A few weeks ago we finished our multi-cultural, tri-lingual camp. We had 71 campers and 10 adult helpers. While we were low on American young people and on the local deaf population, the camp was still a great success and it accomplished the purposes we have in sponsoring this camp each year at Easter time. Starting Thursday of Easter week, people started arriving early for the beginning of our week of camp. We had young people coming from the villages in the countryside, from the capital city of Bogotá, and from the churches here in Villavicencio. The scout troop from the church also participated, and brought over 40 young people. We had only two deaf couples and two other deaf individuals, as the people who had accepted the job of publicizing and promoting the camp both had personal or family issues that kept them from doing the job they would have liked to have done. Still, we had enough Americans and enough deaf to make sure there was a significant multi-cultural and multi-lingual element to our camp. In this way we were certain to increase cultural awareness and intercultural skills.

Every meeting was organized in such a way as to have speakers from each of three different cultural and linguistic groups: Spanish, English, and sign language. The latter included both American Sign Language and Colombian as well. We had each speaker’s message translated into the other three languages simultaneously so that everyone was exposed to the different languages and cultural manners of teaching. We worked so that every person could at very least learn to greet others in three or four languages, depending on the language of the person being greeted.

For talent night, each team that included a deaf person in their presentation received extra points. In that way they had to figure out how to communicate and organize their skip including a person with whom they had a limited ability to communicate. In spite of this, it all came out very, very well and we had a great time. A deaf Goliath was a huge hit as a speaking/hearing “David” took him down. The audience roared their approval as the skit was very well done.

As the week ended, everyone was excited by the time together and already asking about the next one. The camp did an excellent job in raising deaf awareness and intercultural communication skills. Everything had gone very well in spite of early problems that had cropped up and had threatened the camp. The camp was great fun and everyone left with the thrill of discovery and the desire to do more to get to know and interact with others different from oneself.

Next year, if you are free at Easter time, consider coming down and helping with and/or participating in our multicultural, tri-lingual camp! It will be a rewarding and an enriching experience that you will enjoy very much.