Goals, Yo

We call it the ‘Community Code,’ but I find the final product more artistic than traditional expectations. Our code of conduct is a conglomeration of ideas, the sum of them outlining our hopes, fears, and actions.  

We began by writing down our hopes for camp on a scrap of paper, crumpling our words up, and throwing them into the center of the circle we sat in. We summarized those words and wrote them down in the center of a poster-board sized piece of paper. Using the same method, we wrote down our greatest fears for the upcoming weeks. Our fears were written down along the edges of the paper. Finally, and most importantly, we brainstormed ideas on how to combat those fears, and those ideas filled the remaining space on the paper.

Our desires for camp follow two general themes: opportunities to experience the unknown and a hunger to learn. We want to explore sports, science, and art. We are eager to learn from campers and each other as well as experience a new language and culture. We are thirsty to grow, to build friendships, to laugh, and to cry.

Talk about hefty goals.

With great expectations comes great fear. Though, I think we can hardly be blamed considering the immense task we attempt to undertake. A good number of us feel some sort of trepidation when it comes to language barrier, and this particular fear translates into a worry that us counselors will be unable to connect with our campers. We are worried our preparations will lack, and there is a safety concern for both campers and staff. On top of it all, sleep deprivation appears imminent and for some of us, there is that lovely, looming possibility of traveler’s diarrhea.

After coming to this particular part of the brainstorm, our team brainstormed how to combat our greatest fears. Really, it centers on the idea that this is not a one-person-show. We depend on clear communication, practice, determination, and support for one another (we are cheerleaders for each other and the campers!).

When brainstorming solutions, the team spent a longer time exploring the idea of self-care and safe-spaces. Camp will stretch us physically, mentally, and spiritually, requiring us to take time for rejuvenation. We also need a place to speak, to ask honestly, and to answer with love. Encouragement and support for one another is integral for camp to function at its best.

Upon further reflection, I decided that Camp is not about easy. We don’t need easy; we need possible. Some of our hopes are tied up in and entirely dependent on these next two weeks being a challenge, which means we all require an immense amount of courage.

I would lie to say I don’t share the fears of my teammates. In the weeks before my coming, I found myself bemoaning my fears to various family members. One of these people was my mom, who decided with my dad and family that we would take a refugee minor into our home in January. To my mom I specifically fretted about the language barrier. I asked her, “How am I supposed to be a counselor to kids who don’t speak the same language?”

She replied, “And how am I supposed to be a mom to a daughter who doesn’t speak English?”


At this point, it appears the best option is to move forward with confidence and humility. We have our ideas and expectations, and more importantly, we have each other. Lord willing, great adventures lie ahead.

Here I am

The doors of the airplane opened, and hundreds of passengers flooded the grounds of Antananarivo, Madagascar. The sun was shining with the perfect breeze flowing which was a pleasant change from Southern California weather. I immediately knew this was going to be an incredible week.

It took a bit of time to get through immigration/visa and to gather my luggage. As I stepped outside the double doors of the airport, a small sign that read “CAMP FIHAVAHANA- DAHE JUN” greeted me. As I arrived at the car, there was a man slouched in the back seat passed out. It was Simon, a fellow camp facilitator, who arrived an hour before me and just was catching up on some sleep as he was waiting for me. I knew the drive from the airport to Moramonga would take 2 hours. As 2 hours passed, we were nowhere near our destination. Luckily Simon speaks French, so he was able to communicate with our driver. The driver told us it would take a us few more hours because we had to make a stop to pick up cake for Jessica’s dad’s birthday. At this point, it’s been 3 flights 35 hours, and thousands of miles away from home. I was exhausted and questioning if all this travel was worth it. Was the camp worth it? What am I even doing here?

A few hours later, we arrived at the hotel and was greeted by the team with hugs and smiles and immediately my exhaustion and doubt disappeared. We arrived just in time for Jessica’s dad’s birthday and when Malagasy people party…THEY PARTY. It was such a great welcoming to the community and a small peak of what the weeks to come would look like.

Through it all, Jet lagged, hungry, smelly. Here I am. Ready for the weeks to come. To learn and immerse myself in the culture and community. Hoping along the way to learn from my team and campers and in return take a piece of Camp Fi home with me.

How Do YOU Define Success?

This is the big question I have been asking myself as we are leading into the first week of camp. How do I define success? I have been fortunate to have a team to help me figure out the answer to this big question. One said that success means being happy. Another one said success means reaching your goal, which raised a follow up question: what if I did not reach my goal, but I still learned a life lesson through the process? Does that mean I failed? This is a tough one, isn’t it?

This question led to another definition of success: growth and learning through the process and or about each other.

Though you might have hoped to get a definite definition of the word success, I am sorry to tell you that I still don’t have an exact answer for you. As a team, we came to terms that the idea of success shifts through the journey. It depends on each and everyone’s journey and response to a situation. When something goes wrong, did we help each other? Or did we throw fit?

At Camp Fi, we hope to find and define success by taking our campers through the human levels of thinking. What happened? How did that make you feel? What’s the point? Now what?

I hope you can also ponder, define, and share your definition of success with us. How do you define success?

Ankasitrahako ny Camp Fihavanana satria...

