Over this past weekend PeacePlayers International – South Africa fellow Bryan Franklin volunteered as a mentor at program partner CAST’s Boys II Men Camp. Over the past year PPI-SA has worked with CAST to grow the game of basketball and to bring different communities together. Read Bryan’s take on the weekend below.
The Boys II Men camp is a four day camp for young boys growing up without fathers at home. The camp’s goal is to challenge the attendees to break the cycle of “fatherlessness” in South Africa. The annual camp is led by male volunteer who act as fathers for the duration of camp. Boys are later matched with mentors for ongoing mentoring. When Sport and Youth Development Manager George Mwaura asked me to volunteer as a mentor for his upcoming Boys II Men camp, I was thrilled. I’m incredibly passionate about spending time in nature and working with young people.
The highlight of the camp was spending time with my five mentees, and specifically one of the boys named Caleb. Caleb stood out from the rest of the sixty or so participants in one very distinct way – he was Indian. Caleb and the other boys did not let that stop them from eating breakfast, playing sports, and sharing stories together. In fact, Caleb won the dance competition at the camp talent show, opening up a lot of eyes in the process.
The moment of Caleb dancing his heart out and being embraced by the other boys as he was announced the winner will go down as one of the many special memories I have experienced in Durban. This camp, and the work of PeacePlayers International, proves that kids who play together can learn to live together and when it comes down to it, we are not so different. At PeacePlayers we see longstanding divides broken down and friendships built through youth basketball programs.
Most of the CAST Boys II Men campers participated because of their love for sport. As the days progressed and they were challenged beyond what they thought themselves capable – physically, spiritually, or independently – many walked out no longer boys, but men.