Tuesday, September 25, 2012

FAQ's About Kids Play International's Volunteer Trips

Athlete Ambassador Emily Cook (left) and Founder Tracy Evans (right)

Traveling to a new country can be both exhilarating and intimidating at the same time. Not knowing exactly what to expect is exciting yet can leave us feeling hesitant and overflowing with questions.

But guess what? We love questions! We want YOU to get involved and let us know what questions you might have about traveling to Rwanda or Malawi, volunteering with Kids Play International, going gorilla trekking, or anything in between. 

If you're curious about it. Most likely someone else is, too. Below are some common questions we've been hearing. If you have one of your own, please post a comment! 

Any special fitness requirements for this trip?
Our KPI Volunteer Trips are very active and do require a general level of healthy physical fitness. We will be walking, wandering, playing, and vinyasa flowing (for the yoga trip in July), the days away! If you have any injuries or special requirements, please consult your physician first. Also, please let us know at the time of inquiry. 

Why is gorilla trekking $750 buckaroos?
The Rwandan Silverback Gorillas are an endangered species (we recommend checking out the film “Gorillas in the Mist”, which was filmed and took place here). The permit fee goes towards protecting the National Park, supporting the Rangers and Trackers who stay with the gorillas throughout the day, and protecting the gorillas against poachers. Only a certain number of permit passes are given out each day.

What if I don’t want to go gorilla trekking?
The gorillas will definitely be sad to hear you won’t be stopping by to say hi. This is a very unique and awe-inspiring experience that we encourage you not to miss. However, if you choose to not go trekking, you will be able to get some extra down time at the Mountain View Gorilla Lodge.

What is the food like?
One of the best ways to experience a culture is to experience the food. We recommend checking out a blog that Jaime Komer, an Athlete Ambassador of KPI, posted about her experience with Rwandan cuisine after her trip in May of 2012: "There's no compare to local fare."

For the Yoga Volunteer Trip in July 2013:

Do I need to have yoga experience?
Absolutely not! Whether you’ve been practicing for years or never stepped on a yoga mat in your life, we’d love for you to join in on the fun. 

*If you have any injuries, please let the Instructor, Jaime Komer, know ahead of time.

Do I have to attend each yoga session?
Don’t you fret, the yoga sessions are completely optional. So if you’re craving a few extra zzz’s one day, go for it!

Where will we get our yoga on?
We are going to get the most out of the scenic beauty of Rwanda by holding most yoga sessions outdoors. This includes outdoor lawn locations at hotels, the Let’s Play! Sports Field, and even alongside the calm waters of Lake Kivu.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Where Are We Going?

Isn't that the question of the day! But let's get a little more specific, shall we? Kids Play International will be leading two volunteer trips to Rwanda in 2013 and we'd like to tell you a little more about this wonderful country. 

Country. Culture. Experience.

Known as the “land of a thousand hills”, Rwanda is an awe-inspiring country known for its vibrant culture and it’s welcoming, resilient people. Located in Central East Africa, this small country is surrounded by four others; Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Rwanda experienced a horrific, nationwide genocide in 1994, leaving almost one million people slaughtered, and countless others affected. There are several genocide monuments throughout the country, recognizing these events. On each KPI Volunteer Trip, we always visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial within the first few days of arrival, so that we may better understand the story, history, and culture of this special country. 

Being just south of the equator and higher in elevation, Rwanda offers a fairly mild climate with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons (don’t worry, we like to visit during the dry seasons). 

This unique landscape is also quite the happening place for….gorillas! There are very few places in the world where you can experience a Silverback Gorilla in its natural habitat, and Rwanda is one of them! 

As we dish out more about our Volunteer Trips, we'd love for you to join in on the fun with Facebook and Twitter!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2013 Volunteer Trips

When you decide to travel with a purpose with KPI, you're in for a trip of a lifetime...Get ready to be inspired!

