YMCA Ukraine Summer Camp

Camp life is going well! We’ve figured out the Ukrainian camp routine and the kids have gotten used to having us around. At first we thought that most of them did not speak English but have now found out that a lot of them do! We’ve been able to go off on our own to talk with groups of them without the aid of our translator, Hannah.

Yesterday started off pretty warm and before heading to the lake we had a volleyball tournament with the older kids. Unfortunately Sarah nor I are very good and both of our teams lost.

After having it pour yesterday afternoon and having swimming cancelled, I finally got the chance to teach my first swimming lesson. It went very well. There were about eight kids, not being sure what level of swimming they were capable of I started out with just simply blowing bubbles and putting our faces into the water. Surprisingly, almost all of them could do this without any problem. They are so excited about learning to swim that if it’s nice out again later this afternoon they want to have another lesson and have them continue on until the end of camp. – Danielle


Wow! I can’t believe how different camp life is here! Although it took some getting used to (less regulated bed times, extremely flexible schedules etc…), I am finally starting to feel like I am at home again! When we first got to camp, both Danielle and I were very anxious about how things were going to play out.

The first day was a bit rocky (as most camp days are), especially since nobody knew who we were, and were too shy to speak to us in English. The second day was a bit better, but everyone was still a bit reserved (including us). On the third day (yesterday) we had a big break through! In the afternoon, it started to rain, so we were confined to our tents/shelters; the younger kids were doing origami, and I asked Marta if it would be ok if we showed them how to make Paper Fortune Tellers. She was very pleased, and we got right to it, showing the kids how to fold, while Hannah translated our instructions.

The kids were so excited! We played with our Fortune Tellers for a few minutes, again, getting Hannah to translate the fortunes inside for us, but after a while, the kids forgot their shyness, and began to speak with us in English. Although there is still a big language barrier (especially with less common words and phrases), kids are very keen to practice their English skills with us. Some have even brought out their dictionaries and pocket translators from school so we can communicate together.

Later in the day, I taught the whole camp how to play a game called Beaver Tails – a variation of British Bulldog that I play with Outreach quite often. Everyone was so excited! We played for a good hour, challenging the kids to see who would be the last to get caught. At the end of the last game, I had almost all of the kids coming up to me individually thanking me for showing them how to play. It was very welcoming, and reminded me that even though we are not in Canada anymore, kids everywhere will have fun doing the same things.

I am looking forward to building stronger relationships with the campers here, and being able to share all I have learned with everyone back home! -Sarah