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Children learn Mayaro’s history at Black Deer camp

Published: 
Monday, August 11, 2014
Matthew Pierre, bpTT’s community liaison officer, points to the newly-made boat and poses a question about its construction to boat builder Hollis Mahabir during the Black Deer Camp field trip.

Sixty-three youngsters from Mayaro and environs are eagerly delving into the history of their home community at the Black Deer Annual Vacation Camp sponsored by energy company, bpT&T.

Ranging from ages four to 13, the young people are engaged in a range of educational and fun activities at the five-week camp, now in its fourth year. A team of nine qualified tutors delivers content on topics such as music, sports, gardening, art and craft as well as a revision of schoolwork. 

Ten-year-old Jadan Felix, of Guayaguayare RC Primary School, was motivated by the camp experience. 

“I’ve been in this camp since it started and it is always fun and interesting and I get to make new friends. For me it is important because I get extra help with my lessons and I have improved a lot in my reading and spelling. This is the best camp and I hope one day I will be teaching other kids here,” said a smiling Jadan.

The camp focused primarily on those with learning challenges. The tutors use non-traditional methods, such as field trips, gardening and music, to teach principles of mathematics and incorporate writing and vocabulary, a release said. 

Ronda Francis, Corporate Responsibility manager, bpTT, explained the value of the camp: “The alternative learning approaches used at this camp help these youngsters get that valuable second chance to achieve their full potential. The tutors always make it a complete experience for them and their minds are energised to not only appreciate the value of learning but also to understand how it will benefit them to achieve their dreams.” 

This year’s field trips focussed on showing the students a glimpse of Mayaro as a traditional fishing community. They spent time with Hollis Mahabir, a second-generation boat builder and his assistant Clint McCalman and experienced the “floating” of a newly-made boat. 

In addition to learning about boat construction, the kids will be speaking to a fisherman and visit a fish processing facility to give them a holistic understanding of the fishing industry.

President and founder of the Mayaro-based environmental NGO, Black Deer Foundation, Arvolon Wilson-Smith, described the camp’s approach: “This year we are seeking to evoke a sense of history in the students. They are learning about the roots of their community while applying their classroom knowledge in non-traditional ways. For example, the boat-builder showed them how he uses mathematics in creating his boat designs. It is a transformational experience for the kids and we are grateful that bpTT has continued to invest in this programme.”

For eight-year-old Kelene Trotman of Mayaro Government, her first time experience has been wonderful so far.

“I never knew that learning could be so much fun. Every day we get to do so many things and the teachers spend time to show us things we don’t understand from school. Next year I will encourage my friends from school to come to the camp so they will learn as much as me.”