Sara Bakr '22 Runs Neighborhood Summer Camp During COVID Lockdown

The lives of children worldwide have been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with schools, camps, and after-school activities often cancelled or held virtually. Last summer, Sara Bakr ’22 decided to do something about it in her home neighborhood in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“Basically, everything went on lockdown, and you couldn’t really leave your neighborhood unless there was something urgent,” she said. “Where I live is a very family-oriented neighborhood with a lot of kids, so my neighbor and I decided to do a summer camp.”

Sara said she started planning for the camp with her neighbor during the spring 2021 semester while she was on campus at Saint James. After arriving back in Saudi Arabia at the end of the school year, she and her friend jumped right in.  
"We know the importance of physical activity and social contact during these tough times," she said. "Our aim was to bring that to life through fun and organized activities for the kids in the Alrabia Compound."

They spread the word about the camp through neighborhood Facebook and WhatsApp groups and worked with community leaders to get access to facilities.  The camp was held at the neighborhood recreation center or outside at the park if the weather was nice.  

During the week, the camp met for about three hours at a time and drew 7-9 children regularly with 16-17 attending weekend activities.  Sara said she put a lot of hours into planning for the camp, choosing a variety of activities to entertain the kids who ranged from age 6-13.  

“It started off with more educational activities, like making a baking soda and vinegar volcano, but then it switched to movie nights and painting and origami,” she said. “We had a slime day and a make-your-own fidget day. I had no interest in that, but it’s a lot more fun watching the kids enjoy what they’re doing.”

Other activities included a tie-dye day, sports day, and a Just Dance competition. Sara said many of the same kids attended the camp each day, so she got to know them very well. The parents in the neighborhood were also appreciative of having an organized activity for their children to do while they were stuck at home.
“I honestly loved it,” Sara said. “I went back this winter break and hung out with the kids just for fun.”

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