It’s all well and good to discuss transportation, security, food, and healthcare, but everyone knows the boss sets the tone for the camp experience. That’s why we want you to meet Bobbi Rossiter , who founded the camp and has nurtured it from concept to reality . Here are the answers to a few questions you might have for her:
1) Why did you start Irie Camp Jamaica ?
I needed a place like it and found that none existed.
Living abroad, I found that my kids weren’t getting much exposure to Jamaican culture. They were missing out not only on many of the experiences I valued growing up as a kid, but also on their own heritage and identity.
I researched and asked around for opportunities to put my kids in touch with their roots and thought a summer camp would be the ideal way. There wasn’t one that fit the bill. I’m a problem-solver by nature, so I started one.
A guiding principle in designing the camp was “Out of many, one people.” I want to bring people together – locals, diaspora Jamaicans, and other people with an interest in Jamaican culture - from across the world and give them a hands-on experience with what makes Jamaica great. For my kids, it was a matter of giving them a taste of my childhood, and an appreciation for where I came from.
2) What should we expect when we arrive?
Your children will be immersed in something authentically Jamaican, exposing them to things they’ve forgotten about or never knew existed. Kids from overseas will experience a Jamaica they wouldn’t have believed existed, while those from the island will gain a new appreciation for what they see daily. Both sides will quickly come to understand Jamaica through the eyes of their peers .
3) Why are you limiting camp to two weeks ?
We’re very excited to get Irie Camp Jamaica going, and wanted to make it extra special by running it during the Independence Day and Emancipation Day celebrations. In our inaugural year, in addition to giving our campers a great experience, we wanted to build a foundation and raise awareness for future years. We’ll try new things, incorporate campers’ and parents’ feedback, and spread the word about the camp so that we can attract enough campers to increase the number of available sessions in years to come.
4) Why is attendance at your camp so inexpensive ?
Because of my two kids, I have a pretty fair idea how expensive it is to find quality activities after school or over the summer. So it wasn’t difficult for me to see the world through the eyes of parents wanting to help their children learn more about Jamaican culture.
I wanted to make sure that prices for this camp would never make parents with multiple children feel like they had to choose which child to send to camp. And by making our camp so affordable, it’s an easy reach for families abroad, as well as for families "a yaad" who are looking for quality summer activities for their children.
5) Have you ever lived in Jamaica?
Oh yes! I’ve lived half my life in Jamaica and the other half overseas. I spent my formative years in Jamaica, including a few years at St. Hilda’s Diocesan High, the site for Irie Camp Jamaica’s summer sessions. Jamaica is the one place in the world I’ve lived the longest, and is always my first choice of where to return to. In fact, no matter where in the world I go, Jamaica will always be my home.
6) Will your own kids be participating this year ?
My youngest is a toddler, and isn’t quite old enough yet to be a camper at Irie Camp Jamaica. However, I have a feeling I won’t be able to keep my 5-year-old out of some of the activities this summer... especially since her older cousin will be there as a camper.
7) What does the future hold for the camp?
We see this year as just the beginning of a long, grand, and glorious family reunion for children. Irie Camp Jamaica is destined to be a global beacon, serving as a bridge between island culture, kids on the island, kids of the Jamaican diaspora, and children of parents who value cultural tourism. We’re inviting the world to come learn about Jamaican culture and pride, and want you to be part of this adventure.
Hi, I'm Bobbi and while I'll generally be posting here, I'll occasionally invite others to share as well.