March 4, 2020


During the last winter break, 30 junior youth aged 11 to 15 from three neighbourhoods in Ottawa (Overbrook, Pineview and Donald Street) participated in a day-long junior youth camp. Since the youth were all coming from different groups and were at different levels of study in the junior youth spiritual empowerment program, it was decided that the camp would focus on building bonds of friendship among these youth while inspiring them to reflect on themes of importance to young people. The film Mercy’s Blessing was shown at the outset of the camp and then a series of workshops were held throughout the day related to the film. Mercy’s Blessing is the story of a teenage boy and his younger sister in a rural African village who act courageously amid social injustice.

The camp started off with a few songs and games, which allowed junior youth from the different neighbourhoods to get to know each other. After viewing the film, they were assigned to various breakout groups where they participated in various workshops. The workshop materials explored themes from the film such as making choices, upholding equality, standing up for justice, sacrifice, respect, and forces in society, among others. The discussions were rich and varied. The day concluded with a number of artistic presentations inspired from the themes studied in the workshops. Reflecting on the camp, Vanier resident Alphadyo Balde said "It is amazing to see all these young people coming together, all participating in different junior youth groups and developing the spiritual insight and capacity to make the world a better place."

Several youth animators from each neighbourhood were present to support the camp. Some of these animators had just been part of an intensive training the week prior to the camp, which presented an excellent opportunity for them to serve alongside other more experienced animators. Others were themselves previously part of groups in the junior youth spiritual empowerment program and were starting to discover the joy of treading a path of service and in their turn serving as animators for a group of junior youth. The nine animators from the three neighbourhoods had prepared ahead of time and in different settings in order to facilitate the workshops. On the day of the camp, several animators met each other for the first time, but they quickly learned to work as a team with their partners and created a welcoming atmosphere for the junior youth, facilitating a most memorable camp for them. The event was very successful, and everyone came away with much joy and fond memories.

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