The ongoing heatwave has not deterred 1000 youth from attending the Annual Youth Camp hosted by the Department of Social Development in partnership with the Department of Defence in Bloemfontein – Free State; Potchefstroom – North West Province and Kimberley – Northern Cape.
It was all systems go for the North West Province youth recently, as they started the day with an address by MEC for Social Development in the Province, Mr Hoffman Galeng, who made them aware of their platoons and what the order of the camp would be. The Department of Defence, apart from hosting the camps on the respective Military Bases in the provinces, also serves as the disciplinary authority.
The youth are woken up by members of the South African Defence Force at 5am every morning to clean up their bungalows, shower and get on the field for exercises before the day officially kicks off.
Launched in 2012, the Annual Youth Camps give the youth the platform and opportunity to discuss issues that they are experiencing in their communities. Some of the key dialogues which will be conducted during the camps will be to enable the youth to discuss solutions to societal ills that they face. These include issues of unemployment, HIV infection rates, sustainable development, the rights of persons with disabilities and gender-based violence. The youth also gain skills in various key personal-development areas including business and basic communication.
More than 10 000 young people have participated in youth camp activities since its inception. Most of the youth continue to be active agents of change in their communities and will be giving testimonials during the camps.
Speaking to the youth of North West, MEC for Social Development in the Province, Mr Hoffman Galeng, said the youth need to believe in themselves. “One of the most important values is to be proud of yourself and to embrace all humanity,” he said.
The Executive Mayor, Mr Kgotso Khumalo, echoed the MEC’s sentiments, adding that the youth should remain focused. “The only difference between those who make it and those who don’t is discipline, dedication and commitment,” he said.
Today, it is level playing ground with youth from the Free State and Northern Cape also officially kick-starting their Youth Camp Programme.The youth camps will run over a four-week period with three week-long camps taking place concurrently in different provinces. The first camp, which was held in Kimberly – Northern Cape, was to train mentors in conducting effective camps throughout the country.
“I am looking forward to this provincial camp because I believe it will inform, empower and develop the lives of young people in the North West. One can’t pour from an empty cup. This camp will give the youth a foundation from which to base their decisions,” said Amandla Kuse (28) who is a Youth Development Practitioner from Inqaba Yokulinda, a Gauteng-based youth organisation.