Fourteen young Scout leaders received the opportunity to work at various summer camps in the USA earlier this year through Awesome Travels and the student exchange programme CIEE. Last week they met the Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais, to share their experiences.
Before being selected to work in the USA, all 14 had been volunteers in the 2018 “Scouting-in-Schools” programme, which offers Scouting to disadvantaged learners in Western Cape schools. This programme is run in partnership with the After School Programme and the Western Cape Government.
Aslam Smith from the Cape Flats attended Camp Hazen, a summer camp located in Connecticut and run by the YMCA. The camp gave young kids the opportunity to discover different fun activities whilst challenging themselves. “The US kids were all very friendly and interested in Africa. I was able to teach them some basic skills, like how to light a match or ride a skateboard,” said Aslam. “My experience as a volunteer in local schools gave me the skills to cope as a camp counsellor and taught me how to manage time.” Aslam received a certification as an archery instructor whilst in the USA.
A number of volunteers learnt new sports skills, including Buhle Ndlcini who excitedly explained that he had learnt how to tie zip lines and set up climbing ropes.
Fellow intern leader Litha Nofenela helped to run activities at Campfire Iowa Camp Hantesa. This summer camp took place in Iowa, next to the Des Moines River. “I am the first person in my family who left the country. Everybody was very very proud, also my neighbours, not only my family. This opportunity brought a ‘great light of awareness’ of Scouts in the townships.Through the camp in a foreign country I grew as a person by learning how to talk and work with kids. I also learned leadership, not only how to lead others but also how to lead myself.”
Western Cape Regional Commissioner Paddy Milner explained how the 14 camp counselors had to go through a local application process and then had international interviews via Skype. “I’m very proud of them. It has been wonderful to see how they have grown since they first entered the Scouting-in-Schools programme as unemployed youth with no experience.”
None of the 14 had ever been on an international flight or imagined that they would find their way to the USA. Ahmad Solomon, who coordinates the Scouting-in-Schools programme, addressed the volunteers with the following message: “You are now role models. America is now possible to your communities because you have been there. Do your best and be your best because there are young people looking up to you.”
“You are my heroes,” added Minister Marais. “Thank you for teaching them our South African heart-beat.”
DCAS News Flash: https://www.westerncape.gov.za/gc-news/99/53183
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