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Aug 15, 2014

BDF Summer Camp Ends With A Bang

The Belize Defence Force is tasked with patrolling our borders and defending our sovereignty. Lately, soldiers have also been deployed on Belize City streets to assist Police in dealing with spiking crime and violence. But the Force does much more than that. For the past ten years, the BDF has provided a temporary home to hundreds of youths every summer, hosting a camp which focuses on teaching valuable life skills. The camp closed today in grand style, with youths showing off their new found skills and new found discipline and determination to be better. Mike Rudon was at Price Barracks this morning and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

These graduates of the BDF’s annual Summer Camp proudly showcased the skills they have learned, and the talents they have honed during their time with the men and women of the BDF. From animal traps to painting, football to taekwondo, these inner city youths have gotten an opportunity to participate in an experience of a lifetime. About five hundred and fifty youths attend these camps annually at Price Barracks, Fairweather Camp and Camp Belizario.

 

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander, Belize Defence Force

Brig. Gen. David Jones

“This is not something that is in the purview of the Belize Defence Force, but we have been asked by the Ministry of National Security to play a role in the crime and violence situation in Belize City. So what we have done for almost a decade now is to have these kids here…Price Barracks. Fairweather Camp and Camp Belizario, to have them for two separate two weeks programs, so it’s a total of a month that we have these kids to come in with the BDF, learn some skills, play some sports and what we try to instil in them is some discipline and pride and a different mentality from the way they’re thinking…instead of resorting to violence as soon as there’s a conflict, they try to resolve it in a better way.”

 

Lieutenant Francis Usher is one of the organizers and teachers at the Summer Camp. He maintains that it’s about much more than just teaching these kids difference skills or disciplines…it’s about changing their lives, giving them hope and showing them an alternative.

 

Lieutenant Francis Usher

Lieutenant Francis Usher, Camp Organizer

“The summer camp in general caters to more…we try to get the at-risk youths, the youths that come from a background where they are more likely to get into bad activities when they go further in life. So we try to give them a sense of discipline, a sense of self-confidence, a sense of belonging and entitlement so that they have something to look forward to every summer. The first couple days I can tell you – the discipline – we had quite a few issues. But by the third day we found that with a little work, a little attention, and with a little…you know for example I was involved in swimming. We showed them that there is another way to do it. You don’t need to yell at another friend. You don’t need to be mean. And we taught them that discipline is a key part of society. I mean if they behaved rudely they needed to do some drills. We incorporated some drills into it as well. So overall I think the biggest outcome of the camp is the fact that we got discipline out of it.’

 

The pride and sense of achievement was clear today. These campers have had an exciting time out of the city – a mix of fun, learning and development. The BDF went all out, and the results speak for themselves.

 

Lieutenant Francis Usher

“There were twelve different camps that we focused on. There was the jungle survival, they did animal traps, they learned how to light a fire from scratch, there was the soccer, there was swimming where they learned how to swim. Perhaps half of our camp did not know how to swim, and they learned how to swim. There was construction…they learned about pipes, plumbing and actual construction, how to mix cement. There was painting, where they learned how to paint. There was bird watching. We actually had somebody come in from the Audubon society and help them out, taught them different types of birds.”

 

Adrian Ramirez

Adrian Ramirez, Camp Member

“I do taekwondo, punches, kicks…”

 

Reporter

“What else you learn?”

 

Adrian Ramirez

“They teach me press ups, and situps and lifting up feets.”

 

Jachel Requeña, Camp Member

Jachel Requeña

“I learned how to self defence, how to never get in a fight when you’re not supposed to, and how to behave and learned things that you always should have learned when you were small.”

 

Khadeim Marin

Khadeim Marin, Camp Member

“I’ll try to behave more and next year make sure I come to this camp again.”

 

Usher told us that the camp is only the start of a relationship with these youths. He and other mentors provide contact information and encourage the youths to keep in touch. Reporting for News Five I am Mike Rudon.

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