As we're master planning away to create the coolest Volunteer Trips with Kids Play International possible, we figure it's only fair that we give you a sneak peek. With overwhelming response for ways to get involved, we are now offering three opportunities to experience KPI in Africa. 

Mark your calendars, here are the dates for the upcoming 2013 Volunteer Trips:
Rwanda: May 28th - June 10th (led by 4-time Olympian, Cameron Myler) 
Price: $1799 per person (plus airfare) *add $750 for Gorilla Trekking Permit
*Optional add-on Safari to Tanzania

Malawi: May 13th - 26th (led by Founder of KPI and 3-time Olympian, Tracy Evans)
Price: $1899 per person (plus airfare)
*Includes Safari to Zambia!    

Rwanda: July 14th - 28th (led by Olympic Silver Medalist & Yoga Instructor, Jaime Komer) 
Price: $1799 per person (plus airfare) *add $750 for Gorilla Trekking Permit
*Optional add-on Safari to Tanzania!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wait, There's a Life Beyond Sports? That's Silly Talk!

We've all heard the stories about the high school athlete getting signed to a professional team, forgoing the college route, and then somehow injuring themselves so severely that they can no longer play. This is a heart wrenching moment in someone's life, when their dream of continuing their athletic journey comes to sudden stop. 

Though this unfortunate story is not too common, the choice (forced or optional) to finally stop playing a sport is one that most of us have experienced at some point in our lives. We're talking all levels, high school, college, pro, Olympic. Heck, let's even go back to AYSO.

Some of us crazy kids are so athletically driven that once we reach the point of hanging up our jersey (or goggles, suits, caps, you get the drift), we might be completely dumbfounded at the direction to take our lives. What's next?

Wait, did I just hear my parent's voice? "Education is more important than playing sports. You can't play sports for your entire life, can you?" Well, I suppose they've got a point, even Kobe Bryant will retire one day. And very few of us will be retiring with his benefits! 

What I love about Kids Play International is the simple yet ideal purpose to the program. We give children the opportunity to play sports. To learn all the life lessons we will inherently pick up when training, working with others, and competing. The clever bit (like my parent's voice in the back of my head) is that these kids who are involved with KPI are given opportunities for scholarships, to continue their education. So that they may continue to grow, beyond their love for playing sports. 

Because no matter how good we are or how much we love it, at some point in our lives it will be time to change directions and create new opportunities for ourselves. Where the heck will we go? That's for you to decide. The world is yours my friend, go get it! 

Save the Date: On September 24th, join us for Cocktails for a Cause in New York City at the 48 Lounge

Follow KPI on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Professional & Olympic Athlete Ambassadors

Giving Back
The power and influence of sports. Before we can learn the life lessons that have helped mold us into who we are today, we must have the opportunity to play. Many Olympic and Professional Athletes have taken this to heart and dedicated their time and knowledge to sharing their love of sports with others.

What is an Athlete Ambassador?
KPI partners with professional and Olympic athletes who are passionate about their sports and giving back. They not only want to make a difference in the lives' of children in Africa but are passionate about traveling with a purpose. We're all about supporting our Athlete Ambassadors by sharing their stories and successes, and we love that they share KPI's!

Who are KPI's Athlete Ambassadors?

Anne Poulin - Professional Soccer Player

Cameron Myler - 4-time Olympian in Luge
Chanda Gunn - Olympic Bronze
Medalist for USA Hockey

Emily Cook - 2-time Olympian in Freestyle Skiing

Jaime Komer - Olympic Silver Medalist for USA Water Polo
Do you know know an elite athlete that embodies the core values of KPI? Send us an email with a brief description of the athlete and why you think they'd be a great addition to the KPI Team!
Please email: jaime@kidsplayintl.org.

Are you in the loop?
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (found under "kidsplayintl"). Check out Facebook or click here for all the snazzy info and latest updates on our Cocktails for a Cause event in New York City.

*Photo of Jaime Komer by Jeff Farsai.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cocktails for a Cause in NYC!

