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Community Unity Camp Holistic Impact Update #3 - 2018

Community unity is a key part of the CoHI program. Without unity, there is no possibility of carrying forward a common vision. So, with the help of HTH CoHI and Campamento Extremo Internacional (CEI) Staff, our three pilot Community Development Commissions composed of local leaders in Lomas del Aguila, Las Lomitas, and Caliche... went to camp.

DAY 1

In the CEI obstacle course, our community leaders got very, very dirty as they discussed and then lived through practical examples of trust, humility, and teamwork. There were quite a few cranky leaders when they figured out what was about to happen, but then they loosened as the day wore on. Kaleb, Fredy, Otto, and Micah each joined a community on their way through the course.

After a full day on the obstacle course and a swim in the lake, each community spent time getting cleaned up before dinner and an evening workshop. The workshop had community commission work together as a group to perform a detailed analysis of their finished community map to figure out how they could apply what they learned to their town's development. Each group then presented their map to the other communities - including recommendations for the future.

Following our mapping session, the communities then began working to identify what truly made their communities unique. Through a guided brainstorming exercise, they discovered what local elements gave their town its individual identity. Based on these results, we will work with a professional designer to create a logo for each town that leaders will then use to create and sell t-shirts locally for community funds - in addition to creating pride in their local communities identity. This exercise allowed us to practice brainstorming, a sense of local price and belonging, as well as laying the groundwork for future training in local fundraising and financial management.

As with all legitimate camp experiences, the evening ended around a campfire, with community members sharing what they have learned so far in the CoHI program. Dimas from Lomas del Aguila shared an incredibly moving account of what has happened to their leadership team since the program began.

Before this program, we did not know what we did not know... we have seen an 80% change in our leadership team.

As team members headed back to their respective cabins for a well-deserved night's rest, the echoes of success and change rang between their ears.

DAY 2

After breakfast, we got moving right away with some team-building exercises - with some interesting results.

After fitting every leader into a tiny square and lifting a broomstick without removing a single finger from the bar, we moved onto the morning's biggest challenge - NAILS.

Otto presented an incredible challenge to the communities - balance 10 nails on the head of a single nail driven into wood. Every leader immediately recoiled....

"Impossible."

But dutifully, each team surrounded a table with 11 nails and began to attempt to balance. 5, 10, 15 minutes went by. Team members tried new ideas, repeated failed ones, and one-by-one lost hope- convinced that it was some sort of cruel trick by HtH staff. Then. Shouts from the Lomas del Aguila table. Las Lomitas and Caliche rushed over - convinced that it was a joke.

But it was no joke.

Persistence and quiet determination had payed off. Lorenzo and Dimas had convinced their fellow teammates that it had to be possible, and that they had to be patient - which in turn made success a reality.

Even HTH staff were shocked. There is a specific technique to balancing the nails - and this was not that technique, which illustrates a very important point for those of us involved in development work. Although we may think that we know the solution to a particular development issue - alternative solutions always exist. The value in development is not in balancing the nails, but in allowing each community try to balance them as we encourage and support them.

Now enlightened and convinced of the possibility of success, Caliche and Las Lomitas attempted to balance their nails, but were unable until Otto showed them the secret technique.

A great round of discussion followed on how to overcome obstacles previously-deemed impossible. Many doubters were clearly converted into optimists.

The morning continued with Fredy sharing a seminar on unity and teamwork based on John Maxwell's materials. His role as "Inspirer-in-Chief" came in useful as he taught practical methods of how to unite a diverse group of leaders in a community.

After a filling lunch, leaders loaded themselves back up into the beds of pick-up trucks and headed for home - where unity really matters.