MAD (Make a Difference) Travel is revving up its Kids Camp program starting early next year, and we were one of the lucky few to experience what it has to offer firsthand.
Held at the GK Enchanted Farm from sunrise to sunset, Kids Camp offers a range of activities unexplored by urban-dwelling, gadgets-loving Metro kids. Campers get to feed livestock, make their own peanut butter, stuff their own plushie toys, and eat pastries they baked themselves. Partnering with Human Nature, the camp will now be offered every month.
GK Enchanted Farm is actually more than a farm -- a small barangay would better describe it. A small community of friendly and warm people reside here, and they keep everything up and running, including tending to all the livestock and vegetation.
Upon arrival, the Kids Camp kids were led in a nature walk by Raf Dionisio, co-founder of MAD Travel, as they made their way to the animal farm.
The group took the chance to stop every so often to learn about plants; scrunching up tanglad and aloe vera in their palms to get a whiff of their essences, stroking makahiya plants to watch their leaves close, and even sampling (yes, tasting!) a few edible flowers.
The animal farm is home to pigs, goats, ducks and other livestock. Their milk and eggs are used to make a variety of products made in the farm, including ice cream and salted eggs (itlog na maalat).
A good chunk of the morning was spent feeding the animals -- the kids didn't want to leave until every animal had his belly full. “Through farming, animal feeding and planting, the kids will get a better idea of where their food comes from, and how important it is that we develop agriculture in a sustainable way,” says Raf.
Next up is a visit to the sewing haven of the women behind Plush & Play stuffed toys. They make them here to be shipped off to toy stores in the Metro.
After a quick talk on how Plush & Play proceeds go directly to the sewers to help them feed their families and send their children to school, the kids were each given materials to make their own heart-shaped stuffed toy. In the photo above, two pieces of fabric get sewn together, for stuffing afterwards.
A Kids Camper showing off her heart stuffed toy she just finished stuffing.
Taking their stuffed toys with them, the group headed to the covered court for food and rest. Lunch was kaldereta and rice topped with tomatoes, and slices of watermelon for dessert, boodle-style. Washed and clean hands before eating was mandatory.
Baking came after lunch with the bakers at Make Peace Bakery. The recipe for the day was choco crinkles, which the kids had as snacks later in the afternoon.
Next, it was off to First Harvest, makers of delicious peanut butter. Their rice crispies variety is almost always sold out in stores. Co-founder Tajen Sui showed the kids around the First Harvest facility and explained how peanuts turned to peanut butter. Afterwards, the kids designed their own peanut butter speads using ingredients like honey, brown sugar, salt, peanuts and rice crispies. They got to take their creations home with them, too.
As the day drew to a close, the kids gathered for an art session, after which the last activity for the day -- playing a few games with the local kids -- ensued.
Kids Camp was first offered in the summer of 2014, and continued on every year as a summer program. For 2017, the camp is happening once a month at the GK Enchanted Farm in Angat, Bulacan – a great place for kids to get exposed to not only nature, but also social responsibility.
GK Enchanted Farm, as stated in its website, is “Gawad Kalinga’s platform to raise social entrepreneurs, help our local farmers, and create wealth in the countryside,” and the activities in the Kids Camp program take advantage of a lot of these social efforts.
First Harvest peanut butter, Plush & Play stuffed toys, Bayani Brew bottled tea and GoldenducK salted eggs all come from the 40-hectare farm and its community. “[Kids Camp] is a fun introduction to social enterprise and [kids get to] see how business can serve not only to enrich ourselves, but to make the world a better place,” says Raf.
The camp is open to kids ages 3 to 12. Parents can tag along, too. Upcoming dates are January 14, February 11, March 11 and April 15. Registration fee is Php 2,200 including farm-fresh lunch, snacks, Human Nature Bug Shield Spray, and all activities in the itinerary. Round-trip transportation is available upon request. Register at bit.ly/mad-kids-camp.