Camp G2LOW

It’s that time of year again! Time to start fundraising for Camp G2LOW!

Raise your hand if you have ever been to summer camp. I bet that the majority of my blog readers have at some point in their life attended some sort of summer camp. The camp experience is a unique one that can change a child’s life.

I have been on both sides of the camp experience as a counselor and camper and there is something truly magical about the camp experience. Being away from home (maybe for the first time), meeting new people, learning new things, and having fun all aid in a child’s development.

Unfortunately many children in Africa never get to experience a camp.  Camps are costly and many students spend their summers tending their fields that provide food for their families.

Camp   G2LOW (Girls and Guys Leading Our World) is an already well-established national camp happening annually in 22 Peace Corps countries around the world. Burkina Faso became the 23rd country to host Camp G2LOW in August 2011, starting the first edition of Camp G2LOW at the regional level in the cities of Kaya and Boromo. Our goal is to add two more regions each year until it reaches the national level with a two week long camp: one week of boys and one week of girls. Next year, in 2012, we hope to expand Camp G2LOW to include not only Kaya and Boromo, but also Léo and Fada as well. That way the camp will touch four different regions of the country.

I will be working the Fada N’Gourma  Camp in the Eastern Region This summer.

The camp trains 6eme and 5eme (6th and 7th grade) boys and girls and focuses on three main themes: healthy living practices, leadership development, and the promotion of gender equality. Some of our sessions during 2011 included:

  • Men as partners/developing equality
  •  Leadership
  • Hygiene and sanitation
  • Effects of alcohol and cigarette consumption
  • Healthy relationships
  • Effective communication skills
  • Self-esteem
  • Reproductive and sexual education
  • Family planning
  • Making the right decisions
  • Planning for the future
  • What is violence?
  • Career panel with Burkinabe businessmen and women

In 2011, the Peace Corps Burkina Faso team of volunteers and staff put forth a lot of effort to reassure the community participation and sustainability of the camp. Villages were requested to choose 4 girls and 4 boys to attend the camp based on their school performance and character. They also helped to choose a host country national (HCN) to work with each Peace Corps volunteer (PCV) and to help be a counselor during the camp after completion of a comprehensive training. Communities also helped pay for student transport, housing, and materials.

In 2012 there were 4 camps across Burkina Faso in Kaya, Fada, Leo, and Dedougou. I worked with 15 other volunteers in Kaya to give kids an American camp experience in a Burkinabe setting.

In 2013 there are planned camps in Fada, Banfora, Dedougou and Leo and possibly Kaya. The goal for these camps is to build on the strong foundation of two years of successful Camp G2LOW programs and make these even more sustainable and have them run and organized entirely by Host Country Nationals with minimal assistance from PCVs

In order for Camp G2LOW to take place again in 2013, in addition to the 25% community contribution by the villages involved, Burkina Faso PCVs as well as Burkina Faso HCNs must raise $44,000. This is where your generosity can help!  With your help and donations, we will be able to achieve our goal.  Any donations, big or small, are greatly appreciated.  We are hoping to raise $24,000 through the help of our family and friends through the Peace Corps Partnership Program.  If you are interested in making a 100% tax-deductible donation and would like more information on how to donate, please go to

Two weeks in four different cities. 60 middle school aged students a week.  Giving students a week to just be kids. Giving students a week to learn more about their bodies and how to make good decisions. Developing tomorrow’s leaders.

Camps change lives. Please donate to Camp G2LOW.  I worked this camp last year and it was incredible to see the effect of the American summer camp experience here in Burkina Faso. It works, it empowers, it changes lives.Give a Burkinabe child the gift of a summer they will never forget!

Camp G2LOW Kaya 2012 Debrief

It has been a whirlwind 10 days. I just got back from Kaya today after having a wonderful camp with 58 girls and 53 boys from the Centre-Nord region of Burkina Faso. We talked about gender, HIV/AIDS prevention,  violence, harassment, sexual education and reproductive health, hygiene, and action planning.

We had a three day training of trainers (TOT) with our Burkinabe counterparts and one night we went to a bar to catch part of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremonies. The ironic thing is that we couldn’t hear the ceremonies because the DJ was blasting music for the patrons. Fortunately the owners were nice enough to let us sit in their office and watch the parade of nations and judge their uniforms. I thought that Mali had the nicest outfits made of white bazin fabric and gold embroidery (Super classy).

During the camp, I led sessions on action planning, led ice breakers, and was in charge of a team (Groupe 8, Les Panthers!)  of 9 campers, 5 boys, and 4 girls along with a Burkinabe counterpart. We had a great team of 15 PCV facilitators and 15 Burkinabe counterparts including a CampMaman, who was also in charge of our food.

This camp was not without its challenges. First of all, right now in BF it’s Ramadan (Kareme) which meant that many facilitators and students would not eat during daylight hours. This also led to some facilitators not sitting with their teams at meals, which left their co-facilitators alone with their teams for long periods of time. It’s also rainy season in BF which means malaria. We had many campers who were sick with malaria who contracted it before they arrived at camp. (Malaria has 10-14 days of dormancy before symptoms start). We also had a camper who had sickle cell anemia, and no one (including her parents/guardian) told us about it until she started having episodes. We were lucky that someone from her village could pick her up from camp and take her back home.

We also made sure to have plenty of fun including learning how to dance the YMCA, Kilos! (a clapping cheer). A talent show, Alaska Tag, a campfire, songs, condom games,  and other general counselor silliness and tomfoolery.

I also thoroughly enjoyed my time in Kaya. I visited the marche several times, and got a bunch of leather products. (Kaya is known to have some of the finest leatherwork in Burkina). I am definitely looking forward to next year and using some of the materials in the CampG2LOW manual.

Thank you to all who donated money to the Peace Corps Partnership Program to make this happen. We could not have done it without you.

Kudos to Camp G2LOW Kaya Team 2012! We did it!



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