By Hira Nafees Shah
Tenth-grader Aimen Gul laughed as she tried to balance on top of her teammate to create a human pyramid – an unusual sight in Pakistan, and not only because of the activity, but also because Aimen was taking part in a co-educational camp sponsored by the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN) and the Pakistan Boy Scouts Association.
“I really liked forming the human pyramid . . . it was great fun!” Gul gushed.
The 2015 Young Leaders Scout Camp featured three days of fun and excitement as well as practical lessons in how cooperation, leadership, and inclusion can build something substantial. More than 120 participants between the ages of 14 and 17 took part in the event, which included both scouts and alumni.
Benjamin Franklin Institute Alumnus Faran Ali and English Access Microscholarship Program Alumnus Kamran Javed jointly organized the project which took place with the help of an Alumni Small Grant from PUAN.
“Last year, I went to Denver to take part in an event organized by the American Boy Scouts Association,” said Javed. “When I came back, Faran and I decided to hold this project to pass our additional learning on to the Pakistani Boy Scouts and to Access Alumni so that we could motivate them further.”
U.S Ambassador Richard Olson, an American eagle scout and life-long scouting proponent, was the chief guest of the occasion. “This project brings together two organizations committed to Pakistan–the Boy Scouts Association and the Pakistan-U.S Alumni Network,” he said.
Camp offers a Range of Activities
“I found Ambassador’s Olson speech quite inspiring as he was also a Boy Scout at a very young age,” said Syra Basharat, a student.
“I really like the camp because we had not campaigned with Ambassador Olson before and this was very important for our motivation,” said Ibrahim Khan, a Boy Scout.
On day one, the organizers divided the attendees, which included several young women, into 12 teams (“patrols”). Each patrol then competed in a range of competitions including tent-pitching, tree plantation, archery, table-tennis, volleyball, and football. Participants also attended a number of sessions on First Aid Training, Leadership, and Scouting, to help the participants develop important life skills.
The organizers and students also made a series of drawings under a theme called the “Messengers of Peace.”
“I think the best way to promote peace was through the drawings,” said Mawiya Abbasi, a BBA Student. “This is because not just one mind worked on them, but a lot of people collaborated together to transfer their ideas about peace onto paper.”
“It my first experience working with scouts, so I had a lot of fun,” said Mehreen Abbasi, Access Alumna. “I was also able to develop friendships with people from different areas who had come to Islamabad to attend the camp.”
Learning and Fun Take Place Together
The sessions were a huge success. A speaker showed a video about Pakistani child prodigy Arfa Karim in a meeting titled “Go Perpendicular” and induced the participants to think carefully about what they wanted to do with their lives.
Meanwhile, First Aid practice session stretched for three hours and the attendees learned how to deal with many different emergency situations, from setting broken bones to dealing with a household fire.
“The camp is a very good initiative as it involves a number of physical activities which are very good for mental growth,” said Arooj Iqbal, an Access alumna.
Finally a team from the United Nations conducted an exercise with the participants to find out what their future goals were while a communication and media relations expert stressed upon the importance of conveying one’s message properly to reach the right audience.
But the icing on the cake for the attendees was a bonfire and cultural night, where they represented their home cultures through dance, dress, and music, while experiencing the life of boy scouts.
As for Kamran Javed, the alumnus is grateful about the outcome of his project.
“I am happy and satisfied with the success of my project,” said the Access Alumnus. “As for the next step, I want to do this event on a bigger scale with a higher number of participants next year, so that its impact can be greater.”
To find out more about his Alumni Small Grant project, take a look at this link: