English Creates Opportunities (ECO) Camp was created by the U.S. Embassy for rural Nicaraguan kids who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford a weeklong camp studying English. For several months we promoted the camp and designed classes.
Half of the counselors at the ECO Camp were Peace Corps Volunteers and the other half were Nicaraguan teachers. This made it more similar to the normal classes that I teach in my service.
U.S. Embassy events are much more student-oriented, though, trying to give more opportunities to Nicaraguan youth as well as improve relations between the two countries. So few Nicaraguan children have ever experienced a camp setting. So when their week was complete, there were so many tears.
The Counselors of ECO Camp
Classes were divided into a few categories:
- Environmental Studies - learning about the problems of pollution and littering. They learned about biodiversity and ecosystems.
- Cultural Studies - primarily talked about cultural diversity, comparing aspects of countries around the world with the U.S. and Nicaragua
- Civics - comparing the structures of American and Nicaraguan governments.
Another favorite activity was the Reading Club. We sat in rocking chairs on the patio and took turns reading paragraphs from Tom Sawyer in English. Then, as a group, we discussed different aspects each evening.
I taught the American Civics class, We talked about elections and held one of our own! The students campaigned for the office of President, created platforms about real Nicaraguan issues, and then everyone voted. It was lots of fun for everyone! The kids loved it!
I got really good reviews, which leads me to believe I was on the right track!!
I loved being part of this camp and would really like to try to help create more camps like this for the Nicaraguan youth. They were so excited to learn and experience everything we had to offer.
It was an enormously gratifying experience!