Health Day was a lot of fun, excluding the important the presentation about sexual health and contraception. It was interesting, and I was very happy that the girls were asking a lot of questions, but I’m not sure that fun is the right word. Taekwondo class was a blast though. A teacher from a local school came with 4 of her students. Seeing the students walking around helping and correcting the camp girls was great – the corrections to their poses were coming from their peers.

We all cooked dinner a healthy dinner together, trying to reinforce the concepts from the nutrition presentation. We made a chicken and vegetable stir-fry, rice, potato pancakes, homemade applesauce, and a carrot and potato puree. Everything except the puree was a big hit, because we didn’t cook the garlic enough and it was tad overpowering. The girls all know how to cook, but we still had some tricks up our sleeves. I think we blew one girl’s mind with the plain steamed rice. She was starting to make it in typical Mexican fashion where you apparently boil the rice for a bit first, then saute it in oil, and add tomatoes and other seasoning. She was convinced that just steaming it would never work. When the rice came out both done and tasty, we felt very proud to have convinced her. It’s all about changing perspectives. Check.

The girls also met with their mentors to discuss the body-image drawings they had made on Day 2. Speaking with a mentor afterwards, she commented to me that her charges seem to be very put-together. So, she went on to challenge them with some tough questions about their futures. What do they want to be and thinking about the path that would take them there. Specifically, could they leave home to pursue a career, or even a higher education? Family is so important in these communities that the girls had a hard time answering. They know they want an education and are drawn to good, challenging careers, but the reality of having to leave home to pursue those careers makes them pause. Most of us as mentors or camp counselors have the point of view that of course they should leave home and get an education to better their lives. However, this particular mentor also took a step back and challenged me to think about if that really is necessary to be happy. If they want to stay in their communities, close to their families, maybe that is good. Overall, the camp is not about telling them what is best and what they should do with their lives, but getting them to think about these issues and showing them a new perspective, whether that be with rice, yoga or education/career opportunities. All credit to friend and co-Volunteer Tessa for putting together this amazing camp and developing the week’s program like she did. Just extraordinary what she can do and did. I’m so happy to have been involved, contributing what I could, and having the whole experience. Three and half more days of camp to post about.

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The important presentation about sexual health and contraception

I was great to see all the note-taking, and a lot of questions where asked as well.

And the session included demos.

Each presenter received a Camp Mariposas shirt in thanks.

The girls each met with their mentors to discuss the body-image drawing they had done a few days before.

Mentor and mentoree

It was great to see the engagement of the campers and mentors.

Taekwondo class demands respect. The teacher from a local school was fantastic and the girls sat quietly to watch.

The impressive students from the school

I mean, very impressive students.

Time to get down to business in taekwondo class. We should have done this every day instead of yoga.

The girls from the taekwondo school were wonderful, and it was great to see them helping their peers.

Quite a few girls seriously shouldn't be messed with

I wonder what she was picturing on the punching bag.

Some light conditioning - hopping over the "rabbit"

This exercise didn't work this well in most cases, but there was a lot of giggling. So, that is another measure of success.

The whole group

Picture-taking time. The camp girls were fascinated by the taekwondo school girls.

Then we had a presentation about nutrition, just before we all cooked a healthy meal together.

Chopping for the dinner stir-fry

Grating potatoes for latkes, which were a huge hit because who doesn't like giant tater tots.

Cooking our too-white chicken for the stir fry. Most of the chicken is much more yellow here, so the girls were skeptical about this chicken.

The Schmidt camera telescope tour was a big hit.

Posed and poised in front of the telescope.

Big smiles all around at the telescope

And, finally, at the end of the evening, little dancing