Shanda Williams and Christine Martinez ran art activity camps, styled after those offered every summer by Grenfell, at schools in their hometowns.
Williams and Martinez first came to Grenfell as students.
Williams arrived in 2003 and completed a psychology degree. She’s now the university’s program co-ordinator for international students.
Martinez arrived in December 2005 and studied environmental science with a concentration in biology. She’s now a biology lab technician.
Williams is from Roaring Creek and Martinez is from Esperanza. The villages are in the district of Cayo and both women actually attended the same high school, however, they didn’t get to know each other until coming to Newfoundland.
Williams had been home for Christmas and had no intentions of making another trip so soon. That is until Martinez, who hadn’t been home in about three years, started to push her to go home again.
“She’s the person that did this,” said Williams giving Martinez a sly look. “She messed it all up. She’s the bad instigator.”
Martinez can’t help but laugh when she agrees that she kept “pushing her and pushing her to go home.”
Williams said they had agreed to go for a month, from May 19 to June 16, but she wondered what she would do for all that time.
“Less than two weeks before we were supposed to leave I told Christine ‘you know what I want to do, some sort of camp or something at a school I used to teach at when I was at home.’”
Now it was her turn to talk her friend, who had planned going home and relaxing, into doing something.
“I said ‘if I’m going down, you’ve got to help me,’” said Williams.
The result, according to Martinez was that “she roped me in to the activity camp.”
From there the planning started and Williams was able to get staff at the university onboard.
Some staff members donated items that went into a basket and was raffled off. Williams said they made about $300 on that, which went a long way in buying supplies.
They also received donations of supplies from staff members and from the campus book store.
Williams said they chose the art activity camp because it would be something quick and easy to do.
“I just wanted to do something that was fun. And I think whatever art stuff you try to do you can make it fun.”
Double the fun
The intention was to only do one camp at the Roaring Creek Nazarene Primary School, but when Martinez’s sister heard of their plan she encouraged them to do a second one at the Santa Elena Primary School in Esperanza where she teaches.
In Roaring Creek they spent a day at the school working with 120 children. The students were broken into three groups and the art activities were linked to things they were learning about in school.
One group made caterpillars out of egg cartons, another made a paper garden and the third created mixed media collages.
Williams said the children were encouraged to let their imagination run wild and they loved it.
“You never know what you are going to create.”
At Santa Elena Primary School they worked with a much smaller group of 25 to 30 children for a few hours.
They used foam sheets in kind of a mixed media project with the kids. The result was everything from snakes to a few SpongeBob replicas.
A highlight of this camp for Martinez was she got to spend time with nieces.
Williams said she really enjoyed offering the activity camps and it is something she’s interested in doing again, especially in Roaring Creek.
“Part of my goal of spending time at the school was to kind of see what the needs were of the school.”
With a project in mind she hopes to do some fundraising to help the school on an ongoing basis.
And when she does go back, she plans to make sure Martinez is there to help out.