Ghana Youth Camp and FOI Project
From Tom Clark: One of the highlights for the teens in Ghana is the chance to attend the CYC – Ghana summer camp. The camp is held every other year and hosts 100 teens who regularly attend Sabbath services with their families around the country. This year we also had five teens and two young adults from Nigeria who traveled over for the camp as well, bringing our total numbers to nearly 125 campers and staff. The camp was held from Aug. 14 to 20 in Kumasi, Ghana.
The Ghana Youth Camp is one of the projects sponsored by Foundation Outreach International. This project provides a wonderful opportunity for young adults from developed countries, primarily the United States, to travel to West Africa and set a positive example while serving our Ghanaian teens.
In the native language of Twi, a white man (or woman) is called an obruni. And we were privileged to have seven obruni volunteers serving at the camp this year! There were five FOI volunteers: Cliff Demarest (an FOI board member), Derek Demarest, Daniel Clark, Gabriella Kroska and Alyssa Degagne. Additionally, we had Cody and Bobbi Kitts along. They have a long-standing relationship with the Nigerian brethren, so it was helpful for them to be there and serve on staff.
We arrived in Ghana a few days early, and the volunteers were able to tour several sites of cultural and historical significance in Ghana, including the Elmina Castle, a former slave holding and trading castle; Kakum National Park, which has suspended bridges that allow one to walk up into the canopy of the tropical rainforest; and the Manhyia Palace Museum, located in the former palace of the Ashanti king. Then we were off to the camp!
We started each day of camp with a 50-minute Christian Living class focused on the theme of camp. The camp in Ghana used the same theme that is used for COGWA’s U.S. camps, and this year it was “Vision: Seeing Clearly in a Clouded World.” Each of these classes helped focus the campers’ attention on the importance of seeing life and decisions from God’s perspective. When we strip away the false standards used by most people today, it makes the right answer to those decisions so much easier to see. Our vision is clearer!
Many of the activities will be familiar to those who have attended camps stateside: volleyball, team challenge, arts and crafts, soccer (known as football overseas), ultimate Frisbee and kickball (played like baseball, but with a rubber ball you kick). And we added a new activity this year—slingshots. It is something most had never done, and they enjoyed setting up plastic bottles and working to refine their technique so they could knock the bottles down from increasing distances.
We also had an education class, taught by Daniel Botha, who is a certified teacher employed by the school system in Kumasi. A good education is so important to a young person who wants to have a good job and improve his and his family’s lot in life. But it is not easy to obtain and is often not valued in the developing world. So Daniel explained not only the importance of focusing on getting the best education possible, but also gave tips and answered questions from the campers on how to take advantage of the educational opportunities they have.
A life skills class is not something we’ve had in the past, but we added it this year. For the boys, I covered lessons from the life of Joseph and drew important points they can apply to themselves if they wish to grow into godly young men. For the girls, I drew lessons from the life of Ruth. Once again, I gave a number of salient points they can begin to apply to themselves now if they wish to grow into godly young women.
We provide our own food for the camp, and the food service is headed by Esther Dima, wife of our Kumasi pastor Reuel Dima. She has very competently handled this responsibility for several years and this year demonstrated not only her competence but her creativity! Due to some unexpected changes with the facilities, we found ourselves without use of the camp’s kitchen when we arrived! Esther had an awning set up in the yard, and by making careful use of three large propane burners, she and her staff set about cooking three meals a day for the camp and carrying it all down to the dining hall! But throughout all of it, the kitchen staff never spoke a word of complaint to me! They knew what had to be done, and they simply found a way to make it happen!
The final day of camp was Sabbath, Aug. 19. We combined with most of the local Kumasi brethren, filling the hall nicely! Cliff Demarest and Cody Kitts each gave split sermons. It was a different experience for them, because they spoke both Sabbaths we were there, and many of the local brethren do not understand English well, or at all. They had to speak a phrase and then wait for it to be translated into Twi. The speaking style takes some getting used to before it becomes comfortable, but both did an admirable job!
This was our first time to use this facility, and we had to work through some difficulties. But as the staff observed our campers and activities, they were very favorably impressed and told the manager they need to have more people like us use their property!
On the last Sabbath, something else rather unexpected happened. Unbeknownst to any of us, the manager of the facility stood outside the room during most of services. As she listened, the messages made a large impact on her. So, following camp, she contacted Mr. Dima. In the process of the conversation, she asked for a subscription to Discern magazine as well as several of our booklets! It will be interesting to see where this may go, especially since this facility is owned and run by the Catholic Church in Ghana.
The young people in Ghana are grateful to the work and sacrifice of the volunteers as well as the contributions from FOI that make this camp possible.