Fun in the Colombian sun!

 

 

Imagine if you have never been able to see the ocean.  Never splashed in a wave, built a sandcastle or searched for crabs.  Imagine if you had never seen a dolphin, been on a boat, stayed in a hotel or eaten at a restaurant.

Many people in the world have not had these experiences; but 20 boys that I know decided to make their dream a reality.

For the past two years I have worked at an orphanage in Colombia, South America.  I am a house parent to twenty boys between the ages of five and fourteen.  These boys do not have parents to look after them, so they live in an orphanage.  They have missed out on many great experiences that we enjoy as children in our country, so when they said that they would like to go to the beach I helped them come up with a project.

One of the boys knew how to make pretty cool wrist bands.  They are made by tying simple knots with different coloured thread.  I suggested to him to teach the other boys, and I promised to sell the bands to my friends back home.  With the money that they raised we would hopefully get to the beach.

 

 

I am Australian, and I have worked at Camp Carolina for the past 8 summers.  I started as a lifeguard, and then moved to Head Lifeguard, Head Counselor, and for the past few years I have been in the Infirmary.  I have made some great friends along the way; and I knew that all my friends would be willing to support our Beach Trip Project.

Once that they boys were making wrist bands I sent the bands to Australia and the USA.  My friends bought bags and bags and bags of bands, which they gave away as gifts.  We did very well, but just before camp last year I had A LOT of bands left over.  We had raised about $3000, leaving us about $2000 short.

I talked to Alfred and Mary Eccles about our trip, and they were happy for camp to support our project.  Alfred and Mary Eccles allowed me to put the bands in the camp store, and the bands sold like hotcakes.  The campers loved the cool bands, and they were also happy to be helping the boys in the orphanage achieve their goal.

Thanks to the generosity of CCB staff and campers I made the shortfall for our trip, and was able to return to Colombia with exactly enough money to make the trip a reality.

In September of 2010 twenty boys, and two adults, set out on the trip of their lives.  They travelled the 18 hour road trip to the beach city of Cartagena, where they arrived early one morning to the majestic sight of the sun rising over the ocean.  The boys charged out of the bus and onto the cool early morning sand, as they stared in awe at the endless ocean before them.  Timidly they waded into the water, until out of left field came running one Little Jon, who crashed through the surf and dived into the crystal clear water.  Behind him 20 boys did the same, and enjoyed their first swim in the ocean.

 

 

The trip lasted one week, and we enjoyed staying in hotels and eating in restaraunts.  The highlight of the trip for most of the boys was seeing their first dolphin, swimming in the beach, and snorkelling around chasing fish.

 

 

I’d like to thank Alfred, Mary Eccles and the Camp Carolina staff and campers who helped make this dream become a reality.  Your generosity allowed for twenty boys to have the trip of their lives, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  As we were on the trip I thought about Camp Carolina, and the many trips that I enjoyed there; and I couldn’t help but feel that this was just another Camp Carolina trip, but the Ultimate Camp Carolina trip, for kids who would have never had the opportunity had it not been for the generosity of others.

 

 

 

Little Jon

Waterdogs 2003-2006

Manders 2007

Infirmary 2008-2010

4 Comments Add yours

  1. JJ Shepherd says:

    Great to see the pictures from this amazing trip. I think boys smiling faces in the final picture says it all! Great Job Little Jon.

  2. mezza says:

    I’m so proud to call you a friend, LJ. You’re an inspiration to us all xoox

  3. Angela Vargas says:

    Hello LJ; My son is Colombian, and would be for the first time at Camp Carolina, his name is Martin Sarassa
    I am so touch to hear that there is people like you in the wolrd.
    Let us know any time, if you need any help for this kids!!!
    I hope you have a great sumer at CCB

    1. Little Jon says:

      Thankyou for responding to my blog. I will be in Colombia later this year visiting the orphanage. Maybe I could meet your family in Colombia? I will be in Pereira, and will be taking the kids to Bogota for a weekend. you can email me at howesjon@hotmail.com – I trust that Martin with have an amazing summer at CCB! I’m sorry that I wont meet him there…but maybe in Colombia – mi tierra querida! LJ.

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