The passing of time, and consequent increase of comfort at camp, has resulted in the campers’ personalities really shining through over the past two weeks. Whether this means that the children are more pensive or loud, disciplined or distracting, it says that the campers are being more like themselves. Of course, every camper is unique in how they express their personality, but at the same time, they do gravitate towards certain types.
Perhaps the most inspiring of these are the children who, despite how difficult Arabic can be at early stages, have become more diligent and invested over the past two weeks. Partially, it shows their personal interest in the language, which also shows that they have good taste. At a deeper level though, I think it indicates their intellectual curiosity. I saw a bit of this the first few days, but around the end of last week it became very apparent who had this extra desire to understand Arabic. Those kids just sought more Arabic, like extra worksheets or practice time for writing. And when they learn new vocabulary, they have this look of satisfaction.
Just as there are linguists, some of the kids are just artists. At the beginning of the camp I did not really see those campers as much, partially because I was not in art class, but also because the youngins were shy about their drawings and paintings. Now, as they have become less nervous, the artists actually started showing their creations to the other counselors and me. Like when the youngest group had to decorate old photographs to look like celebrities, they wanted us older folks to see what they had made.
Then there are the jokers. Not that I have favorites, per se, but I feel a profound connection with the shabab who spend all their time trying to make someone laugh. As someone who used to spend his time joking throughout the school-day, I see a bit of myself in them. And every class has a few children who are really, really funny. A goofy example of this is the youngest group who while playing butta, butta, asad–our own version of duck, duck, goose that actually translates to “duck, duck, lion”–found so much comic pleasure in the similarity of butta and a word that everyone finds funny. Again, I know this a stupid example of how funny the children can be, but it is what first comes to my mind, and one of the things that has consistently made me laugh over the past few days.
My only regret in all of this is that there are only a few days left, and I will not get to see their progress after the end of the week. That said, it has been a pleasure seeing their personalities come out over the past two weeks.
Kenyon College, ’14
Summer Intern at Al Bustan