Empowering rural youth through leadership camps, games, sports, and skills training

Empowering youth to become strong leaders and responsible citizens is a forefront of URF’s work in rural communities. This goal is accomplished through youth programs such as youth camps, leadership training, peer counseling, sports, education tours, and skills training. This blog was written by a URF intern, Gregory Forsberg from Canada about his experience at one of the camps.

“I arrive early as students setup for the youth camp. Between fifty and sixty youth came to Hope Academy to participate. Boys and girls sign in and are sent to their quarters, or wander the campus until festivities begin.

After everyone settles down, Leandrea, another intern, leads the youth in a serious of games. The first, and a personal favourite once I discovered it in february is the smile game. It is played here a little differently, but the basic premise is the same. In this
instance, two teams are trying to make one team. Each team takes turns over people to get a key, if the person can go from point a to point b, grab the key and make it half way back without smiling they get a turn, if they smile, they have to join the opposing team. This proves to be a well received game, young boys and girls jeer, make rude gestures, and beckon to slightly embarassed but enthusiastic members of the opposing team. When this starts to wear thin, a game of modified tag is employed and utter chaos ensues. Everyone is “it”. The trick is everyone has a single hand behind their back, and if it gets tagged by anyone else, they are out. The field in front of Hope erupts into youth driven madness, human shields, dodging, even the occasional “you did not get me” which brought me back to my own youth.

Seperated into three teams, each team is responsible for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I came across Ronald Kasimbi, and a few others as he stirred beans in a large pot. Kasimbi is an active member of almost every URF event. Always chipper, always smiling, he has mc’d the international women’s day, he’s participating in the mini videos for URF, in the youth camp, and many other projects. A campfire is made, and many speeches by teachers and leaders are made in Ugandan.

The weekend is numerous talks on professionalism, alcohol and it’s role in Uganda, the importance of education, talks on coming to maturity, and communication skills (hosted by yours truly).

Saturday night the youth showcase their dance, lip-synching, and eating talents. More than 30 youth participated in the talent show, showcasing suprisingly amazing dance moves, crowd moving gestures, and an eating contest involving bread, endizi (bananas), and a boiled egg. 4 boys entered, one boy won.

The youth end their weekend with a dance. A room with barred windows and speakers brought in from who knows where kicks off an enthusiastic event. I end my weekend with a trip to a nearby village for roadside roasted chicken.”

food time

eating competition