By Lamin Cham
Some one Hundred and Twenty students from twelve countries on Sunday completed a one week camp in the Gambia, organized by Camp Africa. The students, coming under the UK group, with 8 nationalities, the Senegalese group, with 4 nationalities, in addition to the Gambian group, are mainly pursuing Tourism and Travel courses at their respective colleges, and were in Banjul to attend the annual camp Africa programme which for the last four years brings local, regional and international youths together on an annual basis to encourage integration and cross-cultural dialogue. The campers engaged in multi-faceted sporting, cultural, educational and community focused activities during their week stay.
This year, participants were opportuned to tour many interesting sites including the Katchically Crocodile pool, Tanka Tanka, Mental Hospital where they donated gifts to the inmates, the Etu Ndow and Tunbung Art Galary Village near Tanjei, where they were introduced to African dance and drumming, storytelling, painting screening of Tshrits. They also visited Sandele and the Kartong River among others. This followed a formal indoctrination of the ethics and code of conducts of the camp and symposium.
The participants also took part in a procession match pass to promote ITTOG as well play Beach sports. The final activity was the Africa Got Soul cultural performance an dinner which features dance performances by the campers each representing their group.
This year, the Senegalese Group, who performed a traditional African marriage, won the trophy followed by the Gambia and the UK. Addressing the campers, Adama Njie, deputizing for the Gambia Tourism Board Director General thanked Camp Africa once again for this year’s programme and reiterated his office recognition and appreciation of their contribution to tourism in The Gambia. All participants interviewed and officials praised the camp for the wonderful experience, exposure and friendship across cultures that the week long camp has availed them.
Camp Africa is an innovative project dedicated to fostering sustainable development activities and responsible tourism. It does this by bringing local, regional and international youths together on an annual basis to encourage integration and cross-cultural dialogue. The campers engage in multi-faceted sporting, cultural, educational and community focused activities organized each year.
As a registered charity in The Gambia, Camp Africa has a board of directors and is overseen by a coalition of organizations in The Gambia who have rich experience in sustainable tourism, sports development and issues of cultural integration. These organizations are the trustees of Plymouth Banjul- a successful charity with a strong existing structure and the main provider of funds to Camp Africa, the Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Tourism (ASSET), and the International Centre for Responsible Tourism- West Africa (ICRT- WA).
Sport is recognized as a powerful tool that can be utilized to contribute to the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals. As such; sporting activities will be the back bone of each programme. Government institutions like the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MOTC), The Gambia Tourism Board (GTB) and The National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) also provide support to the camp.The camp was overseen by its board of directors, Adama Bah, George Gomez and Geri Michell, and assisted by the Administrative secretary Momodou Ndimbalan who coordinated the camp while Lamin Bojang coordinate the excursions. Etu Ndow was the workshop coordinator while Fasuluku and Lamin Bojang coordinated the procession and the Africa Got Soul Gala.