5-30 Youth Leadership Camp aka What I did while Jason was being a Tourist

The first day welcoming committee.  (Photo by GAD)
While Jason was off gallivanting around Vanuatu with his mom, I was helping out at a youth leadership development camp. For those of you who have been following this blog for the last year, a lot of this is going to sound familiar. For the rest of you, here’s the quick overview.
Girls Leading Our World and Boys In Leadership Development are the gender specific camps. Last year, Jason and I went and brought a few people from our community. We did sessions about what makes a leader, good communication, healthy relationships, reproductive health, and decision making.
We turned the little boy into a man, at least on paper.
I went back this year. Due to budget cuts, the Gender and Development committee had to do a shortened camp with fewer participants. They laid the blanket rule that no one who had gone last year could go again and then broke it for a few of us. To keep their budget under control, we paid our own way. (Though later, they reimbursed us part of it.)
I took the ship over, which was an impressively uneventful trip. The only event was a last minute shipping schedule change that got me to the camp a day late. Luckily, friends pulled strings for me and I got out to the school at 11 pm and was greeted by a welcoming committee of sleep deprived and stressed out volunteers with big smiles.


Matching the body parts to their names.



The next day was the reproductive health day. I do a lot of reproductive health sessions. I talk about sex a lot. We went down to the water to do the sex talks in a more informal setting. They went really well. We get pretty well into it with the sex stuff. I think I started the day by saying that the penis one of the participants had drawn on the boy was insufficient. It set the right tone for sexual and reproductive health. We discussed menstruation, body changes, safer sex practices, STIs and sexual pleasure and that was just the morning sessions.
Natalie did every exercise with each participant that came to her.
In the afternoon, we played the decision making game. It’s like the choose your own adventure version of Life. The participants start at year 8, which is on the high end of average schooling here. From there, they make decisions about their life choices such as dropping out of school and looking for work, going to a GED program or continuing school. To progress to the next station, they have to do a certain number of exercises which represent the work it takes to get there. At every station they have the option of returning to their village and farming. That is only 10 jumping jacks. Going to work in Vila was 20 pushups, staying in school was 20 squats. The end is a race to see who can win a scholarship to China or Australia, which is a race across the football field and about 5 different exercises along the way. I think it gives them a strong metaphor for life choices and hard work impacting your eventually lifestyle.
That evening, it rained, which meant no tie dye. This is the Peace Corps. There must be tie dye. Instead, we made friendship bracelets and painted the camp banners. I taught a lot of friendship bracelets.



There must be tie dye.



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