Youth Formation Coordinator- Agusan del Norte Division
Aldrin, 17, walked in long, brisk strides as he carried his huge backpack. His middle-aged, female adviser barely strolled along, in between heavy, exasperated breathing.
Nevertheless, both were brimming in excitement; their faces glowed in anticipation as they approached the entrance of a huge convention area. Aldrin, his adviser, and 801 others were going to attend Caraga’s first- ever International Youth Camp.
Organized by the Department of Education- Caraga in partnership with the International Youth Fellowship and the Local Government Unit of Butuan City, the 2017 International Youth Camp was indeed one of the region’s largest convergence of young leaders and advisers to date. Held on October 28-29, 2017 at Almont Inland Hotel, the event anchored on the theme: “Change. Challenge. Cohesion.”
In 2013, the UP Population Institute and Demographic Research and Development Foundation conducted the 2013 Young Adult Fertility Survey in Caraga.
The study showed significant cases of risky behaviors among adolescents such as drug use, suicidal tendencies, high teenage pregnancy rates due to premarital sex. With the advent of today’s technology and easy access to vast amount of information coupled with a high sense of curiosity and exploration, the adolescents could be vulnerable to higher risks, putting their families, the country and their future life at stake. If this trend goes unabated, how can the Department of Education achieve its vision of “Filipinos who passionately love the country…contribute meaningfully to building the nation?”
How can the department spark the flame of the nation’s hope and keep the youth from engaging in these risky behaviors?
Meeting the International Youth Fellowship
A Christian- based global youth initiative, the International Youth Fellowship is a non-profit organization with central headquarters at California. It is dedicated to the spiritual, intellectual and emotional growth of young people worldwide. Some of their programs include, among others, missionary work, alternative means of secondary education, cultural exchanges, performance arts and youth camps.
DepEd Caraga aspires for a lasting change that springs from a well-formed mind and heart of the youth. At the camp, participants attended the Mind Lecture Series facilitated by IYF’s roster of International Speakers. Life- changing topics included “Desire and Mind- Control,” “Listening and Hope,” “Heart Care,” “Consideration and Competition,” “Right Mind-set,” and “True Education,” among others. In these activities, participants were able to share their insights, realizations, and commitments.
As teacher-advisers convened at a function room, their ‘baby sharks’ went around the vicinities to find some treasures and perform daunting tasks. They did a Scavenger Hunting game where groups had to decode a secret encryption. They also had unique breakout academies on culture, art, and mind recreation. Each academy was a test of group dynamics, transformative leadership, reasoning, and self- control as they engaged in overcoming various challenges set before them.
Working in Cohesion
“We may be diverse but we are united,” answered the winning group in the Challenge Category when asked what made them succeed in the energy- draining, mind-bending Scavenger Hunt.
Looking back to see the future