The first Creative Summer Arts Camp was held on July 15-19 in Marsh Harbour at the Island Waves Cultural Centre; the second camp was offered to Treasure Cay from July 29 to Aug. 2 at Headstart Academy; and the final one took place from Aug.12-16 in Sandy Point at James A. Pinder Primary School.
The camp was offered at no cost and was open to children between the ages of five to 12 years old.
According to Garnell Limperes-Dawkins, Island Waves founder, close to 33 students attended the Marsh Harbour camp daily, and news of the summer camp spread like wildfire throughout the Abaco community by word of mouth. After the camp began, parents were still signing up their children, some called the week after the camp was finished, while others wanted their younger children and teenagers to join.
“We had a range between 27 to 33 kids at the camp daily; three kids dropped out within the first two days. One family I think wasn’t in their comfort zone, which is why we want to do more travelling next year once we have an entire year to raise funds properly,” Garnell contemplated.
Nevertheless, 20 children were signed up for the camp in Treasure Cay, and more than 15 were confirmed in Sandy Point. Garnell is hopeful that she and her team can spread out to Green Turtle Cay and Hope Town next year if funds permit.
Overall, the first camp went very well thanks to her team of instructors: Zyandric Jones and Alexander Bain, Arts Instructors; Ozeke Greco Swain,Mixed Martial Arts Instructor; Joinel Jeune, Poetry/Creative Writing Instructor; Devon Green, Dance Instructor; Shanishka Bain-Cambridge, Wellness Instructor; Eric Cunningham, Guitar Instructor; Simmone L. Bowe, Vocal Instructor; and Ronel Escarment, Peer Leader/Teachers Aid.
“It was a bit hectic the first day. I had gotten sick Saturday evening, so all day Sunday I had some of the instructors helping me set up, and then on Monday I was mostly missing in action,” Garnell shared. “But the team worked very well together to keep the program running smoothly, and by Tuesdayeverything started to sort itself out. For the most part, everything was extremely successful; the week went by very quickly.”
However, the next time around, Garnell hopes that full funding is in place, and that the Centre can provide healthy snacks and food for the campers.
“That way, we won’t spend so much time trying to calm the kids down after they eat, or don’t have to slow the pace down because they are sluggish after a filling lunch. I would also like to do more “field trips” away from the Centre itself as Island Waves is about the community on the whole, and not about revolving around us,” Garnell said.
Some suggestions from parents were for instructors to wear name tags, designate more group time in the mornings so campers could become more familiar with each other; and splitting the children into age groups or smaller groups to easily move them around to each station.
Of all the activities offered, the younger children appeared to enjoy the water colouring, beach combing and art with Instructors Alexander and Zyandric, whereas the older children were more focused on creative writing and poetry with Joinel. As expected, everyone loved the Mixed Martial Arts taught by Ozeke, the dance routines with Devon, singing and music with Simmone Bowe and Eric Cunningham, and even the Wellness and Nutrition presentation with Shanishka Bain-Cambridge.
She noted: “All of this comes with funding – once the funds are in place, there would be no issue giving a little compensation to the instructors for their time, for getting the materials, and for making the camp a more ‘legit’ program. I think a lot of this will come with awareness and word of mouth from both the parents and the campers as well as the instructors.”
Speaking of awareness, the Abaco community is definitely more aware of Island Waves accomplishments.
“I think a lot of people knew that we existed, but didn’t really know what we were about. Many thought it was just a hang out spot. Some thought we only taught music classes. Others thought it was an art school. We do a lot of different things here at the Centre,” Garnell informed. “The camp is a way to showcase our instructors, who have been assisting, and who will be assisting in various programs throughout the year here at the Centre.
“We offer dance classes, tutoring classes, a Poetry and Creative Writing night, Jam Out Night, Creative Kids Corner on Saturdays, Empowerment Workshops, a Community Garden, and much more. We actually have a lot to offer, but until the funds all start to fall into place, there’s only so much that can be accomplished.”
Garnell was grateful for the donations by locals or people passing through the area who liked what they were doing with the youth and the community as a whole. Still, there is a great need for more local involvement where people have a genuine interest in their families.
While she recognized that times are difficult, and people are working extra hard to make ends meet, the Centre provides a middle ground for people to seek job training and employment opportunities.
“It’s little things like this that can go a long way. Picture how much you can save on groceries if you grew your own tomatoes, onions, herbs, carrots, etc. The more people get involved, and say ‘Yes, I benefit from the services,’ the more the word will get out, the more people will get involved, and pitch in to keep the facilities running,” Garnell envisioned. “It’s not about one or two people; it’s about all of us – we make the Centre.
“This, I feel, is only the beginning. This is our first year outreaching in the communities with what we have to offer at the Centre, and so far, so good.”