David Miller to Join Global Camps Africa's Board of Directors

Reston, VA. -February 8, 2018  Global Camps Africa (GCA), a non-profit organization based in Reston, has added David Miller to its Board of Directors.  For the past 20 years, David and his  wife, Allison have been the Owners/Directors of Camp Starlight, a private summer camp located in Starlight, Pennsylvania. David truly believes that camp friends are forever and the opportunity to change and impact the lives of campers and counselors is a lifelong dream.  Global Camps Africa uses camp programs to equip South Africa’s vulnerable youth with the tools to lead healthy, empowered lives and make positive impacts on their communities.

David with his daughter, Hayley, who also works at Camp Starlight,  volunteered as a counselor at Camp Sizanani in 2017.  GCA’s President and Founder, Philip Lilienthal, recalls, “David came to camp and instinctively knew what was needed. He is an experienced camp director and knew he wanted to bring his talents to South Africa.”

David says, “The experience of volunteering with my daughter, as a Vochelli at Camp Sizanani in March of 2017 was life-changing.”  After David returned to the US, he wanted to continue to assist Camp Sizanani’s South African camp director, Kabelo, in honing his skills.  David paid for Kabelo to come to the US and visit Camp Starlight and two others American camps, where Kabelo gained experience and knowledge that help him at Camp Sizanani in South Africa.

David is a respected member of a Wayne County Camp Alliance (PA) camp directors group and is a frequent presenter at the Tri-State Camp Conference. He will be joining 13 other Board Members in furthering Global Camps Africa mission to help at-risk children.

About Global Camps Africa

Since 2003, GCA has changed the lives of over 8,500 orphans and vulnerable children through the power of camp.  Camp Sizanani, GCA’s flagship program in South Africa,  provides a safe space for interactive and experiential learning, reflection, and skills-acquisition in a joyful setting. Some examples include:

  • HIV/AIDS Prevention: Safe sex, reproductive rights, safe relationships, testing opportunities and referrals to partner agencies.

  • Self-sufficiency: Financial literacy, entrepreneurship, microfinance, and live-market field test days for alumni and youth-club participants.

  • Healthy Habits: Learning to swim, understanding nutrition, exercise and yoga/meditation practices.

 

For more information, please contact Emily Crowder (emily@globalcampsafrica.org).

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Report from the Field: Camp Sizanani Goes On! December 2017

By Kabelo Malefane, Camp Sizanani Life Skills Program Director

In December Camp Sizanani had its 85th camp!  Campers and vochellis worked together to make this session of Camp Sizanani truly impactful.

A highlight for me was addressing the ongoing problem of school-aged children who struggle with academics in South Africa.  During the year, our youth club participants told us that it would be helpful to be supported at clubs with their academics.  We know the academic support will also improve attendance our local clubs, so a decision was then taken to see how we could have university students who are also tutors around Johannesburg come to camp and tutor our campers in Mathematics and Science.

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We had 3 volunteers from Goodi Tutors come to camp and they joined us for vochelli training week.  In it they found useful tools to make them better prepared for when the campers arrived.  Tutoring classes were held at the end of the day.  Right away we found that one 14-year old camper wasn't able to read and didn't recognize numbers, reminding us once again of the importance of providing this support at camp.

The campers really enjoyed the tutoring sessions, and we're planning to include this in our youth club schedule so that camper needs can be taken care of in the form of offering homework supervision and school curricular assistance focusing on Mathematics, Science, and English.

Great minds were once again together at this camp and managed to develop the spark it usually brings out of each child and youth who gets to come to camp! Campers enjoyed learning about HIV and AIDS, stigma, healthy eating habits, sports, adventure, and practicing yoga and meditation.  

Looking Back to Go Forward

The impact of youth camps on education, employment, sexual health and parenting in South Africa

by Sydni Brecher

When you are enthralled in the fun and activities at Camp Sizanani, Global Camps Africa’s flagship program in South Africa, the larger impact on the children participating in the program may not be immediately recognizable.  After all, children at camp is a familiar scene for most of us. That’s why Jane Simmonds, a South African public health program evaluator, with support from faculty at Witwatersrand University in South Africa, set out to evaluate Camp Sizanani’s influential experience and gauge its success through her research. For Global Camps Africa, she answered the question: what lasting impact does the Camp Sizanani experience have on the health and wellbeing of the children who participate in this program?

Over 8,000 children have attended Camp Sizanani since Global Camps Africa was founded in 2003. Since our inception, our goal has been to help prepare vulnerable youth in South Africa with the necessary tools to lead healthy, empowered lives and make positive impacts on their communities. The evaluation study aimed to examine Camp Sizanani’s success at having positive life and health outcomes in South African youth. Through comparative methodology, Simmonds and her colleagues interviewed 269 children: 113 former campers and 156 and non-campers from Soweto, Orange Farm, and Poortjie. The study’s results demonstrated a positive relationship between youth development and attending Camp Sizanani.

