Monday, July 13th marked the kick off of the fourth annual Batey Libertad Summer Camp. Led by local youth leaders, international volunteers and Yspaniola interns, over 90 children participate in two activities per day including sports, art, theater, health, and music. The energy in the air is palpable as the campers zoom from activity to activity ending the day with a typical Dominican lunch of chicken, beans and rice, or more colloquially called, ‘la bandera.’
Music is a popular activity, and one that is uniquely different from its American counterpart. In the ‘locale,’ or local gathering place, the campers dance to music played by the local youth leaders, who sing, clap, and play the drums and guidra. Enthusiastically, the campers pair up and practice bachata with one another, a classic Dominican dance. Children of all ages perform the intricate steps and ‘vueltos’ with a hilarious ease in comparison to international volunteers.
When the kids finally make their way to art or health, they are sufficiently tired enough to sit still for a lesson on personal hygiene in health, or a mask-making session in art. Summer camp provides children from the batey with a perfect mix of instruction and fun. By the end of the week, the campers have imitated animals, had their faces painted, played soccer, constructed instruments, and learned the basics of personal health care, all before a hearty meal— la bandera— for lunch!