By Emiko Perea
Brandon unsteadily stepped onto a rope bridge, hesitant as it shook violently as he moved across it.
Realizing that his nerves were making it more difficult to cross, he calmed himself down to stop the bridge from shaking. He overcame his fear and passed the bridge, running to the next part of the obstacle circuit. Brandon stepped up on a steep slope, his shoes filled with mudslide against the terrain. He tried to move up the slope, but he kept sliding backward. Nearly discouraged, his fellow campers came to his aid and wiped the mud off his shoes. He tried climbing up again. His feet found enough friction to pull himself up. He climbed up and up. Reaching the top, Brandon basked in his sense of achievement for overcoming his fears and pushing forward with the support of his fellow teammates.
Brandon was one of the volunteers that took part in an obstacle course and other activities for a youth program in Sarawak, Malaysia. Global Peace Foundation empowered disadvantaged youth in a three-day Midnight Football Camp in March. The camp was not only a fun activity to bring youth together, but it also brought out their potential through football training, character-building workshops, and outdoor activities.
Campers practiced creativity, teamwork, and resourcefulness in a variety of activities.
In a “Restaurant Challenge,” youth designed, planned, and operated makeshift restaurants within an hour. They demonstrated their creativity, creating dishes with limited resources for the volunteers acting as customers at their restaurant.
During the Bamboo Cooking activity, participants divided into groups to cook dishes using bamboo. Admirably, campers did well utilizing their surroundings to maintain the fire for cooking, protecting it with banana leaves from the sudden, heavy rain. As a testament to the youths’ determination, they were able to serve innovative dishes for both activities.
Teams were composed of both participants and facilitators, developing trust among each other during the Blind Trail activity that required groups to navigate terrain at night while blindfolded, relying on others in their group for guidance. Even when some of them nearly slipped down a slope, they were able to walk away safely. Another night, the teams shared personal stories and lessons with each other. After they opened up to each other, they shared a lighthearted time singing songs by the campfire.
The youth were able to receive proper training for football, something the disadvantaged youth did not have easy access to before. Because of the training, on the last day of the camp, the youth displayed their developed skills in a football competition. Around this time, the participants were asked to create dream boards with images of their hopes for the future. Some wanted to join the army, become football players, and others just wanted to spend time with their families.
“I discovered that it’s not about volunteering but about improving myself and getting to know about social issues that city dwellers like myself tend to be oblivious about,” said Brandon, recalling his experiences. “I feel more confident now to mingle with people from all walks of life. Never stop contributing to creating a better society.”
Programs like the Midnight Football Camp give disadvantaged youth the support they need to bring out their potential in leadership and teamwork to work toward their dreams for the future. GPF hopes that volunteers remain inspired to continue to make a difference through programs like these.
Sign up for monthly newsletters for the latest from Global Peace Foundation.