I’ve mentioned it a couple times on my blog, but in case you haven’t heard, I’ve been heavily involved in a project that has been among the best experiences of my Peace Corps service. ABLE Camp is a summer camp for boys that aims to instill a sense of leadership and civic duty in young men from the under-served regions of Azerbaijan. ABLE stands for Azerbaijani Boys Leadership Experience. This year will be the fourth annual camp, which was started by Peace Corps Volunteers in 2006. This year, we’ve tried to expand camp to reach more students, as well as incorporate more involvement from our local Azerbaijani counterparts in the management of the camp. We’re planning on bringing 48 students from 15 regions of Azerbaijan. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a video of the camp last year:
ABLE Camp 2009 is funded by four sources:
- The Royal Norwegian Embassy – $16,500
- FLEX Alumni Grants Program – $2,060
- Contributions from the local community – $2,462
- Peace Corps Partnership Program – $2,487
That last bullet, the Peace Corps Partnership Program (written by Jon Elkin a PCV from Boston), is where ABLE Camp needs your help. Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP) is a grant system for Peace Corps Volunteers to develop projects during their service which are funded from individual donors from back home in America. 100% of contributions go to the project itself, which is being managed by Peace Corps Volunteers and other volunteers from the communities in which we serve. By contributing as much as you can to the project, you’ll not only be helping out the PCVs in their efforts, but you’ll also be assisting the youth of Azerbaijan.
These kids that come to camp have demonstrated to be among the best and brightest in their communities. ABLE Camp is not only a reward for the hard work that they’ve demonstrated, but also a great chance to sit down with these kids and give them the confidence, knowledge, and skills they will need to be the future generation’s leaders. One of the anectodes from camp that is always passed on to new PCVS is that one day during the 2nd ABLE Camp one of the campers was so excited to be a part of camp that he stood up and yelled “This is the best day of my life!” I didn’t see that happen myself, but I know from my experience at ABLE that the experience will absolutely stay with these campers for the rest of their lives.
The camp itself is divided into three main components:
- Participatory Information Sessions
- Team Building Activities
- Project Planning
Information Sessions explain concepts of leadership, teamwork, and community responsibility to the campers. Team Building Activities reinforce these concepts. Finally, campers discuss issues that they see in their own communities and use the concepts discussed at camp to create community projects that aim to make their communities better. Past examples of these projects include a clothes-drive for a local orphanage and informing their fellow students about a study abroad opportunity. The projects are admittedly small in scale, but they provide a valuabe experience for the campers that they will build on for the rest of their lives.
To donate to ABLE Camp, please click this link that will take you to the Peace Corps Partnership website. Please contribute as much as you can. At this time, we’ve recived $150 from a kind soul out there, leaving us with $2,137 to go. Even a small donation gets us closer to holding camp for these kids. Please feel free to send the link above, or a link to this blog to spread the word about this project.
Thanks for your time. If you’ve got a question about ABLE Camp, please email me or leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you promptly.