Dear Meredyth,

If you had asked me a year ago how I would want to spend my last long weekend in Botswana, I would not have said, “hanging out with 65 teenage girls, eating Setswana food, sleeping on the floor with six other volunteers, teaching sessions, playing camp games and leading many, many, many cheers.” Alas, that is how I spent my holiday weekend (it was Independence Day here in Botswana.) You know what? It was effing amazing. I spent every last ounce of my energy and patience, but it was absolutely worth it.

The first test of my patience came before camp even got started. Transportation is always an issue here Botswana, this time was no exception. Three of my girls and I waited at the bus stop in Phitshane Molopo from 10:30am til 1:30pm. Did we get picked up in that time? Nope, we were told to go home, and come back to wait again at 3:00pm.

ImageDimpho, Amogelang, and Kelebileone, being good troopers while we waited on our ride. Three of my favorite girls!

Eventually we were picked up at 5:30pm. We squeezed onto the 25 seater bus with 40 other campers and Peace Corps Volunteers. This is a typical transport situation in Bots, everyone knows the drill: three to a seat, assembly line the bags to the back, and find a spot to shove them.

Once we all arrived, ate a late dinner, played a few ice breakers, laid down the rules and gave some instructions on how to survive the accommodations (oh, I forgot to mention, the boarding school we were staying at has no water. It just adds to the fun?) My other PCVs and I piled into our room for a quick, bleary-eyed meeting about the schedule for the next day before giving in to exhaustion.

The camp went so well. Our theme was, “I am woman. Hear me roar!” To honor that theme we made the girls scream ‘roar’ at every opportunity, as well as listen to the Katy Perry song, “Roar”. I have never been a real fan of KP, but that song was certainly fun and fitting for GLOW (girls leading our world) camp.

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Thulaganyo, Maatla and me making our vision boards. Notice Maatla’s hoodie says, “Girls Rule”. So appropriate.

 

 

 

 

Mere, you would have been so proud of me; I was the energizer bunny when it came to leading icebreakers, games, and dances. Most impressive was my friend Liz; Saturday was her 24th birthday, she led four sessions teaching and doing crafts, and still found energy to sing, dance, and play with the girls at every free moment. We celebrated her awesomeness at the end of the night, when she was trying to keep herself awake until we finished our meeting.

Camp Birthday Cake:

Vanilla cake made with olive oil instead of butter. Why? Because that’s what I had to work with and I am on a baking with olive oil love train.

Easiest chocolate ganache frosting in the world: When you pull the cake out of the oven, place your favorite chocolate bar on top. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then slowly spread it over the cake. Boom, chocolate frosting.

After six months of planning, budgets, government purchasing order, lesson planning and coordinating transport, GLOW camp finally came, and sadly went. I wasn’t sure how this project would go for me, it being my last two weeks as a PCV in Botswana (I thought my senioritis would take over). But this camp gave me some of the best memories of service. I love my girls to pieces, and I am so happy that we got to experience this camp.

ImageIn those few days the girls went from shy kids, sticking to their school groups, to dancing, singing, roaring, best friends with everyone, contagiously smiley young women. I am absolutely ending my service on a high note, I would not trade this experience that for anything.

 

 

 

 

 

All my love and roars,

Julia

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