Free-range chicken soup

Here we start a brand new camp season. Everytime this time of the year arrives I always ask myself, Why? Why are we doing this? Why are we spending so much energy, time, money in meetings and programs?
I guess it is good to start this way (some might say it is to feed my “half empty” way of seeing life) but I call it the “healthy way” of doing things. This way we get to evaluate what we do and see the value of it, meanwhile we add or dismiss things that are there just for tradition.
And that is where we, the Program Committee, started this year, asking the right questions to the things we do, to keep the good things and dismiss the not valuable ones.
Lets talk about our training weekends, for example. In previous years, they consisted of picking up our kids in Bastion and taking them to camp. We would invite them to go to camp and sit, be served, be taught, informed and then go back to Bastion or Sauces. That was not bad, but there was something missing: hand work.
So this year we thought we would invite our staff to get closer to the needs going on in their surroundings.
And so this camp season trainings are full of expectation and energy.
On september 28th we had our first one. We went to a place called Las Jaguitas, a small community located 3 hours away from Guayaquil, in the countryside of another province called Manabi. There we spent a whole day painting, cutting grass, making benches out of bamboo and sharing some time with the people from the community and with kids that were part of the last camp season.
We woke up at 4 a.m in the morning and made it to the terminal to catch the bus that would take us to the place. We got there at 9 a.m and we were invited to have a little breakfast. Yes, rice with steak and a small bolón (smashed plantain) with a family next to the church. They knew some of us, and they had heard about us from the kids that went to camp. Although most of us were strangers we were invited like family to share the little they had with us.
The kids were all over the place, giggling, hiding from us and talking about camp, how they miss it and remembering games and people.
We worked all day, the heat was awful (I think I got the idea of what the gringos feel when they come down here in the hottest season), but yet we finished our work before lunch.
We brought food along with us to cook there, we brought rice (of course) and tuna. The girls from the community offered themselves to cook for us and when we got to eat, they had made soup, chicken soup. They took one of their chickens and made soup for us. One of their chickens for us.
Though it might seem like nothing, it is a big deal. You make pollo criollo (free-range chicken) for special people, for people that are close to you. You see, this chicken was grown to share it with beloved ones, yet they shared that with us. That is love.
We left that place, we had thought we were gonna do some work, but really the work was done on us. Yes we painted some fences, cut some grass, made some benches, but mostly we were loved.
At the end this is what we are looking for: love. At the end this is what our kids go to camp looking for: love. At the end the whole idea of camp is all about: love. Giving and receiving: love.