There was so much more to camp than you can possibly imagine. I think the young women who attended the camp got a lot out of it and didn’t mind too much that they lost one day of camp. But the staff was another story. It, of course, started with the suitcase episode and progressed from there. The NGO had no intention of teaching a single class they had committed to and expected to be treated like royalty.
The PCV leadership staff consists of six people. A senior and junior programming coordinator, a senior and junior communications coordinator and a senior and junior sustainability coordinator. First glitch: the senior communications coordinator left service early and so was not available for camp. However, she had trained her junior well. So now our team is down to five people along with a Host Country National (HCN) who is to work with the counseling staff. We don’t see much of her as she is working with the campers and their counselors and leaving administrative stuff to the five of us. Programming is committed to making sure that classes happen and that campers are getting what we promised. Communications needs to take pictures, handle phone calls from parents, call parents for sick campers, coordinate all camp programs, make sure needed classroom equipment is functioning. Sustainability gets everything else–buying and stocking supplies, handing out supplies, managing the snack store, all logistics–toilet needs a plunger, room is too hot, water is not any good–go buy enough for 120 people. We also have to track all expenses and do a complete inventory of everything we have. In the middle of all this, the printer refuses to work so we have to go out to get prints of handouts for classes and put money on phones because we are all using up all of our credit and we can’t afford to be out of touch–especially with this “epidemic” on our hands.
Senior programming coordinator Grace is outstanding! She is continually in action and everyone loves her. However, her junior coordinator became basically a no show. She was good at leading songs at meal time but that was all she did! She complained about the food and did nothing but whine about the limited internet access. She had to leave the building to get it. Guess what, we all did but that was a chance for us to take a break. Apparently she wanted to talk to her boyfriend all the time. And she was notably absent from the office. Our assumption was that she was attending classes. Nope! We’d pop in our room to get something and she would be asleep in there or reading her kindle. And when asked if she would lead the evening meeting, her response was “I’d rather not.” Now programming is the lead coordinator on this project so she needs to be ready to lead at a moment’s notice. And because we had to let an instructor go at the last minute she needed to step in to teach those classes. Nope! Grace ended up doing it. And when she showed up for a meeting, if it was scheduled to be over at 10.15 she just got up and left without saying a word to anyone at 10.15 I’ve never seen a poorer example of leadership. She refused to be part of the “nursing squad” and went to bed. “I don’t do sick people.” We don’t want you to “do” sick people we just want someone to make sure there are no emergencies. Sit outside the room! She actually commented to one of the counselors that is her “friend” that if she could have, she would have left the second day of camp. As it was, when we closed camp, everyone was told they could leave if they wanted or stay behind and relax. She and her friend were the only ones to leave. She wasn’t even there for the debrief with PC staff.
Now let’s move to the medical personnel. She’s young and pregnant. She has barely finished medical school. We also have a psychologist who is 24 years old and is walking around in her Daisy Duke type shorts. First order of business–no short shorts or halter tops. We must set the example for these young women. Next we had the water issue. It really frustrated me. Do you really believe that a very expensive private school would be permitted to operate if the water was unsafe to drink? But we did as requested and came back with about 100 liters of water. That is a lot of water! The doctor is still insisting that the girls are getting sick because of the water. And we are generating a huge amount of waste with these bottles. The doctor continually requested medications for the girls and was taking them to the clinic in Tetovo for “infusions” of vitamins. Once she decided it was a virus she started handing out antibiotics. Umm, I think those don’t work on viruses–only bacterial infections, but then I’m not a doctor so what do I know? I really think they tend to overmedicate in this country. And when the doctor was gone, the psychologist was dispensing medications per her instructions over the phone. An absolute No-No! But now we are running out of water. Stacie, bless her heart, suggests we collect the empty bottles and go to the local well and fill up the bottles. The school had one of the drivers take her to the well and they filled up probably 15 jugs. But this still was not good enough for the doctor. However, by now, we have had a number of girls taken to the clinic and the health department has been notified of the epidemic at Wilson School. In come the people in white coats. The first piece of good news is that we have clean water. It is perfectly safe to drink. However, they recommend that we have hand sanitizer all over he place. I stand at the beginning of the chow line and squirt everyone with hand sanitizer before letting them get their food. All of this education and commitment to social justice and I’m reduced to hand squirter. We do what we have to do.
Then we have a couple of the counselors–actually just one, who stays up half the night and then sleeps away the day. Fortunately each group has two counselors so there is someone to be with the girls at all times. When the counselor is forced to come to a meeting, she falls asleep and has to be told to wake up multiple times. I don’t think she will be back next year.
And then we find out that the NGO has been pilfering some of our “in kind” donations. A popular snack company in the country gave us cookies, chips, candy, snack items, cereal, pudding and soup. At the end of the week, the kitchen put the left overs out for us to take with us. Hmmmm. What happened to the pudding and the soup? It was never served nor was it in the “leftovers”. That is when we found out that they had been taking boxes up to their room. And, of course, they very conveniently departed while we were in our debrief meeting so we couldn’t monitor what they were taking home with them.
Truly a camp story for the ages.