In 2011, I went to Ghana to do my first reading camp. By the end of the week I looked like I had been left in the jungle for twelve hours. My eyes were red from crying, my body was soaked with sweat, my skin had a heavy tan line, and my hair was so frizzy due to the humidity that I looked like Oprah with a tangled Afro. Emotionally, this year I wasn’t as sad as I was three years ago. Rather than feel sad about leaving, I felt happier about a successful camp and how the small things we do can impact many. Though I was sad about not being able to see my old and new friends for a while, I was happy that they were safe, healthy, and in God’s care.

JackieAnother big difference between my two trips was the day itself. Three years ago, on Friday there was a graduation ceremony for the preschools. There were professional dancers, drums, little five year olds in purple robes, and umbrellas due to the inconsistent rain. Despite the celebration and excitement, the day didn’t really focus too much on the reading camp kids. Friday was more targeted towards the kids that we didn’t teach for the last five days. It was a nice celebration, but too many things were happening that day. This year we had a mini singing assembly where each class would sing a song that they learned in camp. The assembly got everyone so involved and pumped up about being here that there was no room left for any sad thoughts.

The one thing that never changes is when you drive out of the school for the last time and you see those children give you their final farewell. Three years ago my old student Sarah waved me good bye. Today Sarah, now twelve and too old to go to reading camp, came back in the end just before we were leaving to say good bye to me. It’s nice to know that what you did years ago made an impact on these kids.