This summer, CRP has been running its first Summer Youth Camp for children in our community. Every day, roughly 50 children ages 5 to 14 from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Jordan come to the center and learn, socialize, and have fun together. The camp gives these children the opportunity to interact with those their own age who may come from different backgrounds than themselves, while also teaching them important lessons in language learning (English and Arabic), cooperation, and sharing.
The main purpose of the camp is to keep the children off of the streets of Amman and to invite them to come to CRP and spend time with each other in a fun learning environment. The majority of the children are from villages in Iraq where Arabic is not the daily spoken language. As a result, many of them are afraid of people who speak Arabic because they associate Arabic with the militants that forced them to flee from their homes. The Summer Youth Camp is a safe space for these children to interact with each other and learn values of cooperation and friendship, and it focuses on teaching Arabic and English to the children in an encouraging learning environment.
Every day of the camp has a new theme designed to help the kids learn in a fun, interesting way. In the mornings, our staff and volunteers teach the children vocabulary in English and Arabic that is associated with the daily theme. They then participate in fun activities that utilize the vocabulary and the theme of that day. Some of the themes of the camp this summer include “trip to the moon”, “world countries”, “jungles and animals”, and others. Next week, the children will create their own superheroes and will share the traditions of their homes and families with the rest of the camp.
The Summer Youth Camp has regular volunteers come in to help organize the activities of the camp, and they also bond with the kids during their time working at the camp. Many of them come from universities in the U.S. or Europe, while some are also Jordanians or refugees currently living in Jordan. “Volunteering at CRP is an extremely rewarding experience,” said Liam Nicoll, a volunteer from Bowdoin College in the U.S., “I am proud to assist in the vital stages of educational and social development for children and grateful for the new friends made along the way.”
We have also had special guests come to the camp and work with the children. Mattias Kraemer, an artist who has experience working with youth across the world, came to the camp and taught the children songs and games that were designed to encourage them to embrace their own creativity and imagination. They had a blast as they created their own songs and works of art throughout the day. We also had representatives of the Goethe Institut, a non-profit organization that promotes international cultural exchange, come to the camp and run learning activities for the children.
Mohaned Atari, our youth coordinator, can see the positive effects that the camp is having on the children. “I have known most of these kids since I worked with the After School Club that CRP runs during the school year, and they were all so shy then,” said Mohaned, “Now, I can see cooperation between them, and the older kids are helping the new kids. They’re encouraging them to come to the camp every day, and the older kids have become like their teachers. I feel like we’re empowering these kids, and it’s a good outcome for them.” The Summer Youth Camp has been an important addition to CRP’s summer activities, one that benefits some of the most vulnerable members of our community while providing them with a safe, fun, and interactive space for learning. We hope to continue the camp in the future and have it be a regular part of our yearly activities.