Director Jud's Blog

SMA Teen Camp Director Jud Millar, Writes about his Trip to Argentina

Posted by Jud Millar on Fri, Mar 11, 2016

Argentina Habitat for Humanity Global Village Trip, February 2016!


The first half of my trip to Argentina was about outdoor adventure and connecting with my old friend Carlos on his turf (not necessarily in that order). It was a real treat to be welcomed into Carlos and his wife Flor’s home, to meet their children Emma and Pedro, and to connect on a deeper level after not seeing each other for several years. Almost a decade ago, Carlos was living in Pennsylvania and we became fast friends over the common interests of rugby and the Spanish language. I had taken the time to “show” Carlos the highlights of my hometown years ago as well as SMA Overnight Teen Coed Summer Camp, Then, there we were in Mendoza, Carlos' hometown, and he was doing the same for me. (Click Here to Read my Blog Post about my Adventures with Carlos in the Andes Mountains!)


After my visit with Carlos I was back in Buenos Aires (BA), a diverse and bustling city of 14 million. I was full of anticipation and excitement for the next leg of this journey. By Sunday, March 21 our full group of Habitat for Humanity (HFH) Global Village Team mnembers assembled and we traveled to the BA HFH offices. There we met with the HFH executive director Anne and her awesome staff including Rosario, Guido, and Miri. Together they presented a thought provoking and informative orientation to Argentina and Habitat for Humanity's place in it. From there we traveled north on “Argentina Time” following the Parana River for 480 KM (300 miles) to the provincial capital of Santa Fe.  Joining us on the journey was Guido, our HFH host and guide. Along the way there was evidence of the much talked about flooding that recently occurred in the river valley and in the province of Santa Fe which directly affected our work project.teen-sleep-away-camp.jpg


That evening we settled into the Castelar Hotel, a charming historic building well past its prime, and looked ahead to the upcoming build. Monday morning we were fully clad in work boots, gloves, bug goop, and sun screen as we traveled 20K further north to the village of Recrio. Upon our arrival we were greeted by Matias, Santa Fe HFH Project Leader, a bright eyed and energetic 23 year old recent college grad who started his time at HFH as a volunteer. After that we met the family who we were working with to build this house: Adrian, Mariana, and their son Martin.


OK, now for a short history of HFH in Recrio, Argentina: HFH has been working with local families and authorities to build homes and communities for 10 years. The village of Recrio is rural; the area where we were working is relatively poor with dirt streets and no city water and sewer services.  In the past decade HFH has helped to build over 70 homes in Recrio, however, due to many factors our build was the first build project in two years.  Because of this our Global Village team had two goals while in Recrio:

  1. Build the foundation of a home for Adrian and Marianna so they can go on to build their own house.
  2. Rebuild the relationship between HFH and the villagers and village of Recrio.

Overnight-Teen-Camp-Ag.jpgTo that end, on Monday we started our building project.  Because of the recent rains the only prep that had been done to our site was to mow the grass.  The jobs in our first two days on the site included:

  • Using stakes and sticks to layout the foundation
  • Then digging many holes of various shapes, sizes, and depths for “footers” for the foundation
  • Cutting rebar and wire and then constructing “rebar cages” to use as pillars for the home and as horizontal bases for the walls

To complete these jobs, we divided into teams with translators on both sites (thank you, Beth, Pam, Guido, and Matias).  We were all excited to get to work and our team of 14 worked hard giving 100% in a positive and often humorous spirit of camaraderie and togetherness.

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Our schedule changed on Wednesday as our focus shifted from “home build” to “community relations.”  That morning we gathered with many HFH Recrio families for a meaningful welcome ceremony followed by a solid work day which included:

  • Fixing up a community play-ground:  Refurbishing flower beds
    • Repairing a sliding board
    • Painting all the play structures
    • Cutting grass as needed and cleaning/repairing sidewalks
  • Moving and installing waist high garbage collectors:
    • More Digging
    • Creating cement footers
    • Painting

Our “community relations” day was capped off that evening by a gathering at a local community building where members of a youth dance troupe gave a presentation of traditional Argentine Dances followed by a moving musical performance by a five-piece band. The father of the family we were building with prepared an amazing “Asado” or traditional Argentine bbq feast featuring prime beef and pork cuts slow cooked on an outdoor wood stove with his signature secret sauce.


We completed our final two work days in much the same spirit as the first two with team members working hard to complete tasks while taking time to learn about each other and build meaningful friendships. Our daily routines started early:

  • 6:45am breakfast at the Hotel Santa Fe 
  • 7:15am on the bus to Recrio
  • 7:45 to 11am work project
  • 11am morning break
  • 11:30 to 2pm work project
  • 2pm lunch then the bus back to Santa Fe
  • 8pm dinner in a local Santa Fe restaurant

Breaks and lunch on the work project were times for rehydration and nourishment as well as to sit in a circle and chat with the local family and connect with each other. The relationship that we built with Adrian, Marianna, and Martin was very meaningful. They were amazed that a HFH Global Village Team of 14 people from 7 states had traveled over 8000 KM (5000 miles) to help them realize their dream of building a home.


Dinners and debrief meeting were a time for our Global Village Team to bond and connect and laugh.  I think we all felt the warm feelings of togetherness due to teamwork and a common vision of our goals while in Argentina. We also felt gratitude for and a meaningful connection to our Argentina HFH including Guido, Matias, Miri, Rosario and _______.


The final days of our trip included a bus back to Buenos Aires, quick shopping trips to local markets for trinkets and souvenirs, and a closing dinner. As we said our goodbyes I think we were all a little sad to be leaving this beautiful country of Argentina, but excited to get home to our lives in the States. I know that for me personally as I boarded my flight to the U.S. I felt much gratitude to all who made my trip so special and meaningful. I will always carry the spirit of Argentina with me in my life. 


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Topics: Teen Sleepaway Summer Camp, Habitat for Humanity, Argentina, Teen Sleep Away Camp

About Director Jud's Blog

This blog will give you the "411" about everything that is Stone Mountain Adventures Teen Summer Camp!  Everything from "Summer Updates" to useful family and camp resources.  Check it out! 

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