GSP Lebanon and SportForward (a GSP Corporate Social Responsibility initiative) hosted a series of teambuilding and sports camps from 2-7 October 2017 in Beirut. The program was titled "Camp Hope," as our camps were built upon the main themes of hope and identity for local refugee children. There were three separate two-day camps that took place throughout the week, each with an attendance goal of 100 refugee children. The camps had a 3-hour activity schedule from 6:00 to 9:00 PM every evening.
We brought together a team of volunteers from several countries to facilitate the camps, including five from Egypt, five from Cyprus, four from the United States, and one from Hong Kong, as well as numerous local volunteers. Altogether, there were around 25 to 30 volunteers present at the camps every day. We were very excited and thankful to have so many people from all over the world share in our passion for this program and their willingness to help make the camps successful.
On the first day of each camp, the kids were received, divided into groups, and given a camp T-shirt. For the first hour, they worked together within their groups on games that focused on teamwork, critical thinking, and strategies. Some of these games were easy, while others were quite challenging and proved the importance of problem solving tactics and clear communication within the group. The goal for each group was to finish all of the games within the allotted hour.
The camp facilitators then gathered with each group to discuss the challenges and issues they faced within the exercise. This was a very important time during camp, as campers began to talk about what they learned from the opening session, how it applied to their life experiences, and the themes of camp.
The rest of the time was spent on sport teaching and training- basketball and football. Each group was either sent to the court or the field to practice and learn more about that particular sport. The campers were encouraged to continue to think about the team-building activities that took place earlier and how they may apply to the sport they were practicing. Campers performed drills and played mini-games the first day to teach and develop skills. At the end of this time, the facilitators once again had a team discussion time.
Day 2 followed the same model, with a focus more toward team competition. Each team got to put into practice what they had learned and talked about throughout camp, as they worked together in team drills and games. Campers even got to participate in extended scrimmages at the end of the second activity time. After this was done, all of camp gathered together for a small closing ceremony. During the ceremony, ten champions were individually recognized and awarded a trophy for their efforts during camp. Candy and prizes were given out to one outstanding camper from each group. Every child that participated in Camp Hope was given a camp-specific medal and a sticker. The children were thrilled to be recognized in this way during the ceremony.
Over the course of the week, there were a total of 339 campers. We were excited to meet and eclipse our attendance goal. We were even prouder of what was shared with us from our volunteers and facilitators in our debriefing session. The children were ecstatic to be a part of the camp and through all of our interactions with them, we could tell that they really connected to what matters most- their identity and the hope that they possess. GSP and SportForward are extremely grateful that we were able to use sports to connect with these children and this community through sport and Camp Hope.