The week-long camp themed “Harmonizing Agriculture & Education” aims to encourage urban students to appreciate the rural farming life and gainfully engage them during winter vacations.
The camp will mainly focus on different traditional and cultural values of agriculture & farming in rural Bhutan.
“The winter break is always an exciting time for students and most of them find themselves unable to spend it in a quality manner,” said the group’s founder and one of the organizers Sangay Rinchen.
A total of 100 youths including students and out-of-school youths in the age range of 14 years and above will be selected based on a ‘first come first’ basis. The organizers will also write to the parents and local guardians of selected students for proper understanding and mutual responsibility of their safety.
Sangay Rinchen said that with the education ministry’s (MoE) policy toward “Education for GNH” and green school program education, many agencies and local NGOs also try to organize different winter programs to keep students engaged”.
This year’s winter agriculture camp would not only keep students engaged but they will also learn and explore different skills and talents that are often not taught in their schools.
Unlike other formal camps, Happy Green Cooperative’s proposal will be designed with playful models which are fun and will be readily accepted by many students/youths. The camp will also provide a platform for the students/youths to express their talents and feelings through different mediums like singing, performing drama, dancing and art or painting etc. The themes for such theater will revolve around agriculture and farming.
The proposed winter camp starting this winter is expected to be an exciting and different students’ camp. It is the idea and the aim of the cooperative to create a unique and special camp that composes different entertainment events, workshops and also out of town excursions and campaigns in rural areas to experience and appreciate the simple yet worthy and healthy rural life.
The selected students from the city schools will get opportunities to experience the rural/village life style with farmers, learn and explore the opportunities in traditional and organic farming. This program also aims to change the perspectives of youths toward agriculture and rural farming life.
The group has proposed the camp to be conducted at Kabisa under Punakha Dzongkhag. Logistics at camp site for the participants will be arranged in four tents and they will be equipped with appropriate camp facilities such as clean water supply, clean toilet facilities, lights and sound systems and other basic necessities.
Separate tents will be pitched at different locations for girls and boys for their privacy and proper camp discipline.
The organizers have also decided to put certain camp safety measures in place. Participants will therefore have to adhere to the set of camp rules. This includes appointment of the camp caretaker who will guard the campsite.
Girls and boys coordinators would be appointed from the organizer’s team who will implement the camp rules and assist the appointed captains among the participants.
One of the camp rules for participants says they will be not allowed to bring expensive jewelries and clothing to the camp.
Substance abuse such as alcohol, drugs and smoking will be strictly prohibited in the camp. A professional first aid service provider will be hired or outsourced from the health ministry (MoH) for the duration of the program and a reserved van for emergency cases will always be available at the camp site.
The participants will be provided three meals a day and two ‘tea and snacks’ breaks daily. Meals will be prepared using organic & local healthy food menus for the entire camp. A separate committee will be formed to facilitate these services.
The program is approximated to incur an expenditure of one million ngultrums. The organizers are presently exploring funds from the MoE and the agriculture ministry (MoAF). The youth group hopes NGOs and private organization will also render support for the camp.
The group’s founder Sangay Rinchen said this is the first time such a camp is being organized and he intends to continue it as an annual winter event.
“Since this is an initial period, we could accommodate 100 students,” he said. After securing more funds, he intends to accommodate more youths in the following year.
Happy Green Cooperative is registered with the Department of Agricultural Marketing & Cooperatives, MoAF since 2010. The youth members of the cooperative include actors, singers, show hosts, street theater artists, dancers, chefs, cooks, business graduates from universities, young ex-government employees and other active social workers.
The age groups of the youth members range from 18–30 as of today with 11 boys & 10 girls.