Summer Camp!

Peace Corps loves summer camps.  I had the (mostly) pleasure of participating in two back-to-back summer camps a couple weeks ago.  I originally volunteered for one, a TOBE (more on this later) camp, but after another camp was left shorthanded I decided to help with that one also.


We got the kids to the 'impossible chair'
We got the kids to the ‘impossible chair. The first camp I helped with was a sports camp put on by the American Corner in Karkol.  American Corners are little clubs in many countries across the world, Kyrgyzstan has 5 or 6 of them.  Sponsored by the US Embassy, they serve several purposes including providing fun activities for local youth, English clubs and ways for locals to learn about the US and opportunities to study there.  Every year the American Corner in Karakol puts on two sports camps, one in summer and one in winter.


At the camp, the kids were split into four teams.  I led Team Seattle, obviously we ‘won.’  The 5 day camp was filled with sports, hanging out at the beach and teaching the kids about topics like leadership and teamwork.  My team was awesome.  My kids were creative and really fun to hang out with.  Most of the kids had learned quite a bit of English and they were some of the most ambitious kids I’ve met.


As the sports camp was winding down, the TOBE camp was beginning.  They overlapped by a day but conveniently for me were at the same location so I easily moved from one to the other.  TOBE was an entirely different type of camp from the sports camp.  TOBE stands for ‘Teaching Our Boys to Excel’ and goes along with GLOW camps (Girls Leading Our World.)  These camps are funded by Peace Corps grants and entirely planned by current Peace Corps Volunteers, many PC posts around the world host these camps.  The idea behind these camps is to teach boys in Kyrgyzstan about a variety of topics they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed too such as leadership, healthy relationships, HIV/AIDS and sex ed.  All of the volunteers’ counterparts also came with us to this camp.  The camp was conducted entirely in Kyrgyz so our counterparts were instrumental in making the camp a success.

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Weekend at the Beach

We were excited to come to Kyrygzstan because of the beautiful mountains, staying in yurts in high alpine meadows and learning about the amazing people.  When we came here we soon got to see all that and it’s as beautiful as we hoped.  But that’s not all Kyrgyzstan has to offer.  We’re lucky enough to live in an oblast with all that plus a beautiful alpine lake with resort beach towns every bit as nice as St Tropez (or maybe closer to Coney Island…)  We recently spent a ‘Welcome Weekend’ in the nearby town of Bosteri.  Good times were had, here’s some photos:

We entered Kyrgyzstan, a land of snow-capped mountains and high alpine meadows.  A confused group of volunteers wonders how we ended up on a beach with a warm lake and a ferris wheel?
We entered Kyrgyzstan, a land of snow-capped mountains and high alpine meadows. A confused group of volunteers wonders how we ended up on a beach with a warm lake and a ferris wheel?

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West Coast Road Trip – Days 1 & 2


Vancouver to Ferndale, CA.  462 miles, 12 hours.

Finally after months of anticipation, medical tests and preparations to leave, our trip is finally here!  As we make our way South; it hasn’t quite sunk in yet that we’re unemployed and leaving the country for a long time 6 weeks from now.  We find ourselves checking our phones constantly despite work email no longer being active, it’s amazing how well trained you get to certain behaviors after 7 years.  Like most road trips, this day starts out with a long drive as we’re eager to leave the familiar behind and discover new parts of the country.  We depart at 6:30am and still manage to hit traffic as we cross into Portland (something to think about if we ever move to Vancouver.) We took Highway 99 and made it all the way to Lincoln City before stopping for breakfast at the Beach Dog Café (highly recommended to anyone looking for breakfast in the area.)

Looking at the sea mounts near Bandon, OR
Looking at the sea mounts near Bandon, OR

Continuing down the Oregon coast we pass Florence, Bandon and Coos Bay, all towns Eric hasn’t seen since he was young.  They’re vaguely familiar but hard to distinguish as most beach towns seem to be.  Soon after crossing the border into California we enter the Redwoods and get a photo in front of the Continue reading “West Coast Road Trip – Days 1 & 2”