The conversation settled on an endeavor he wanted to take on. For the past 5 years Peace Corps Samoa has run a fantastic camp, which highlights leadership for girls. He believed the time had come for the boys to have their own. I whole-heartedly agreed. At the conclusion of the weekend a group of volunteers came together to make this idea a reality.
Boys United In Leadership Development (BUILD) came into fruition with the diligent work of our planning committee. In the months between February and October we worked hard to secure food, speakers, and a venue where the first annual BUILD would take place. This may seem like an ample amount of time, but our team is spread out over an entire country. This makes meeting and planning quite tricky. Many of us spent money out of our own pockets to make this happen. This amazing camp could not have happened without these outstanding volunteers.
Now, what is BUILD? It was two-day conference hosting boys from grades six and seven from each of the volunteer’s schools. 30 boys participated from ten different schools from across the nation. The goal was to provide skills to enable these young men to become future leaders within their community. The three major topics covered were: Success in school and work, ending violence in Samoa, and healthy bodies/healthy minds. The conference took place at the distinguished St. Joseph’s college (high school) located on the outskirts of the capital. Our partnership worked smoothly even though school was in session. The boys who attended will soon be moving on to college, so this was a wonderful opportunity for them to see what the next step in their education will be like. A giant thank you is in order for St. Josephs for being incredible hosts.
Various speakers, activities, and field trips were orchestrated to present the content in a manner, which best relates to the boys. For example the boys had the opportunity to learn about potential career fields, such as professional cooking, electrician, farming, welding, and plumbing, at school that provides 6-month scholarships for Pacific Islanders. Before this field trip many of the students may not have thought of these careers as a possibility. Next, a discussion about violence led to the boys preparing skits on how to handle different types of violence within their communities. It was great to see boys from different villages openly talking about this topic. Lastly, we covered healthy bodies. We invited the Special Olympics of Samoa to not only discuss health, but also the abilities of all. The boys were taught how to play butt soccer beside Special Olympic athletes. The most amazing part of the event was watching the athletes taking a leadership role among the boys on their teams. The boys didn’t miss a beat. It was truly an inspiring moment to watch the boys realize the athletes were just like them.
The conference itself was frenzy behind the scenes as we volunteers made sure things went smoothly. The food team had the roughest job as they woke up extremely early to prepare each breakfast. They were the true mvp’s of the camp. At points we all jumped to action to lead the boys, make runs into town for supplies, or even give presentations ourselves. All of the volunteers were essential and their hard work truly paid off in making this a great experience for the participant. As a first ever camp of its kind in Samoa we look forward to what the future holds. We hope to watch it grow into something truly sustainable and amazing as time progresses. Now, when do we begin planning for next year?
Thank you to all the sponsors, speakers, volunteers, and to those who donated to make this simple idea a reality. The camp was a giant success and it wouldn’t have been possible without you.