By Bathsheba Nerus
The Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) Northern Zone Easter Camp had come to an end last weekend at its headquarters in Lamingo – Jos, central Nigeria.
The camp which was conducted in two phases started with the children’s camp from 18th – 23rd April, and concluded with the teens camp, which ran from 25th – 30th April.
The camp witnessed active participation of 116 registered members and 19 counsellors from Areas under the Zone, which comprise of Jos, Lafia, Kakuri, Chugwi, Gwafan, Gombe, Billiri, Yola, Guyuk and Kaduna.
The counsellors who worked under the supervision of 5 officials, were trained graduates of the Northern Zone leadership institute (Emerging Young Leaders Institute, EYLI).
Working in line with the theme for the 2022 Easter Camp “Transforming Food System, Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”
Participant were taken through a series of intellectual and hands-on activities which brought home the importance of agriculture not just as sustainable and viable economic venture, but also as a means of promoting both human and planetary health.
The participants also took part in a variety of colourful and interesting events such as games, Bible studies, lectures, presentations, quiz, and excursions to (mention the places they went and the activities performed).
To promote a sense of unity and friendship, participants were clustered into groups, with each group comprising participants from the various participating states. Each group worked as a team to execute assigned camp tasks.
Adopting the grouping strategy also helped in not only enriching the participants’ overall experiences, but also provided them the opportunity to develop and hone their leadership skills, as well as social and interpersonal skills.
At the opening, Northern Zone Leader of the Association, David Allu Faith, welcomed participants from various states and urged them to be obedient and attentive to the counsellors and camp officials as they were there to make the camp exciting.
Mr. Allu reminded them that the camp was an opportunity to mentor children and teenagers as leaders, as well as build their capacities as change agents and responsible individuals.
He expressed hope that “all that is taught, learned and experienced will be applied positively as a guide for life.
Also speaking, Chairman, Camp Committee, Mr. Jeremiah Panshak Kassem, urged participants to be open to new ideas from planned lessons, encouraging them to build new networks and friendships.
He also tasked them to obey the camp rules and submit to leadership of the counsellors and officials.
In a goodwill message, a German, and one of the pioneers of the Easter Camp in Nigeria, Mr. Micheal Langer, recalled the humble beginning of the Easter camp 30 years ago when he was in Nigeria, expressing joy that the legacy had continued.
Langer added that, he delayed his return trip to Germany by a day, to witness the opening of the camp.
While expressing hope for better days ahead, he appreciated the efforts and sacrifices of the camp counsellors and officials, who were there to make the camp a success.
History of YMCA
The idea for Young Men’s Christian Association, (YMCA), was conceived by a 22-year-old draper, named George Williams, in 1844 in London, England, in response to unhealthy social conditions brought on by the Industrial Revolution. At the time, it was revolutionary to discuss religious practices outside of the church.
From there, it spread to other countries of the world including USA, Canada, Japan, Liberia, and later Nigeria.
As documented on its website, the first YMCA organized group in Nigeria was formed in the city of Kano in 1925, based in a local Church, however, the group soon faded away, until 1944, when the Lagos YMCA Central Club, which later developed into the Lagos YMCA was formed.
The YMCA of Nigeria adapted the Paris Basis and Kampala Principles to suit local conditions until 1994 when a National Strategic Development Plan Workshop was held at the University of Lagos. One of the highlights of that workshop was the adoption of a Mission Statement which runs thus:
‘We provide relevant community-based programmes and services that develop the mind, spirit and body of the youths and the less privileged on the basis of equality and justice and in accordance with the Christian mandate’
YMCA’s main programmes centre around youth Empowerment, Gender Sensitivity, Poverty Alleviation, Leadership Development, Political and Civic Education and Capacity Building towards self-reliance. It organises youth camps at local, national and international levels.
YMCA indeed is a place to be for every young person of our time… Keep up the good work
Very good piece Mr Nerus. You actually told the story. I like it sir
Awesome write up Nerus, indeed we had an impactful time with the children and teens. Keep it up