Who's ready to dance, bid, walk the red carpet, drink, chat, and laugh the night away in true style? That's right my philanthropic party lovers, Cocktails for a Cause is heading to New York City!

Kids Play International's first annual East Coast fundraiser will take place at the luxurious 48 Lounge on September 24th. This stellar location will set the mood for an evening celebrating and supporting KPI's Let's Play! and Girls Dream Big programs. 

Here's the quick little dish about these two great programs:

Let's Play! is a community sports education program in Gatagara, Rwanda. We currently have an outstanding program director and several local coaches leading over 300 children through the after-school program. 

Girls Dream Big is a scholarship program that helps identity girls who are in need of funding to continue or finish their schooling, while empowering and supporting them through sports. 

The Juicy Goodness
This is a chance for us all to get together, learn about and support a very special organization, and even rub shoulders with some Olympians! If you have yet to visit Rwanda or Malawi with KPI, this is also the perfect opportunity to chat with the volunteers and athlete ambassadors who have first-hand experience. Maybe by next year, you'll be sharing your own KPI volunteer trip experience! 

I Need My Ticket!
We make things eazy-peazy. You can purchase your tickets online here for $30 or $40 at the door (ticket receipt is required at door). 

Not Able to Make it?
Even if you happen to be galavanting around the world, we still whole-heartedly appreciate your support. If you'd like to donate (believe it or not, $25 sends a Rwanda child to primary school for one year), please peruse here

Don't Forget to Bring Your Bidding Paddle
Just kidding, we won't be doing live bidding (that get's wild!). But you're still in luck, we'll be hosting a packed silent auction. With all these professional athletes that KPI is involved with, my guess is that there will be some pretty hot and unique items available. Happy bidding!

Nitty Gritty
Cocktails for a Cause
Monday, September 24th 2012
6:00pm − 9:00pm
48 Lounge
1221 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Warning: Symptoms of the Olympic Fever

I recently returned home from a jaunt across the pond to cheer at the Olympic Games and appear to have symptoms possibly related to the Olympic Fever. 
Have you heard of this serious illness? For the past year it's been spreading and gaining momentum across the globe. I'm surprised the World Health Organization has not posted an international alert (maybe they've caught it and keeping it under wraps).

Please review the following symptoms to see if you or a loved one have fallen ill to the Olympic Fever. We strongly suggest taking precaution when attempting to diagnose a loved one or friend, they may attempt to dress you up as a Wenlock (cyclops mascot, quite scary indeed). 

*You don't leave home without wearing a cape of your country's flag. And why wouldn't you, it looks better than a Snuggie and you feel like the Caped Crusader. 

*When making a reservation at a restaurant, you place your reservation under William and Kate or Elizabeth and James (Bond, James Bond).

*You now do a victory dance at the end of every workout. 

*As you take your dog for a walk, you now greet neighbors with Usain Bolt dance moves. And then you run as fast as you can around the block. 

*You've created i.d. credentials for yourself and any other VIP's allowed into your Sponsored Hospitality House (aka your home).

*You now place your priceless pin collection in a safe (and you know who to talk to on the black market to get more).

*You have competed and/or hosted a Beerolympics, where you drink a beer from as many different countries as possible (you know the rules, you must be standing at the end to win. Don't forget to make a podium in your house to accept your medal).

*You now strut your stuff in a speedo (don't forget your goggles). And if you don't already, you shave your arms, legs, and back. So speedy!

*You attempt to start the wave at office meetings. A round or rectangular table is ideal for such an event. Horn blowers are optional.

*You stand on the curb of a busy street waiting to cheer all cyclists who ride by.

*You attend your children's athletic events covered in body paint and holding a cheer sign. Who cares if they're only in kindergarden.

Note: There is currently no known cure for the Olympic Fever. Studies may suggest that symptoms will slowly decrease, though there is no concrete research confirming this. Now where the heck did I put my cape? 

Blog by: Fierce competitor in Beerolympics and creator of the Komero Hospitality House, Jaime Komer.