Collins Leo John is the motor behind a happy vacation camp named Funny Bunny Camp. Over the past three weeks, more than a hundred children have participated in a program that offers a variety of fun, sports, creativity and social-emotional empowerment. “Every child has the right to enjoy a vacation camp. My goal is to give them a happy time against a fair fee.” The recently-launched Happy Community Initiative (HCI) supports the Funny Bunny camp. With your help, Collins and his team can give less fortunate kids a happy vacation!
At the neighborhood center of Savaneta, 105 children between 4-and-12 years old are playing, laughing, running, singing and jumping. There is a buzz of happiness in the air. The center is a great environment that offers a spacious indoor room with long tables to do arts & crafts, or for meals. There is a stage for shows as well. Outside, the children can play football and basketball on a court with stand or play other outside games on a smaller field.
No One Left Out
“Initially the camp is for kids from less fortunate families as many times they cannot participate in the vacation camps due to the high prices. We keep our costs low and even if you can’t pay we will work something out,” Collins says. A few children attend for free, while most are paying less, and there are a small number who provide the actual costs. “I know about 80 percent of the families and understand their situation. No child can be left out, that is my principle.”
When he was a ten-year-old boy, he experienced how it was to be left out when he and some friends could not join a vacation camp because there was no money. Collins: “Growing up I decided that I do not want other children to feel how I felt. I needed to do something about that and initiated my first camp at the age of 17 in collaboration with a local school.” From there, he continued organizing camps during his leisure time. “We have mentors that study at the institutions for secondary and higher vocational education that train students to become teachers at pre-school and primary school. There is also a social worker on the team and a police officer assisting the camp. I am the project leader and in daily life I work at the Police Forces Victim Support,” a passionate Collins explains. The camp has been in existence for nine years and operates during most school vacations.
Funny Bunny camp has buses that pick up the children in the morning because not all parents have cars for transportation. “With the current tight economic situation on the island, more and more parents need to leave their children home alone. They work, many times two jobs, and try to meet ends as most of them are single parents. With this camp, we can help both the children and the parents.” Breakfast and lunch are included and they go out at least four times to the cinema, museums, and cultural sites or to do scavenger hunts. Collins: “We invite sports teachers, and local artists to work with the children and also collaborate with local foundations.”
Want to Help?
The Happy Community Initiative(HCI) supports Funny Bunny camp and coordinator Kimberly Mathilda explains why: “Funny Bunny camp is a great example of a camp that contributes to the island’s children in a way that is accessible to all. Mr. Collins John offers the camp against low prices and in case parents have no financial means he is always willing to find a solution. His goal is to make the children happy and offer a varied program with educational, entertaining and empowering elements.” HCI helps youth between 12-18 years with after school programs and youth-at-risk as well as mentorship activities during school breaks for all children. Collins mentions that the camp could use some skipping ropes, pull rope, balls, hula hoops, swinging-rings, arts & crafts, kitchen gear like cutlery and hard plastic cups and water jugs. Whether you are a local, company or visitor, read below how you can reach out to give some happiness to Aruba’s children.
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The Happy Community Initiative is a visitor charity program that you can help strengthen Aruba’s community by donating to good causes. CEDE Aruba, a dynamic community foundation, and the Aruba Timeshare Association (ATSA) collaborate in this platform for visitors who would like to make a donation, but also volunteer in the future. The priority is set to support projects for Aruban youths. CEDE Aruba will make sure that the donations reach meaningful projects of local non-profits, based upon quality and transparency of finances of the offered programs. In this manner, you can be assured that your donation will reach its goal! With your donation, you support Aruban children with After-School Programs, Mentorship Activities during School Breaks and Social Support for Youth at Risk. You can donate at the kiosks in the lobby of several hotels (Costa Linda, Playa Linda, Paradise Beach Villas and La Cabana) or you can donate on the website: https://happycommunityaruba.org/donate.
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