Cherries On Top

Before the first day of camp Jessica and I sat down and discussed our goals for Camp Fihavanana. WHAT is the point? Why are we doing this? What do we hope to create for the next two weeks. I have an incredible friend who oversees another camp. He always says, "our goals this week are to be safe and have fun," everything else is a cherry on top. So I said, this is our first time ever running camp. We can't set our sights too high. This could be a disaster, this could flop, lets be careful--let's be safe, let's have fun. 

Jess looked up from her plate, and I could tell behind her eyes she was begging me to say more. We created Camp Fihavanana in 2015 because we wanted young people in her home town to have a good time at summer camp. Yes. AND we created Camp Fihavanana in 2015 because the leadership skills we learned playing sports in the United States have been invaluable to us since. It was through sports we learned perseverance, dedication, failure, resilience, boldness, communication, compromise, teamwork, hope. Especially hope. The belief in the impossible. The belief that things can be different. Just because we lost to that team last time, DOES NOT mean it has to be that way again. We can change things. What is in our control, what is out of our control? Where should we focus our energy? How can we make things different? Asking questions, focusing our energy, being creative when we play--all because we have hope that next time we play things will be different. Especially if we are focused and intentional. 

We carry this mindset into all of our work. This is the mindset Sophie saw fostered at a summer program called Launch through hands on activities, art, and creativity. We created Camp Fihavanana to merge these two means of developing leadership skills in young people. We created it especially for the young people in Jessica's hometown of Moramanaga, Madagascar. Where things like hunger, poverty, and corruption are very normal, and things like higher education and transformation are rare. We created Camp Fihavanana to encourage young people to believe in a different future for their country.

We have been playing sports each morning for a week now, and each afternoon we run activities to push foster teamwork and leadership skills. This Friday afternoon we had a conversation about all of the issues they see around them. They named corruption, greed, deforestation, discrimination, lack of education, sexism, racism, pollution, and power. They shared stories where they've seen these things at work destroying the land, ruining opportunities, and messing up Madagascar. As they left camp to go home that afternoon they each made a commitment to take responsibility for some of these things. They made commitments like picking up trash when it was left on the ground, spreading love, help others, and mentoring younger kids in Moramonga. Commitments to have an open mind, to work with others , and become leaders. These are our cherries on top--cherries on top of a week that was a lot of fun and had just a few scraped knees. And for this I am so grateful. 

Thank you all for following our journey and supporting us on our mission. We have another week of Camp Fihavanana left, and I can't wait to see what magic happens. 

In love and gratitude, 

Laura