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Have you ever heard that quote from Eisenhower, “Plans are nothing. Planning is everything”? That quote comes to mind a lot when thinking about my past three weeks here. During my first two weeks at Families Moving Forward, Angela and I were busy planning a financial literacy camp for the homeless youth who live on site. We viewed those two weeks as crucial planning time. We reached out to numerous Durham restaurants, organizations, and residents to provide donated lunches and field trips to our program. By the end of the two weeks, we had an agenda for every day of the 4 week program, with field trips planned for The Scrap Exchange, The Parlour, trips to the pool, Latino Credit Union and many more, with 17 lunches donated for the 19 days. We felt like we had planned as much as possible for the kids to arrive the following Monday.

Now, more than a week later, I can tell you that I could not have been more wrong. I had so many questions walking into work last Monday: Would the kids like me? Would they be engaged or bored? I had no idea what to expect no matter how much planning I had done. Since then, I have learned that your plans can only get you so far.

Since we were first placed with Families Moving Forward and started initial discussions about the camp, we had been told to expect 8-10 kids in the program. That is exactly what we planned for. We organized lunches and field trips around that number, and even organized for the kids to host a car wash and bake sale as part of the financial literacy component of the camp. Since last Monday, however, the number of kids has been the most variable part of the program, ranging anywhere from 1-5 depending on the day. This rendered most of our planning from the past two weeks useless. A lot of the games, lessons, and activities that we had planned (nearly down to the minute) would be impossible to pull off with such a small group of kids. This has been quite a learning experience for me as someone who takes making plans so seriously.

While we went into last Monday thinking that we had the entire four weeks planned out by the hour, we now go into work each day having little to no clue what we will be doing with the kids. The program has taken on a wait-and-see approach. Each day we get to the program and wait to see how many kids will show up. From there, we adjust–or completely scrap–our agenda for the day. Anyone looking at the program schedule we came up with during the first two weeks would struggle to find a resemblance of the camp that we ran last week. I was initially frustrated. Two whole weeks of planning now seemed so wasted. Over the past week, however, I have started to embrace it. If anything, I am learning something during this summer camp and hopefully the kids are too.