In echoing Kenyan-Massai Warrior Greeting, , ‘And how are the children?’, one finds a captivating narrative weaving through the heat of this past summer in Charles Town, West Virginia. A dedicated group of Black parents and educators embarked on a powerful mission to host a free Afrocentric camp for the children. This unique space served as a sanctuary, validating, affirming, and celebrating the inherent capabilities present in each young attendee.
Nodding to their African heritage, the camp’s curriculum was thoughtfully centered around STEM and Black History. Its aim was to cultivate a deeper sense of self among the children; as one parent eloquently put it, the goal was to ‘fill these kids’ love tanks up’ ahead of the return to the brick-and-mortar learning environment this fall.
The manifestation of unity, commitment, and a shared vision, this camp was the innovative solution conceived by parents from Berkeley and Jefferson County, impassioned volunteers, Black educators from diverse backgrounds, including college professors and engineers, as well as the Jefferson County Black Teachers Association Parent Hub.
Here are the resonating words from the individuals who breathed life into this extraordinary venture:
“That was nothing but God. That camp came at the right time. Every single one of us needed that…” -Miya Brown, Parent Volunteer
“Our kids needed this great experience… The thumbprints have been inscribed in the minds of the students…” -A Volunteer Black Educator
“The kids have been talking about their time all week/weekend…” -An Anonymous Parent
“I wish school could be like this every day!” -A Student
Amid the delight and enthusiasm of the camp, there were no disciplinary issues, no emergency calls to parents, just an environment overflowing with unmitigated love. The wide smiles, laughter, and excitement that radiated from the children are the most compelling testament to the success of this mission.
Such collective experiences underscore that learning is truly a sociocultural act steered by language and community. It illuminates the fact that when children are nestled within a community that mirrors their own, they are poised to thrive in ways that defy all boundaries of imagination.
The answer to the Kenyan-Massai salutation? The children are indeed well. They are brimming with love, knowledge, and ambition. And they are ready to take the legacy of this Afrocentic camp into their classrooms this fall.
As the tale of this camp continues to reverberate within the community, there’s an enduring hope to orchestrate more such empowering experiences in the future. Until then, there’s a moment to pause to celebrate the remarkable feats of the children, teachers, parents, and the entire community.