Camp Rural Urban Friendship (RUF) receives overwhelming response

Camp Rural Urban Friendship (RUF), currently on its fifth edition this year, is gearing up to host students from rural and urban areas at Darla, Chhukha on 21 December.

The person leading the camp since last year, Namgyel Wangchuk, said that the weeklong program aims to engage students in inclusive and exciting learning activities. The organizers say the activities are well planned and researched, like story reading sessions, campfire and survival cooking, camp radio, treasure hunts, homestays, various sports activities, lifeskills session, Dzongkha Zumba dance, session on Bhutanese etiquettes, screening of Pemi Tshewang Tashi, field trips.

RUF expects to have almost 96 campers and 8 youth caregivers from different schools. The students pay a registration fee of Nu 2,500 to cover transportation, food, accommodation and refreshment

“However, in order to provide equal platforms to the underprivileged students, the camp also offers the Camp RUF Grant to students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds. This year, 18 students from various schools who’ve displayed academic excellence with the potential to be the future leaders, have been given the opportunity to represent themselves through the Camp RUF Grant,” said Namgyel Wangchuk.

The main aim of the camp is to bring students from rural and urban areas together so as to bridge the differences, and to learn from each other by bonding over the course of time and forging stronger relationship. The camp also provides realistic opportunities for the youth to be compassionate and empathetic, open-minded and curious, honest and appreciative with one another by building a sense of mutual respect and strong teamwork.

Namgyel Wangchuk said that the camp programs are developed to educate the hearts of the young minds through well knit interactions and powerful activities, such as sharing the same food and not giving into any standard norms, exchanging knowledge, instilling basic human values, teamwork, interact with local villagers, and reflection sharing over the camp fires towards the evening.

In order to strengthen the bonds, the organizers said that students from rural setting are paired with student from urban areas. The pairs write letters to get to know each other before the camp and after the camp that helps them to understand their differences and similarities. Handmade gifts are also exchanged. The new friendships are nurtured during the camp so they can become life-long friends. The campers are also grouped into ‘families’ of 12 members to support and care for one another and build strong connections.

The noble idea of the camp sprouted from the founder of the camp, Tenzin Dorji’s late wife Kelzang Chhoden, who passed away before she could realize her dream of planning a winter camp to bridge the vast differences between the students from rural and urban areas, with even a bigger dream to forge strong friendships among the campers. Tenzin Dorji took it upon himself to manifest his wife’s last wish into reality and founded the Camp RUF in her memory

The camp also ensures that the programs are well coordinated and proper safety measures are in place. In order to facilitate and make sure the students get the best of experiences, the camp is managed by camp coordinators, assistant camp coordinators, facilitators, caregivers, youth care givers, mess-in-charge, health supervisors, technician, cooks, procurement personnel and helpers.

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