World Camp

World Camp

"For the Girl Guide and Girl Scout World Camps, please see World Camp (Guiding)."

World Camp is a 501(c)(3) non-profit volunteer organization in the United States and a registered Non-governmental organization (NGO) in the country of Malawi. World Camp was founded in 2000 by students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and continues to be led, funded, managed, and operated by young adults. Since 2001, volunteers from 22 additional colleges and universities have participated in January and Summer programs and educated approximately 25,000 children in southern Africa and Central America. Students from Appalachian State, Birmingham Southern, Bryn Mawr College, College of Charleston, Columbia University, Duke University, Franklin and Marshall, Kenyon College, Middlebury College, Oberlin College, Pomona College, Sewanee, University of California, Berkeley, UNC Asheville, UNC Wilmington, University of Alabama, University of Colorado, University of Delaware, University of Nebraska, University of Vermont, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wooster College, and Yale have participated in World Camp. World Camp currently conducts HIV/AIDS prevention education and environmental conservation education in the rural school districts surrounding Lilongwe, Malawi and Tela, Honduras.

The History of World Camp and World Camp for Kids

World Camp was originally founded in 1999 and 2000 by college students following their travels throughout southern Africa. Many founding members participated in study abroad programs or summer volunteer programs in southern Africa, and were moved by the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS, especially the challenges it placed on children and their communities. Wanting to continue their involvement in southern Africa, they sought out more long-term and involved volunteer experiences. Finding many programs to be prohibitively expensive, these students worked together to form a new, cooperative organization called World Camp for Kids. ("World Camp" now charges participants a fee to facilitate five weeks of teaching in Malawi or Honduras.) They met with various ministries of education, established contacts, evaluated specific country and regional needs, and raised funds under the name World Camp for Kids. World Camp for Kids was also the name of the official student organization at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which was then providing limited financial and institutional support. The 2000 World Camp for Kids team consisted of ten students who travelled throughout southern Africa, researching effective teaching methods and developing the curriculum that eventually became the cornerstone of World Camp Malawi's educational outreach program.

Due to the positive reception in the previous year, the 2001 volunteers chose to return exclusively to Malawi. They camped for 10 weeks as they travelled through the Lilongwe rural east and west school districts, conducting two-day educational camps. World Camp for Kids continued to grow, and by the summer of 2002, the organization was renting a home and office space in Lilongwe, operating a company vehicle, distributing traditional food (nsima, a.k.a. nshima in Zambia), school supplies, and safe sex materials during its educational outreach camps. After a formal name change, World Camp, Inc. established a permanent office and volunteer residence in Area 3, Lilongwe. In that year, World Camp began conducting three-day educational camps with professional translators, community presentations, and the free distribution of simple solar ovens. The organization also began working in regions further from the capital, such as Dedza and Dowa. World Camp continues to use the three-day camp model developed by the 2003 team.

The Malawi Program

The Volunteer Residence

World Camp Malawi is run out of Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi. World Camp volunteer teachers are stationed in the World Camp house which is located in Area 3, on the new side of 'Old Town'. The house also contains the regional World Camp Office. As opposed to organizations like the Peace Corps, which emphasize cultural immersion in aid work, World Camp volunteers return to their base each night during regular camps. Participants have voiced concerns that living in a sheltered, western environment detracts from the their effectiveness as teachers. However, World Camp directors insist that keeping volunteers healthy and well rested is essential for the success of the organization's educational operations. Volunteers are offered several occasions to stay in rural villages, if they so choose.

Educational Camps

World Camp’s educational programs are conducted in a day camp setting for Malawian students in primary grades 5-8. The three-day program includes games, songs, physical activity, targeted workshops, visual aids, hands-on projects, science experiments, and in-depth discussions regarding locally challenging issues. Borrowing from methods used in U.S. summer camps and school programs, the games, songs, and physical activities are meant to promote self-confidence, leadership, and team building. Classroom time is spent in HIV/AIDS prevention and environmental conservation lessons. Camps end with a presentation ceremony in which volunteer teachers and local students present skits pertaining to HIV/AIDS and deforestation to community members, and community members often share songs, dances, and their own skits with volunteers.

Although Malawian primary standard curricula often incorporate HIV/AIDS and deforestation lessons into class time, World Camp attempts to clarify many misconceptions, foster a more detailed understanding of complex subjects, and teach in an engaging manner that is assumed to be new and memorable for students. Activities such as building and testing a simple, functioning solar oven and creating group presentations complete with props, posters, songs and dances, are thought to leave a lasting impression on underprivileged pupils. Through volunteer evaluations and student testing, World Camp has found its curriculum to be effective at changing students’ understanding of concepts concerning the transmission and prevention of HIV. In a study during the summer of 2003, supervised by Professor Richard Smith, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of Statistics [] , World Camp found student scores on 1687 simple HIV/AIDS quizzes rose from an average of 68% to 86% over the course of the three-day camp, and remained at 83% 4-6 weeks after each camp. The change in average scores was found to be statistically significant. Please see reference “Analysis of World Camp HIV/AIDS Quizzes” for further information. []

=Teacher Workshops=

World Camp, with support from the Ministry of Education in Malawi, now concurrently provides student education and teacher training. Primary school teachers participate in a volunteer led, informational, discussion based workshop, supplemented with informational packets produced by World Camp. In addition to education, teacher workshops focus on creating HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention clubs for their schools, developing native language (Chichewa) HIV/AIDS educational materials, and planning educational outreach activities for the community at large. Teachers are encouraged to be a liaison to the community, and to play a central role in the presentation ceremony attended by local peoples on the last day of camp. Teachers are sometimes non-responsive to the workshops, for several possible reasons. Middle-aged teachers may be offended by, or uninterested in, the input of foreign, younger volunteers. Very understandibly, Malawian primary school teachers also suffer from motivation and morale issues. Up to 1 in 3 teachers are HIV-positive in Malawi, their salaries are extremely inadequate, alcohol abuse is common, and teachers often have more than 100 students per class.

The Honduras Program

Starting in the summer of 2006, World Camp extended its efforts to Honduras. The project site is the North Coast of the country, around the small town of Tela. Based on the Malawi program, the Honduras curriculum is taught in three-day camps at primary schools in rural towns surrounding Tela. Each morning, volunteers travel to the schools and return to the World Camp house at night. The local students are in grades equivalent to middle school in the US, ranging from age 10 to 16. Following morning activities, each class moves to their classroom and begins learning the HIV/AIDS and environmental curriculum. The day winds down in the afternoon with games such as relay races and ultimate frisbee. On the third day, family and friends of the students are invited to camp presentations. Each class of students presents a part of the World Camp curriculum to the community through songs and skits.

The Honduras program is in an early stage of development, and must be refined further to meet the specific needs of Tela, and surrounding areas. Thus, each camp is formally evaluated and volunteers are expected to voice their ideas about how to improve the program and/or curriculum. Also, progress in educational operations is often impeeded by unpredictable logistical problems, most notably teacher strikes. Outside technical assistance is currently being solicited to adapt World Camp's Malawi curriculum to better address the challenging issues in and around Tela.

External links

* [ Official World Camp Website]
* [ Malawi National AIDS Commission (NAC)]

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