At the beginning of December, I headed to my nearest town to participate in Hardap Region’s first ever Camp YEAH (Youth Exploring and Achieving in Health).
I was there with several other volunteers from around the region (and a few visitors from up north), some Namibian facilitators and 30 of the best learners in the region.
Camp started off with a welcoming day in which learners were told what the camp was all about. This was the Teen Pregnancy version of the camp in which the learners learned all about sexual health, the male and female reproductive system, consent, going through puberty, and how to use a condom properly.
For those of you out there clutching your pearls and screaming out “HOW DARE YOU TEACH 12-18 YEAR OLDS ABOUT SEX ABSTINENCE IS THE ONLY WAY!!!” *faints*…. GET OVER YOURSELVES. Sex education is super important and it is very important for young people to learn. Abstinence only education is not effective. At all. If I were standing in front of you, I’d throw a bunch of condoms at you. Have a nice day.
The first evening of camp kicked off with a facilitator – presented drama in which we demonstrated the type of partner that was less than ideal. It involved me dressing up as a man. In Luke’s clothes. It was a lot of fun.
The next day, we kicked off all of our activities. The learners talked about teenage pregnancy and how it impacts our lives. We talked about the male and female reproductive system and how the work and how they change during puberty. We also talked about menstruation. We talked about the challenges that come with being a woman or being a man (this part was awesome because the learners really opened up).
The first full day of camp fell on December 1, which is World AIDS Day. That night, the learners were taken outside and each were given a candle. They were told to think about their loved ones and anyone they knew who had been impacted by HIV and AIDS. They were then able to share their stories if they were comfortable. The whole evening was very powerful and moving.
My favorite part of the entire camp was the teenage pregnancy simulation. We had several different stations set up: Dreams (making collages about our dreams and goals), Education (making origami boxes), and the carnival (playing games). A handful of learners (both boys and girls) were selected to be teenage parents. At any time during the simulation the teenage parents would be pulled out by disrupters with excuses such as “Your baby is crying, make it stop!” or “Your baby is sick, take it to the clinic now now!” or “I don’t want to watch your baby anymore, take it.” and they would be taken out of their station from anywhere between 30 seconds and 10 minutes. This simulation is used to demonstrate the responsibilities that come with being a teenage parent and how it can create obstacles in fulfilling the responsibilities we already have.
Another part I thoroughly enjoyed was our conversation about consent. This is a topic that is very important to me and the work that I have done throughout my entire time at college. To be honest, I wasn’t totally sure as to how it was going to go, because it can be a difficult concept to grasp. But, I was thoroughly impressed with the learners and their thinking skills. Some of the scenarios we presented were tough, but the learners were willing to talk through everything so that they understood. (I was especially proud in one scenario when a group of boys recognized the situation as statutory rape, even though it was consensual).
I had a blast at Camp YEAH, and so did the two learners from my school. I think it is a great way for kids to receive very important information and education in a fun environment and is also a great way for them to meet learners they may otherwise have never met. I even learned a lot at camp, and I cannot wait for the next one.