In July, 13 Hove Park students went to Ecuador with Camps International on a life-changing trip.
The trip consisted of digging 29 foundation holes, more cement being mixed and poured than I can count, 6,000 bricks moved, a whole school being painted, 10 English lessons being taught by our students, alpacas, boat trips, pan pipe making, football matches, mountain climbing, over 30 games of Uno and temperatures ranging from 2 to 32 degrees with altitudes of up to 2,600m. Yet this does not even begin to cover what an experience the trip was.
As a group we travelled first to Camp Esmeraldas, in the town of Chura, then to Camp Kuri Kucho in the mountains. Our third week was the adventure week where we trekked over 4,000 metres up mountains. Finally in our last week we went to Camp Amazonia by the Rio Blanco. One of the biggest difficulties we had was the heat while we worked in at Camp Esmeraldas. One afternoon that really sticks in my mind was the ‘Cement Squad’ day. In the school playground were 30 wheelbarrows of gravel, a stack of 50kg bags of cement and 7 shovels. 7 of us donned wellies and volunteered to mix cement, little did we know that it would be continuous cement mixing for 3 hours. It was at times challenging, but the motivation and determination of the students was astounding, not one person gave up and everyone else rallied around supplying us with water and sunscreen.
Throughout the trip the group grew and developed as they faced new challenges and went to different communities. I had the great pleasure with the rest of the leadership group, to have praise heaped on us at every place we went due to the way the students conducted themselves. The impact these 13 young adults made to the lives of the people they met and helped was huge. I know personally this trip will stay with me for ever and it was amazing to see how much the 13 students who I met in the school gym on the 1st July became proud, respectful young adults with leadership skills and wills of iron.