Philippines LitCamp Day 4: A Beautiful Mosaic of Personalities

Today was our last day of camp at the school in Bulacan. Tomorrow we go to Clearwater Resort to have our last day of camp poolside. The kids have been talking about it since day one and cannot wait.

It's been an incredible four days so far. The last time LitWorld traveled to the Philippines we were still discovering the LitClub communities and meeting so many different people. On this trip we all feel grateful to get to spend these action-packed days with these amazing children who are so generous and loving in spite of the unfathomably harsh conditions in which they live.

This morning Susannah and I had the opportunity to ride the vans to Bulacan to pick up the kids. The new community is in the countryside with fresh air, green fields and space. The community is made up of a long series of row houses made of cinderblock and cement. The houses are bigger with backyards. Some of the houses already have gates and have been painted bright colors. Ate Ludy (pronounced AH-tay, meaning Auntie) shared with Madison that there are many job opportunities for new families moving there, which is comforting to hear.

We arrived at camp and after a rousing morning meeting headed into bunk time. For my check-in question with the oldest campers, I asked them about something difficult that happened to them in the past, and what they did about it to change it or make it better. I asked them to write for five minutes and they wrote for even longer and then shared with each other and me.

Some kids wrote about being separated from friends now that many families have moved to Bulacan, some kids wrote about the monsoon that wiped out Ulingan in 2012. They said that texting makes it easy to stay in contact, and that God saved their lives during the monsoon. Today's activity was "Welcome to My World" in which the kids are asked to draw out their ideal worlds, thinking about who would be in it, what the rules would be, what things would be in it. Everyone drew houses and gardens and they were all beautiful.

In the afternoon, we went into our rotations. I had the older kids for two rotations and it was great to be able to sing Tuwe Tuwe with them, and work with them to write their own team songs. In my time with the different groups, it's been a highlight to watch them work together, and also learn more about them as individuals. We know who are the quiet, thoughtful kids, we know who are the rambunctious jokers, we know who are the kids who like to share with the group and who would prefer to write in their notebooks for ages. It's a true privilege to be able to spend so much quality time with so many sweet, dear kids.

Even though it's become more and more impossible to leave them at the end of the day, I can't wait to begin more LitClubs so that we can continue to connect with these kids throughout the year. Three cheers for that!

--Yaya Yuan, LitWorld's Innovation Developer