her standpoint in the face of adversity.)  You go girl!  We didn’t even have time for a quick round of “Cat and Mouse” since the debate was such a success! Too bad Alyssa’s camera died just before the epic debates!

The lining up and walk to the cafeteria for lunch was pure chaos as the debate over Beyonce vs. Minaj continued.  I asked everyone if they had fun and there were many loud yes’s!  When asked if they liked the debate topics Edwin said, “Yes I liked all of them, except for the Nicki Minaj and Beyonce one.  CLEARLY Beyonce is the only choice! She’s a better dancer AND she’s so much prettier!”  On that note,  I leave you to ponder, who run the world?


- Cathleen