CAMP FIHAVANANA, zavatra iray anisan’ny nanamarika ny fiainako. Ny taona 2017 moa ny andiany voalohany tamin’ny CAMP FI, izay nandraisako anjara ho anisan’ireo « Staff Camp Counselor ». Anisan’ny nanamarika ahy ny fiarahana tamin’ireo tanora namana vahiny izay nanome izay rehetra azony nomena noho ny fitiavany an’i Madagasikara sy ireo ankizy gasy nahazo tombony tamin’izany. Maro ny zavatra niarahana sy niainana na dia roa herinandro fotsiny ary, tao anatin’ny fihavanana tanteraka sy fifaliana ary fitiavana. Zavatra iray manokana tokoa ny CAMP FI satria dia manampy ny fahalalan’ireo ankizy amin’izay zavatra mety tsy hitany any am-pianarana na any an-tranony kanefa ilainy amin’ny fiainany. Azo tanisaina ohatra ny momba ny fitarihana (Leadership), ny fahalalana sy fampivoarana ny tena manokana (Personal development and self-knowledge), ny fiainana an-tarika (Group life) ary indrindra ny momba ny fitiavan-tanindrazana sy ny FIHAVANANA.

Naniry mafy tokoa moa ny tenako ny mbola ho isan’ny CAMP FI tamin’ity taona 2018 ity, kanefa noho ny antony manokana amin’ny adidy sy andraikitra dia tsy afaka nitondra anjara biriky. Hany hamaranako ny teniko ary dia ny firariana ny soa sy fahombiazana ho anareo izay hitondra ny CAMP FI 2018, mahereza rahalahy sy ranabavy isany. Misaotra manokana ihany koa an’ireo toko telon’ny CAMP FI dia i Jessica RAZANADRAKOTO, Laura PATTERZON ary Sophie CONNOT.

Meet the 2018 Camp Fi Team!

Camp Fi 2018 is just weeks away. Say hello to the incredible team that will make it happen!



Salut ! Je m'appelle RAKOTOANDRIANA Bao Tohin'Ny Aina mais on m'appelle Bao. J'ai 18 ans et je suis de Madagascar, habitant sa capitale Antananarivo. Actuellement je suis encore en première année en sciences sociales à l'Université Catholique de Madagascar, j'aimerai me rendre utile auprès du peuple malgache en aidant chacun à voir son potentiel à améliorer d'abord sa propre situation et par la suite celle de son entourage vivant dans la difficulté et ainsi chacun pourrait être un acteur de développement. Je suis une personne assez craintive et pourtant j'adore motiver les gens, c'est de cette façon que j'arrive aussi à surpasser mes craintes. Aussi j'aimerais pouvoir impacter la vie des gens de sorte qu'ils connaissent de changements positifs grâce à mon aide. Je suis une personne sérieuse tout comme je peux m'amuser à fond au moment opportun. La danse, le dessin et le photo sont mes passions, Je ne suis pas pro mais je m'y mets par pure envie. Et sinon je n'ai aucune notion en leadership mais j'espère en savoir davantage avec camp Fihavanana. J'ai hâte d'en faire partie.



I'm a believer in justice and building community. I'm so pumped to be a part of Camp Fi to learn and grow alongside young people to build a better future. Also, #ballislife so I'm thrilled to play a game or two with the campers :)




I was once told that if I had never been to Madagascar, the most beautiful place on earth, I have not lived. Until recently, I have been busy finishing my undergraduate studies, not giving me much time or money to travel the world. Now I have an incredible opportunity to go to Madagascar, and not just go, but to interact and work with some rad people. I am excited to learn about the culture, to meet aspiring youth, and to experience a culture different than my own. I'm sure great things are ahead.


Jacobin Ainatsiferana

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I am a fun and outgoing young man and I really enjoy encouraging people from different walks of life to achieve the goals that they have, and help create dreams for those who don't know what it's like to dream dreams. I enjoy getting to know people and hearing the stories they tell about their life experiences.

It is a great privilege and an honor for me to be a part of this amazing project, which aims to produce young adults who think for themselves, think outside the box, respect their surroundings, and seek to contribute to the growth of their communities, especially in the sense of “fihavanana.”


Jessica Razanadrakoto


Hi, my name is Jessica! This is my second year at camp and I am looking forward to meeting all the new campers this year. Let’s Go CampFi2018!


Laura Patterson

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I am so excited for Camp Fihavanana this year. After witnessing the incredible impact the program had on campers in 2017, I can hardly wait to get back to Madagascar again. Integrating sports, leadership skills, career readiness, and reflective activities is a rare opportunity for both students and staff. Because of our diverse curriculum, we are able to build confidence holistically in our campers. It is an honor to facilitate the program, witness the transformation, and be a part of the Fihavanana magic.

When I am not in Madagascar, I spend my time developing and executing programs for youth across North America for WE Schools. I like to spend my free time coaching lacrosse, practicing yoga, and going on adventures. I am so thrilled to be a part of the 2018 directing team and pumped to put on the second edition of Camp Fihavanana.


Océane Steffy Ramasimanana

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Je suis actuellement étudiante en Licence 1, filière Droit et Science Politique à l'Université Catholique de Madagascar.


Simon van Tulder


I'm a nerdy chemical engineer, I love my faith and I love helping people, exploring the outdoors, reading and my faith. I'm excited to for CampFi2018 to meet awesome people who will change my life (and hopefully I'll impact theirs too).


Sophie Connot


I'm a graphic designer with a special love for youth leadership development. I also love to cook, make things with my hands, and work with awesome students through Launch Leadership.

After supporting Camp Fi from the sidelines last year, I'm really excited to get in on the action in Madagascar this time around!

Tiavina Rakotonirina


My name is Tiavina but my friends call me by my nickname motul. I am 20 years old. I am a student at CNTEMAD University, studying  law. I have one brother who is 2 years younger than me. We come from and live in Moramanga, Madagascar. I like dancing, singing, playing basketball, and table tennis. My favorite dish is cassava leaves with pork. I do cherish helping people mainly those who are in trouble. I really enjoy watching NBA match on TV thus my favorite team is Golden State Warriors. I also enjoy watching British Broadcast Corporation world news on TV. I like having a lot of friends.