The holiday season brought plenty of work for Dan and Katharine Harris, as they helped over 70 children through a summer camp in Quito, Ecuador. Katharine reports:

These last couple of months have been a busy time at the Niños con Destino (Children with Destiny) project, as over 70 children aged 5–18 years attended our summer camp. Most days we had between 40 and 50. The holiday club involves lots of different activities, including football, floorball, crafts, puppet shows/theatre, dance and mime, devotionals, skipping ropes, swimming, computing and more.

Image of two boys skippingThe children come for the entire day. Many of the regulars have gone away to visit family in other parts of the country. But those who remain brought friends and cousins along, so there’s a great opportunity to work with some new faces.

This camp has been about having fun, but we have put a strong emphasis on continuing the children’s education during the summer too. Many of the children are behind in school years, so we wanted to promote a positive attitude towards learning and help them to start the new school year well. Some time each day has been given over to school support through fun, interactive lessons. These included science, English, reading, maths, first aid and social sciences.

Image of children looking for spiders in the long grassDan ran the science lessons. These have included counting spiders (sampling) and fire (solid, liquid and gas particles). They used a camp stove to heat up a block of ice, and the children watched the ice change into water, before evaporating. The children loved it! After a while, the children were lining up to join in Dan’s lessons and they started to realise that learning can be fun.

I have been doing the reading lessons. I’m really passionate about teaching the children to read, as I can’t imagine how tough life must be for those who can’t read. (Although the national literacy rate for adults is supposedly around 93%, I have met a huge number of adults who cannot read.) Many of the children aged up to 11 who attend the project can’t read, so I am determined to play a part in turning this round for these children.

At first, the children weren’t keen on the idea of reading in their school holidays. ‘But the holidays aren’t for studying…’ Gradually, however, they realised that learning can be fun, as we played lots of reading games. My hope was that by the end of the holidays, they’d understand that reading can be for pleasure – not just for school. One of the things I did in the camp was to create a ‘Reading corner’, where the children could lie on cushions on the floor to read. They liked the space to relax and often asked if they could read to me.

Image of children and staff at Ninos con DestinoI also ran the puppet show/theatre sessions. During one week we painted a backdrop for puppet shows, and the following week we made finger puppets and acted out the story of Noah and the flood. It was chaotic but hilarious… and the children had lots of fun too!

Each day, we also had devotionals, where the children sang songs, heard stories from the Bible and learned memory verses.

As part of the summer camp, we have also taken the children on lots of day trips. These have included a trip to a volcano and lagoon, the Quito planetarium, a volcano national park, a swimming pool and an ice rink. Through some of these experiences, they have learned more about their country and its wildlife.

All in all, it’s been a fantastic time that has helped the children to grow in their knowledge of the world and the Word.