Middle Park grad organizes Peace Corps camp
Peace Corps volunteers Conor McGee of Boise, Idaho, and Jordan Ricketts of Redmond, Ore., a 2007 graduate of Middle Park High School, recently worked with fellow volunteers and community members across Swaziland to organize the country’s first Camp BRO – Boys Reaching Out – to teach young men about gender-related topics rarely addressed in schools.
The week-long camp, inspired by the widespread success of Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), engaged 30 young men from high schools around the country in discussions on gender equality, lifestyle choices, reproductive health, domestic violence prevention and planning for the future.
“It was so rewarding to see the students slowly open up throughout the week and see their smiles grow larger each day,” said Ricketts, a graduate of Northern Arizona University who has been living in Swaziland since 2014.
After seeing the positive effects of Camp GLOW on local girls and women, McGee and Ricketts, their fellow Peace Corps volunteers, and Swazi community members organized Camp BRO to address uniquely male issues. The camp was held in collaboration with local nongovernmental organizations and included trainings and discussions led by both volunteers and local community leaders.
“Getting students together from across the country is a great thing, as many of them have never left their community,” Ricketts said. “This is the first time they’ve been able to interact with students from other schools.”
Many of the participating Peace Corps volunteers host a regular boys club in their community, and Camp BRO was designed to complement those clubs.
“Peace Corps volunteers bring boys to the camp and the boys will bring the enthusiasm, knowledge, and skills they developed at the camp back to their local clubs,” Ricketts said.
To keep Camp BRO going after his departure from Swaziland, McGee and Ricketts are working closely with fellow volunteers and community members who are interested in organizing the camp next year.
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