My first trip to Poland was what jump started my love for this place. It was a trip where nothing went as expected, but everything happened as it should have. I learned to roll with what was given to me and make it work.
So, here’s the story. When we first arrived at the camp, our room arrangements were definitely not what we had imagined. We’d thought we were going to have to share a room with maybe one or two other women. Nope, make that all seven of us. In bunkbeds. One room. One bathroom. Wow, really, God? It was trying at times, but we were forced to be unselfish the whole week.
The next challenge was responsibilities around camp. Our team, being the largest, was in charge of cleaning up after meals, then booking it to the meeting hall to hype up the kids with a dance in the evenings. We also had guard duty (there are places accessible for adults, but not to the kids) and workshops.
The workshop I was helping to lead was a singing one. I’ve got a gift for it, and I enjoy teaching, so naturally, I thought I’d do alright. Can I say, I’m so grateful for Anna (pictured above to the far right). She taught me a ton about how to make singing accessible to these kids and have fun doing it. I was really out of my element a bit, but she was a great help!
The first day, I was by myself with two or three of the younger girls who didn’t speak any Polish. I pretty much only got their names by pointing at myself, saying mine, then pointing to them. I had to do that about twice before I heard them right. Once Anna arrived with some of the other girls, all eyes were on me to start the lessons. I’m not trained professionally, so I had to wrack my brain for some vocal warm ups and exercises that I’d used. I think they liked the siren and the hissing breaths the most. Anna taught them the ‘Kiwi, Banana, Mango’ warm-up to get them used to parts.
Throughout the week, we practiced these exercises and worked on our two songs we’d be presenting to the whole camp at the end of the week. I’d see them outside of workshops and we’d smile and say hello to each other. We gave hugs and I even helped coach two of the girls that wanted to solo for the talent show. They did fantastic, by the way.
My last day at camp was really bittersweet because there were a lot of tears. I’d bonded with these girls, giving advice, loving on them through the week and encouraging their efforts. They’re gratitude really struck me. I thought my contribution was not that great, but for them, it was a huge deal that I’d come all the way from the US to teach them this skill and befriend them in the process. I’m so glad I met them and God knew what he was doing when he pointed me to go on this trip.
Jadzia, Karolina, Bianca, Natalia, Paulina and Marisha: keep on singing and I hope we see each other again soon!