Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: The Bumpy Ride to Summer Camp

Yes, that jar contains spiders.

Disclaimer: Spider-catching lessons will not be one of the camp activities. DNA base pairing lessons -the AT and GC pairing seen on my shirt here- will be.

This past month has been a mad scramble to prepare for our summer camps!

This year Kedila is running three camps across New Orleans. We were planning on running a teen camp at St. Katharine Drexel and a camp in Algiers at the NORDC Cut-Off Center, but we had a last-minute addition of another camp, at Banneker Elementary, where Kedila has been running summer camp and after-school programs for the past nine years.

Over the past month I have created and modified several dozen schedules for everything from field trips, to karate instruction, dodgeball games, and lunch breaks. I designed activities for ecology exploration, chemistry experimentation, and biology research for students ranging from five to fifteen.

Banneker’s Camp started on Monday, and while everything did not run incredibly smoothly (more on that later), all of this preparation was worth it just for these photos.


On hot days, nothing beats a hose to cool everyone down.


Here the students demonstrate how the Olympics SHOULD work.

Our plan at the moment is to split materials across two of the summer camps. Originally, I was going to take some of it over in my car for the Cut-Off camp at the end of this week, but everything had to be changed, as my car is -once again- out of action.

It doesn’t have any cats in the engine this time (see my previous posts), but it does have a very nasty dent preventing me from opening the driver’s door. On last Tuesday evening someone hit it and drove off while I was at dinner. Luckily, someone witnessed the incident, wrote a note explaining what had happened, and provided me with a license plate number. On the downside, the car was damaged to a point where I cannot drive it, but thanks to my parents, I have good insurance, and a bike.

I always forget the state of the roads here in New Orleans. My Jeep is a fantastic mode of transportation; it can handle even the biggest of potholes (I try to draw the line at sinkholes). My bike, however, is the cheapest possible collection of wheels and chains. Nearly bald tires, rusted frame, and worn grips, this bike is really more suitable for leisurely rides through Audubon Park than it is for handling city streets. Riding between uptown and downtown, I feel like I am surfing, fishtailing back and forth to avoid obstacles and coming just a little too close to wiping out with every missing chunk of asphalt. Despite the extra care I must take with the roads on this ride, I do get to see a lot of the city that I normally miss. My normal routes, Claiborne and Carrolton, are not particularly bike-friendly streets, and the streets on either side are far more accommodating for a biker.

Riding off the beaten path, (a misnomer, as the road looks like it has taken a multitude of heavy beatings) I get to see a lot of things I would ordinarily miss: people hanging out on porches, preparing in the neutral ground (the median, for those outside of New Orleans) for a second line (again, for those outside of New Orleans: this is a parade, originally to celebrate the lives of deceased community members, now more of an extended block party), incredibly popular corner stores, but mostly just a sense of the communities I pass through constantly without taking a moment to really see.

I will leave you with this gem of wisdom: Children with hoses are not to be trusted.



What are you talking about? “Try to Get the Water through All the Hoops” is totally a game!

Happy June!

Erin Ricketts

AmeriCorps VISTA with Kedila Family Learning Services



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