Here are the fast facts we learned from Jane Simmond’s evaluation study:

  • Approximately ninety-one percent of former campers were aware of their HIV status compared to the South African national average of seventy-six percent. Simmonds credits this achievement to their attendance at camp.

  • Former campers were three times more likely to have had an HIV test than non-campers.

  • Male and female campers yielded a higher condom usage during first sex, most recent sex, and consistently.

  • Male campers are nearly four times more likely to use condoms during their first sexual encounter than non-campers. Females also had a higher rate of condom usage.

  • Approximately seventy percent of former campers attended Youth Clubs prior to camp and after attending, seventy-six percent of former campers attended Youth Clubs for more than three months.

Simmond’s research taught Global Camps Africa a great deal about what we have accomplished since we began. Not only did we receive many positive results, but we also learned ways to improve specific pieces of programming that will increase our impact even further.   In addition to all the many different aspects of our programs' outcomes that this evaluation took into consideration, we can also qualitatively measure each camper’s personal experience...the ways that each child’s self-perception is deeply and forever changed by the education, empowerment, and support that they gain at Camp Sizanani.  For that, we look to the stories we hear directly from our campers.  Please visit www.globalcampsafrica.org/one-question-five-answers to read about how Lebo, Mpho, Edna, Thabo, and Naledi feel their lives have changed after attending Camp Sizanani.

The insight we gain from our campers’ stories, together with the evaluation results from Simmonds’ study, inspire us to innovate and expand our programs so that we can continue meet our campers where they are with the tools they need.

Campers Plan Mandela Day of Service with Bowmans

By Kim Posthumus

We visited the new Bowman offices in Sandton and four campers from our Youth Advisory Council presented their ideas for community service at the Banakekeleni Orphanage in Alexandra Township.  The main request was for raising the height of the security wall, as they have had a number of break-ins. 

It was really special for the campers to be invited to the Bowmans Law offices.  The kids had a great time, one of them named Thembi wants to be a lawyer when she grows up.  The kids were all shocked when Fatima, an attorney at Bowmans, told them she was from Alexandra Township herself! Everyone left inspired and feeling good about their efforts.

The next week, the group went with the handyman that is connected with Bowman to visit the orphanage.  They talked about the best ways to work together to build the wall and make other needed repairs.  Our next step is to return with an evaluation team from Bowmans to determine how much the project will cost and how much financial support Bowmans is able to provide.  We're excited to see our Youth Clubs leading this important project in their community.  Stay tuned to see how it turns out on Nelson Mandela Day!

First Annual Epstein-Brill Financial Literacy & Entrepreneurship Program Market Day

South Africa is faced with a challenge of limited and poor participation of young people in the economy, resulting in unemployment and low entrepreneurial activity, which means that young people are not acquiring the skills and experience they need to assist in driving the economy forward. The Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship Program (FLEP) assumes that when entrepreneurship is taught at an early stage, children are better prepared to identify and take advantage of economic opportunities at their disposal. Therefore, increasing entrepreneurial skills of children and youth to achieve sustainable livelihoods encourages them to be more resourceful and creative in realizing their full economic potential. Entrepreneurship education allows children and youth to explore career paths that match personal interest while building several skills that will best serve them in their chosen profession or vocation. 

FLEP provides a course structure detailing the target age group as well as the module structure with specific units per age group. The objectives of FLEP are to: 

- Create an appreciation of the value money and other resources; 
- Recognise how spending decisions have an impact on one’s life and that of the families and the community; 
- Create the ability to engage in financial negotiations and make smart consumer choices; 
- Help young people plan and use acquired resources to obtain products and services they need; 
- Enable young people to evaluate information about products and services to make informed decisions about spending, saving, borrowing and investing; 
- Understand how to adjust in personal budget in response to financial challenges; 
- Create the ability to compare costs, benefits and trade-offs before deciding how to use the money and resources; 
- Increase awareness and interest in entrepreneurship as a potential career option; 
- Improve the perception and attitudes towards entrepreneurship. 

These objectives were translated into a training manual. A total of 16 vochellis representing 5 Clubs were trained on the FLEP manual. Out of the 16, 14 attended the full course and four were selected to take FLEP during the pilot phase. A decision was taken to pilot in two clubs – Poortjie and Orange Farm. It was also agreed that both pilots would focus on the 12 years and older children. The pilot would be used to test the curriculum and prove the viability of FLEP as one of the activities to be provided during the Club and Camp sessions. 

The 22 sessions culminated into The Market Day was held on the 6 May 2017. All the logistics for the Market Day were done by the GCA/Sizanani office staff.  Nine camper-run businesses participated and were evaluated by the panel of experts.  We are so proud of each camper's hard work, and look forward to continuing to support them as they consider the next steps in their entrepreneurial journeys.