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Mini Camp H.E.A.L. 2012

Over fall break, I organized a 3-day mini Camp H.E.A.L. with a handful of other PCVs, using the leftover funds from my summer Camp H.E.A.L. partnership grant from Peace Corps. Camp H.E.A.L. is an annual Peace Corps-organized summer camp focused on the biology, transmission, prevention, and treatment of HIV/AIDS, counter human trafficking, human rights, leadership, volunteerism, healthy lifestyles and project design and management. This is by far my favorite Peace Corps summer camp, and the one that I'm the most passionate about. I've been involved with this camp for the last 2 years - you can check out my blog post about the summer Camp H.E.A.L. 2012 here

Rocking our Camp HEAL tshirts!
For this mini version of the summer camp, we headed to a little town called Ahtyrka in Sumskaya Oblast (on the eastern side of Ukraine, northwest of Kharkiv). I originally wanted this camp to take place in the city of Kharkiv, but it didn't work out because Kharkiv doesn't have many sanatoriums/resorts and we couldn't afford staying at a hotel downtown. So we decided to rent a charter bus to/from the Kharkiv train station and stayed at the beautiful resort Bymerovka, the site of Camp H.E.A.L. and Camp OHALOW in 2011. We took 50 students from around Kharkiv region, ages 14-20 as participants along with a few university students and English teachers as adult chaperones. It was super jam-packed with activities, lessons, and games and I think everyone was a little overwhelmed with how much we had planned, but everyone seemed to have a great time.
With my school psychologist Ira Ivanovna!
My 11th grade student Anna Overko, who is an amazing artist - she painted this banner for us!
Matt with his counterpart Julia, an English teacher from Myrgorod, Poltavskaya Oblast. 
We divided up the participants into six teams, and asked them to come up with a a team name and design a team flag. Some of these kids are super creative and came up with funny names that I would never have thought of!
The "Red Curly Leg Hairs"
Lukas and the "Blue Smurfs"
The "Crazy Chickens"
The "Green Crocodiles Family"
Niki and the "Pink Panthers"
Matt and the "Purple Pandas"
We started off the first night with a lesson on the biology of HIV/AIDS and making origami red ribbons to show awareness and solidarity for people living with HIV and AIDS. We used a lesson plan created by my friend Abby Anderson, another Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine who  also worked at Camp HEAL and Camp OHALOW (Overcoming HIV AIDS and Leading Our World) with me in 2011. You can get the lesson plan here, with instructions on how to fold your own red ribbon from a sheet of A4 sized paper.
Niki and Pete explaining the stages of HIV.
Matt going over the T-cells and B-cells. 
Niki working on the red ribbons with the pink team.
Kym making ribbons with her team: the "Curly Red Leg Hairs."
Sorting the ribbons by language - half of them were in English (to be sent to Peace Corps volunteers serving in other countries) and half were in Russian/Ukrainian. 
The ribbons hanging on the wall. Translation - don't lose hope! 
Collecting ribbons with two of the girls. 
Then we had "Dance, Dance, Dance" in the evening - where Kym, Matt and Lukas taught everyone some typical American dances: "Crank Dat Soldier Boy", "Cotton Eyed Joe" and "Cupid Shuffle". These dances were a big hit last summer, so we decided to teach them again!

Cranking dat. 
The steps to Cotton Eyed Joe are tricky!
"Now kick, now kick..."
" walk it by yourself" - Cupid Shuffle
Stas showing off his "Gangham style"
The girls from Kharkiv's Karazin national university. 
Ukrainians love discos!
The second day, we had 3 lessons - Stigma/Discrimination with Jamie, Project Design and Management with Kym and HIV Transmission and Prevention with Niki. The transmission and prevention lesson was interesting because it included a demonstration about the correct way to put a condom on a banana. While this type of demonstration may be considered controversial and risky in Ukraine, it is extremely useful because correctly using a condom to have safe sex is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of HIV. A lot of the kids are shy at first, but then they open up and laugh because none of them have ever put a condom on a banana before.
Jamie explaining the difference between stigma and discrimination.
Pink and Blue teams with Niki deciding whether the statements about transmission are true or false. 
Kym teaching about the stages of developing a project. 
Niki and I demonstrating the proper way to use a condom. 
the twins, Egor and Misha.
Nela, Lera, Liz and Kate.
Then we had a series of leadership/team building activities organized by Pete, where the teams rotated between three stations. The first station was "crossing the river", where the teams could only step on (paper) stones to cross the river. The second station was "toxic waste", where the teams worked together using only yarn, and a silicone bracelet to pick up a glass and a ball together and move them out of the danger zone. The third station was a 10x10 grid, where the teams had to find the correct path by trial and error. Then signal their teammates without talking, showing them which way to walk across.
Purple team's interesting strategy for "crossing the river"
Green team girls negotiating their way across the grid.
Green team girls untangling themselves in the "human knot"
Ira and Stas working together with the pink team to place the "toxic waste" onto the cup.
We also had a guest speaker come from the Kharkiv regional office of the All-Ukraininan Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS. He shared his life story and experiences as a person living with HIV in Ukraine. Many of the students said that this was very interesting for them, since they had never had the opportunity to meet anyone affected by HIV/AIDS. To protect our guest speaker and his status, I will not post any photos of him. There is still a lot of stigma surrounding HIV in Ukraine, a lot of people are afraid of even hearing the word HIV said out loud. Our camp is one of the few programs trying to change these attitudes by educating the youth of Ukraine about HIV/AIDs, including the ways of transmission and prevention.
Everyone all dressed up in their Halloween costumes. 
In the evening, we had a Hallowen Disco! All of the kids were excited about this because many of them had never celebrated Halloween before. Most Ukrainians tend to think that Halloween costumes have to be scary and bloody, but we tried to show them that Halloween costumes can also be funny or crazy!
Baba Jamie (a Ukrainian grandmother) and iJing. 
Alla as a clown and Jenia as The Joker, with Ira. 
A few of my students from Shevchenkove - Liza, Masha, Lilia, Anna, Anya,  plus Marina and Alla. 
Lots of bloody zombies and vampires with Jill as Iowa sweet corn and Matt as Robin Hood. 
Another group of kids with Matt... notice Vova with the bloody zipper face - he won best male costume!
Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year :)
All the zombies say "rawrrrrrr"
Oppa Camp HEAL style!
On the last day, we had only two lessons - human rights with Lukas and human trafficking with Jill. After the lessons, we had a quick trivia style quiz game to test the knowledge of the students. Since we were crunched on time, we watched the slideshow and quickly passed out all the certificates and then we hopped on the bus back to Kharkiv.

The statistics for Jill's human trafficking lesson.  
Jill teaching about the different types of human trafficking.
Green Crocodile family girls!
Purple pandas!
 I'm proud to have been a part of Camp H.E.A.L. for the past two years during my service in Ukraine as a Peace Corps Volunteer... these 3 camps have been some of the fondest memories that I have, and its been awesome working with such enthusiastic and bright young Ukrainians. I love Camp HEAL!

Running around with my director clipboard, solving problems like no hot water in the rooms or the kitchen not knowing that we had coffee break  haha. 

This post first appeared on Джингер (the Jinger), please read the originial post: here

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Mini Camp H.E.A.L. 2012


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