The 2011-2012 Boosterthon giveback initiative, Operation Playground, was a hit! We returned from our five-day service trip to Guatemala more convinced than ever that serving others is a huge part of changing the world. Though we’ve initiated several giveback trips to communities in the past, this one felt different.
Because this year’s give back initiative was so rooted in our year-long Epic Adventure character theme, and so many students sought to reach the GiveBack Reward Level to help those in Guatemala, we felt the weight and the responsibility to make the most of every moment. We wanted to leave an impact far beyond the projects completed and the new playgrounds. Our team got the opportunity to know the schools in the mountains of Guatemala just like we know and love the schools here in America. It was truly a privilege to serve the nearly 3,000 Guatemalan students, and if you’ve been on any service trip you know that ultimately, the people you go to serve end up impacting you far more than you do them.
For international travel, everything went smoothly, except for one logistic: the three playgrounds were unfortunately held up in port on their way from the U.S. to Guatemala. There was a strike in the Panama Canal and our boat wasn’t allowed to pass. (In the coming weeks when the playgrounds arrive, another team will be sent down to see through the construction.) Staying positive, we looked to next year’s theme about choices, choosing to have “A Good Attitude” and not letting the news keep us from impacting our schools. We asked the principals at each school what their greatest needs were on campus, broke up in three teams, and served. The silver lining is that with the playgrounds’ delay, we actually will be able to leave a greater impact, completing several projects in addition to the new playground equipment!
On the campuses we built an extra classroom, we painted two giant murals that covered old, chipping paint, we cleaned and painted bathrooms, and we built pantry shelves for kitchen supplies. The projects were great, but the children were the highlight.
“I have such a vivid picture of Guatemalan students flocking our team as the vans arrived at the schools,” said our trip director, Tyler Yaken. “We were able to give back through building a classroom, painting walls, and other projects but most importantly, we were able to change the world through the joy that our team brings to students. That’s what we really came for.”
Through broken Spanish our team members get to know, play with, and celebrate the students. One thing we all learned was that enthusiasm doesn’t need a translator. At the pep rallies held at each school, students cheered just like American students, ready to watch their teachers dance and learn a few dance moves themselves. The students also love sports. Everyday, our team participated in any one of the five games of soccer or basketball happening simultaneously on one court—unbelievably fun.
It was an extraordinary trip. Team members from across the Booster nation got to unite and serve the people of a beautiful country. All of it was possible because of Boosterthon students who worked so hard throughout the school year to help the people of Guatemala. Thank you for your heart for others! We are making more preparations for a small team to return to Guatemala in the coming weeks when the playgrounds reach the port to ensure the project is fully complete.
If you enjoyed this year’s giveback initiative, we can’t wait for our schools to get behind next year’s. You’re going to love it!
The Boosterthon Fun Run is a fundraising company designed for America’s top schools. Since 2001, Boosterthon’s taught millions of students across the nation about the importance of fitness, leadership, and character while helping schools raise needed funds. To inquire how our unique fundraising program can help with your school’s fundraising needs, visit www.boosterthon.com/contact.