Azerbaijanis Go to Camp
As an Eagle Scout, I have clear and distinct memories of getting up early to get ready for a day of Boy Scout camp, singing catchy-but-terrible camp tunes, re-learning how to tie various knots, sitting around a campfire, and getting ready for the big Capture the Flag game mid-week. Camp was a great time, homesickness and practical jokes included.
So what is there do to but bring that awesome experience to Azerbaijani boys? Thus, we have ABLE Camp, the Azerbaijani Boys Leadership Experience. It’s obviously not totally like the Boy Scout camp from my days at Long Lake. First, there was no lake. Second, we had watermelon at every meal. That was excellent. I fully support watermelon at every summer camp meal ever. Oh, and these were Azeri kids. Good luck finding an Azeri Boy Scout.
ABLE Camp is a way for us Peace Corps Volunteers to bring together our best boys from the regions and push them a bit to think outside of their normal day-to-day lives. It’s been going on a for a few years now. Former FLEX students serve as our camp counselors and translators, and they teach sessions for our boys on the concepts of leadership, teamwork, creativity, and more. And we have guest speakers come to speak about things such as HIV/AIDS and environmental issues. We went up to a vacation spot in İsmayllı, a mountainside layout with cabins, surrounding fields and the city below, mountain peaks above. There’s a great spot for a bonfire and we only had to look out for the cows wandering down off the mountain at the end of the day. During the week, daily activities included morning exercises (with extra running on the mountain for those who were late to sessions or misbehaving), team time, low ropes course activities, and other games like soccer and frisbee. And who could forget about the mandatory games of Capture the Flag (regular and Counselors vs. Campers!) and the last-night Dance Competition (drop it like it’s hot). I’ll have some more thoughts on what went on at camp through the week. Also, you should know that while we put this together for Azerbiaijani boys, there’s a counterpart camp run for girls here, called GLOW: Girls Leading Our World, last year’s account and this year’s. This is life-changing stuff for Azerbaijani youth, people.