Launched in 2012, the Youth Camp Programme gives the youth a platform and opportunity to discuss issues they are experiencing in their communities.
The dialogues conducted during the camps enable youth to discuss solutions to societal ills, including unemployment, HIV infection rate, sustainable development, the rights of persons with disabilities and gender-based violence (GBV).
The youth also gain skills in various key personal development areas, including business and basic communication.
Since its inception, more than 10 000 young people have participated in youth camp activities and continue to be active agents of change in their communities. The youth also give testimonials during the camps.
The camps are hosted by the Department of Social Development in partnership with the Department of Defence in Bloemfontein the Free State, North West and Northern Cape.
By Monday, youth in the North West were ready for the camp before being addressed by the MEC for Social Development, Hoffman Galeng. They had already been made aware of their platoons and what the order of the camp would be.
The Department of Defence, apart from hosting the camps on the respective military bases in the provinces, also serves as the disciplinary authority.
The youth are woken up by members of the South African Defence Force at 5am every morning to clean up their bungalows, shower and get on the field for exercises before the day officially kicks off.
Galeng encouraged youth to believe in themselves. “One of the most important values is to be proud of yourself and to embrace all humanity.”
Executive Mayor of JB Marks, Kgotso Khumalo, echoed Galeng’s sentiments, saying youth should remain focused. “The only difference between those who make it and those who don’t is discipline, dedication and commitment.”
Youth Development Practitioner from Inqaba Yokulinda, a Gauteng-based youth organisation, Amandla Kuse, aged 28, said the camp will inform, empower and develop the lives of young people in the North West.
“One can’t pour from an empty cup. This camp will give the youth a foundation from which to base their decisions,” Kuse said.
The youth camps in Free State and Northern Cape officially started on Tuesday. The camps will run over a four-week period, with three week-long camps taking place concurrently in different provinces.
The first camp was recently held in Kimberley, where mentors were trained in conducting effective camps throughout the country.