Living in the age and era of “computers”, camping is not something I would enthusiastically go for. Imagine: a week sleeping in a dark tent with just a flashlight as the best source of light, having no internet, having to remember to charge my phone before going back to the tent, waking up at dawn for morning exercise routines and sports in general. All these things would literally destroy me. Well, at least that’s what I initially thought!
On the contrary, now I think they make us thrive. This is something I learned through my participation in the Furaha camp in December 2018 at Eagles’ point camp in Elementaita, Kenya. Anyone who would have asked me to go camping before would have gotten a NO. However, at this moment, I would say a non-hesitant YES! I almost think I would be the one suggesting it.
The Furaha camp is a week-long camp held by The World Youth Alliance Africa every year for the last 5 years at different locations in Kenya. It’s open to teenagers from all over Africa. The theme this year was on Truth, Love, and Culture. It is basically a fun-filled week coupled with learning, games, and food plus today’s most relevant aspect: networking. The teenagers had time together to just to connect, learn about themselves and others. I cannot remember when I last conversed with a teenager without them looking at their phone or thinking about their next Facebook post. This time, I did. When we got back to the tents every evening, we just talked and got to learn about one another as well as just be in the moment. The selfies were all real because we had truly connected. We were genuinely concerned about one another and meal time was just like family meal time at a round table.
How can I talk about the Furaha camp without talking about the theme and its relevance? With the world gone plastic (filled with plastic smiles), it’s only fair to talk about how we can stay as human as possible. How we can live in the truth of who we are, remembering that love is the backbone of humane living as well as staying true to who we are as people while embracing and accepting others for who they are. If I had learned this as a teenager, maybe I would have been a whole different person altogether and I mean this in a good way. I am convinced that it is not too late nonetheless. I learned all this while having fun at the same time. Because of the indoor and outdoor games, for a while I had forgotten how super competitive I was as a teenager. Let’s just say, I became 15 again. The Furaha camp as the word Furaha means happy, we were happy learning, connecting, and simply living. Hopefully, the lessons from the camp will never be forgotten and that the friendships made last a lifetime. I hope we can face every day with the genuineness of the tears we cried while we said goodbye on the last day.
Written by Leah Kunihira, a WYA Africa 2018 intern alumnus