Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Notes on Youth Camp

As evidenced by This American Life's oft-mentioned "Notes on Camp" episode, for many Americans summer camps are a fun and exciting part of growing up. Kids get to meet new friends, do arts and crafts, play sports, sing songs, act out skits – the list of possible activities is endless. Good summer camp programs can be really fun, and they also help young people develop independence, confidence, social skills, critical thinking, athleticism, and creativity. I had the good fortune to be a camper (and then counselor) Camp Unalayee, the best summer camp in the whole wide world. I learned to backpack, read a map, cook over a fire, improvise costumes, climb mountains, and make friendship bracelets - all skills that have come in handy as a Peace Corps Volunteer. 

Go Camp U! (That's me in the red.)
The Trinity Alps, CA, USA
In Senegal, most boys and girls not only miss out on the chance to go to summer camp, but they also don’t really get to spend time in places where creative thinking, problem-solving, and appreciation for the natural world are encouraged. In an effort to bring these things to local young people volunteers have worked on a variety of camp programs over the years, through Peace Corps, USAID, and NGOs. Last year my host sister Mariama (below, center, with two of her camp friends) had a great time at a Peace Corps-facilitated summer camp. This year, we decided to coordinate a Youth Leadership Camp for middle school students from around the region this coming March. This camp will have classic team-building activities, life skills sessions, interactive environmental education activities, career talks, health education sessions, and time for kids to just have fun with other kids during their spring break.

The volunteers of Kédougou are excited about the camp and are really looking forward to giving Senegalese kids from our local communities the chance to experience all the joys and growth experiences that a camp has to offer. Our camp is a Peace Corps Partnership Project, which means that it will be funded by a contribution from the community and by the financial support of donors from around the world. If you're interested in participating in this project or in making a donation in honor of a friend or loved one this holiday season, please take a minute to check out the link:

UPDATE: Thanks to the generosity of a number of donors this project has been fully funded! 

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