February 2016

Innovative Approaches in International Development Wrap-Up

On Thursday February 25th, Global Camps Africa (GCA) hosted a gathering of expert panelists and thoughtful participants for a discussion on Innovative Approaches in International Development. Natika Washington, Mark Vander Vort, Dr. Gwynn Powell and Phil Lilienthal spoke as the panel of experts for the day.

The event began with an introduction by Emily Crowder, GCA’s Executive Director, who noted GCA’s significant strides in utilizing intentional camp opportunities to combat the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. Recently, GCA has expanded Youth Clubs, bringing children ages 5-11 into the program, added a girls’ and women’s empowerment program, and developed a financial literacy and entrepreneurship curriculum - all implemented through our innovative camp model.

Her remarks were followed by Phil Lilienthal’s perspective in founding the organization, and the historical background that created the backbone of GCA. Phil gave insight into what it was like to take his experience, one that was not from the international development world, and apply it to new people and new cultures. GCA’s successful innovations over the last few years have been rooted in the intentional camp model, the impact of which transcends international borders.

Phil then introduced Mark Vander Vort (Catholic Medical Mission Board), who has worked extensively over the past 30 years in Africa. He recognized the importance of organizations like GCA that work to identify gaps that are currently affecting vulnerable populations and develop programs to address those needs. He spoke about a project he helped create to improve communication between protective services for women and children and health services as a result of understanding the needs on the ground.  

His remarks were followed by Natika Washington (US Department of State) who spoke about the importance of collaboration within the government in addition to the public and private sectors. She discussed the success of the WiSci camp, run by the State Department, which connects girls to new education and leadership opportunities using the camp model.

The panel was concluded by Dr. Gwynn Powell (Clemson University), who co-authored the 5-year evaluation study for GCA. Calling on her background of working internationally and at camps, she spoke about seeing the results in-person at Camp Sizanani and the challenge of sufficiently articulating those results through an evidence-based process. Gwynn found that at the end of the camp, campers showed increased scores on sense of hope, resilience towards life, and HIV knowledge scores. Further, HIV-related stigma beliefs and disclosure concerns were significantly decreased. And while she found this to be an important step, she believes that by collaborating we can create new measurements to assess the “Sizanani Effect.”

A lively discussion session followed the panel’s remarks that included questions from representatives from local camps, the Peace Corps, international development professionals and academic institutions.

Please click here to watch Innovative Approaches in International Development’s livestream to hear all of the remarks and comments from the event.

2016 Spreading the News Annual Gala

Tickets are now available for our annual gala, Spreading the News, on May 7th at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. We are excited to welcome special guests this year, South African vochellis Phili and Tshepo to meet guests, share their experiences, and take part in the festivities.

Your purchase of a ticket or sponsorship package to Spreading the News will go directly toward supporting the South African youth attending our programs. Please join us to help give these young people the chance to experience the fun of camp while they develop skills and confidence that last a lifetime. Purchase a ticket today!

GCA at the American Camp Association Conference in Atlanta


From February 9th through the 12th, GCA’s Phil Lilienthal, President, and Jordan Kough, Development Manager, attended the American Camp Association's 2016 National Conference. It was a great reminder of the special and important ways that camp makes a difference in the lives of young people across the world.   

The conference was kicked off by remarks by Tom Holland, the CEO of ACA and Scott Barry Kaufman, the Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also co-founder of The Creativity Post and author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined.   

Surprisingly, Scott - who earned his B.S. from Carnegie Mellon University, his M.Phil. from King's College, and his Ph.D. from Yale University - was in Special Education classes until the 9th grade. He spoke highly of his experience as a child at camp as a place where he learned confidence in himself and that he was capable of anything.   
The remaining camp-based sessions were a great blend of learning international camp activities, hearing about youth development, learning how other camps measure their outcomes and results, and hearing our own Phil Lilienthal share his experiences from running camp in China last summer.  

Finally, we were excited to see and speak with many past vochellis, including those pictured above:  Gabrielle Raill, Michael Jacobus, and Bev McEntarfer first row, and Gwynn Powell, Don Whipple, and Bernie Agnew (second row with Jordan far left and Phil, 2nd from right).  We met and spoke to Andy Lilienthal, Paul Sheridan, Cheryl Bernknopf, Michael Brandwein, and Bob Ditter. and discussed our future plans for Camp Sizanani. We are glad to have their support and hope to have many more collaborative opportunities with the camping world to come. 

Report from the field - Why are You a Vochelli

This month we are pleased to feature Lerato Nkosi, who has been a vochelli with us for eight years! We hope you enjoy her story as much as we do.  

My name is Lerato Nkosi from Orange Farm, I first joined Camp Sizanani in 2007 December as a Vochelli. Ever since that year and that camp, I have never thought of doing anything other than being a vochelli and being at camp with all the campers and other vochellis.  

Growing up I’ve always loved being around children and making them feel good about themselves, so being a vochelli was exactly what I wanted to be. Growing up I did not really have someone who would be there guiding and teaching me skills that one couldn’t learn from school. Because I got a chance to be a sister, a mother, a friend, a leader, a teacher and an advisor in one go, I was somewhere where my presence and my energy were appreciated and with that I could give more of what I had to offer. Hearing the campers say, “thank you vochelli,”  “I love you vochelli,” “you changed my life vochelli,” “I’m a different person because of you vochelli,” and getting all the appreciation and thank you letters from the vochellis and campers keeps me going and wanting to do more as a vochelli. Camp Sizanani isn’t just a safe place for campers, it’s also a safe haven for vochellis. We are one big family where you are allowed to cry and not be questioned about your tears having a different colour.  

Sizanani is home.  

Look for more Why are You a Vochelli stories in future GCA communications!



Global camps africa drumbeat: January 2016 edition








Global Camps Africa Drumbeat: February 2015 edition

Global Camps Africa Drumbeat: January 2015 Edition

Global Camps Africa Drumbeat: December 2014 Edition

Global Camps Africa Drumbeat: October 2014 Edition

Global Camps Africa Drumbeat: September 2014 Edition

Global Camps Africa Drumbeat: August 2014 Edition

Global Camps Africa Drumbeat: July 2014 Edition

Global Camps Africa Drumbeat: June 2014 Edition

Global Camps Africa Drumbeat:  May 2014 Edition

Global Camps Africa Drumbeat:  March 2014 Edition

Global Camps Africa Drumbeat:  January 2014 Edition