The first camp ever
The TICKET TO LIFE is a flagship project of the Asia-Pacific Region on educating street children, through Scouting. The project exist in eight pilot countries. Taking advantage of the summer holidays, the Scout Troop, under the APR Ticket to Life Project, located in Malate, Manila has organized their first Camp from 21-23 April 2009 at the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) Camp, Mt. Makiling, Los Baños, Laguna.
The camp staff was composed of my wife, Sophie Castillo, Derek Bonifacio and his wife, Cynthia, who was our Camp Grubmaster and myself. We went to Mt. Makiling on two different batches and we arrived first at the camp. We immediately started cooking rice for the Scouts. Their viand or main dish was pre-cooked the night before, which is chicken “adobo.”
The 15 Scouts arrived around lunchtime. These are children living in the streets of Malate. They arrived with the Scoutmaster, Jeffrey Alitagtag together with our collaborators from Our Lady of Remedies Parish (Malate Church), composed of Fr. Enrique Escobar, Teacher Beth, and Ate Angel.
While we were cooking the rice, Jeffrey gave the Orientation and Camp Routine to the Scouts. The 15 children were divided into three Patrols of five Scouts. After this session, the Scouts had a hearty lunch – they finished all food! Perhaps because they were too excited to come to Mt. Makiling and were not able to eat breakfast.
We had a simple Opening Ceremony by reciting the Scout Oath and Law, an Opening Remarks was given by Fr. Enrique and Remarks was also made by Sophie.
After the Opening Ceremony, the Scouts were divided into three bases and reviewed basic knots such as – overhand knot, figure-of-eight knot, clove hitch, bowline, sheep shank and timber hitch. Used to using “tagalog” in their day-to-day living, you should listen to them call these knots in many different ways! But in the end, they know their knots! We had an exciting knot relay to review what they learned. It was so noisy . . . the Scouts were cheering and coaching their team mates!
Towards the end of the day, the Scouts learned basic first aid from Derek and Sophie. To review what they learned, they identified one Scout among them who has a wound and applied first aid to his wound.
After dinner, we asked Fr. Enrique to facilitated a self-reflection. It was an interesting activity. It revealed much about the Scouts. Fr. Enrique asked the Scouts to draw members of the families, with an instruction – “to draw close to you, if you like or love this family member and draw away from you if you dislike or hate this family member.”
There were then divided into two groups. Teacher Beth and I facilitated one group and we tried to draw-out from the Scouts the real reason or meaning of their drawings. I am particularly filled with awe with the difficult circumstances these children are experiencing – at a very tender age! Majority of them are beaten up by their parents – most of them are their step fathers. One of the Scouts even drew a person with horns . . . I asked this Scout who would this person be and he answered me without hesitation, “my evil brother!” Every time his elder brother gets drunk, he lashes it out with this Scout.
On the second day, we had our flag ceremony at the main flag mast in Mt. Makiling. I have been with Scouting in the Philippines for more than 10 years but it is only now that I learned that the main flag mast at Mt. Makiling was donated by the officers and crew of U.S.S. Bryce Canyon (AD-36).
The flag ceremony was simple. The Scouts proudly raised the Philippine Flag and pledged allegiance to it. They recited the Scout and Law. Until now, Fr. Enrique could not believe how these Scouts follow a certain standard – a certain norm. A Columban Sister by the name of Sr. Venus, joined in the morning from Manila.
We gave the Scouts instructions on how to use the compass. After being familiar with how the compass works, we staged a competition among the Patrols. They also tried the Challenge Valley at Mt. Makiling. They were full of energy and surpassed every challenge without any difficulty. Each one tried to surpass each other. We were looking for their esprit d’corps and we were missing it perhaps this is because this was their very first camp.
After lunch, we teached them bandaging and emergency transport. It is most interesting when the Scouts learn how to make a makeshift or improvised stretcher. Again, we had a contest among the Patrols. We designated a starting point and end point and place a glass of water on the victim’s chest. They need to transport the “victim” at the shortest time without the water in the glasses getting slipped.
We teached the Scouts how to handle, care for, and use the pocket knife, ax, and saw – based on the Boy Scouts of America’s “Totin’ Chip.”
On the third day, everybody was up and excited! This was hiking and swimming day! However, since our theme was, “Towards Unity,” we prepared a little surprise for the Scouts. As I earlier said, they were divided into three patrols. When we served breakfast, we un-evenly distributed their viand or main dish. Each Scout should get a slice of meat but we gave extra slice of meat to one Patrol while the other lack one.
It is very interesting how the Patrol which lack one slice of meat divided what they have among themselves, while the one with the extra slice did not share it with others. They did not even asked each other.
After our flag ceremony, Derek facilitated a team-building exercise called “caterpillar walk.” They are beginning to learn unity and communication. They went on a hike and at the end the Scouts cooked their own food – inihaw na tilapia (grilled tilapia).
After the morning routine of the fourth day, we asked them to clean-up the place. I was late and took the shower after they cleaned the placed. I was enjoying my shower . . . the showers smells so good and was so clean! Thanks to the Scouts.
After breaking camp and packing their thing up, we had a small evaluation. The Scouts enjoyed all the activities. The staff, however, left words of wisdom. Bernand expressed that he has a mind set about what “street children” behave and looked like. He said that he never saw this in the Scouts. It was a gratifying comment. And I particularly told the Scouts that I understand what they were going through. I was once beaten up by my father for cheating my mother. I did not understand then why I was beaten up but it stuck to my mind that it is important to be honest.
We had a simple Closing Ceremony and we ate our last meal in camp. At lunch time, I told Ate Angel to inform us whenever parents expressed changes in their children. She confirmed that some parents have already expressed better behavior observed from their children. We are, indeed, getting there . . .
To know more about the Asia-Pacific Region (APR) Ticket to Life Project, please click here.