A Great First Day!

Our featured blogger today is Brittany Martin. She is 17 years old, and a member of the Westside Church of Christ youth group from Searcy, AR. 

Brittany with her buddies, Chloe (left) and Daijlynn (right)
Being a newcomer to Fortress can be kind of overwhelming but it quickly becomes easy to jump right in. At first I didn't know if one of my buddies was ever going to talk to me, but by the end of the day she had no problem with that. This was my buddy, Daijlynn. When she first came I kept asking her questions to try and get to know her, but she would only nod her head. However, that changed after our first class together. The first class that the Raphael group went to was the reading room. The kids listened to a story, then wrote in their journals and drew pictures about it. I helped Daijlynn with her journal and there was an immediate connection. It's funny how something so little can help make a bond so quickly. After that she was no longer so shy.

Next we had math class. My other buddy, Chloe, was dreading math class. I kept trying to tell her that we would have fun, but she didn't think that we would. Once in math class, we played addition games with blocks. After that we had addition races. The kids did so well and really enjoyed it. As soon as we walked out, Chloe said to me, "You were right. That was fun!" That is one thing I have already noticed about Fortress, the staff does a great job of making learning fun for the kids.

Another method I found interesting was the behavioral points system. The kids would get positive points for being obedient, or negative points for disobeying. The kids were so excited every time they got positive points. It was really effective!

Later in the day we played games. Some of the games involved riding on scooters, while other games involved "catching bacon." We had so much fun playing with the kids. Sadly, after game time it was time for the kids to leave. A couple of kids wanted to stay with us, but we reassured them we would be back the next day. Overall, we had a great first day with the kids to kick off Summer JAM!

After the kids left, we separated into groups and the interns had different activities for us. My group was in charge of dinner. We were given $27 to cook for 30 people. The interns did this to show us what it is like to live in poverty. In order to get the food, we [took public transportation] to the nearest grocery store. The most eye-opening part of the day was realizing how far away the nearest store was. Round trip took two hours when only around 25 minutes of that was spent shopping. I can't imagine having to make that trip a couple times a week! That's one reason why I'm thankful for these interns. Even after a long day handling the kids, they still had the energy to help us learn about a lifestyle completely different from our own.

These experiences have made this trip awesome. I can't wait to see what the rest of the week brings!