Camp RUF: A learning experience for urban students

64 students from urban centres spent 10 days with 64 rural students

Camp: Sejal Sharma spends most of her time watching television or reading books during her winter vacation. The 13-year old Lungtenzampa student has some plans this winter.

After returning from Camp RUF (Rural Urban Friendship) recently, she wants to help her grandmother at her construction site in Gelephu. Sejal was “surprised” how girls of her age in the villages helped their parents doing a lot of odd works daily.  This she witnessed during the 10-day Camp where 64 students from urban areas spent their time with 64 rural students in Tsirang.

“While young girls in the towns are busy with what clothes to wear, our friends are busy helping their parents,” she said. She said the simple life girls in the village live amazed her. “I learnt a lot of things that are not found in books or in the corners of a city,” she said. “We have a lot to learn from our rural friends.”

Karan Humagai, 15, came back amazed from the Camp too. He said he is still wondering how youth of his age were able to shoulder elderly responsibilities such as ploughing the field, picking oranges, growing vegetables and weeding among others.

Although Karan had been to his village before, he had not experienced a rural life as much he did during the camp. The 128 campers grouped into 10 spent a whole day in 10 households carrying out all the household and farm responsibilities.

“I would not have been able to differentiate between a weed and a edible plant had I not been to a village,” he said adding that this winter he wants to spend his holiday productively.

Students spends a day in the farm

Students spends a day in the farm

Karma Thinley Gyamtsho, a class VII student of Thimphu Primary School said while it was fun for them to spend a few days in the village, he learnt how life is difficult in the villages. “We should take more urban students to live and learn from our friends in the villages,” he said.

Camp RUF took 64 students from 13 different schools in Thimphu to meet and bond with 64 students from 11 schools in Tsirang. The camp was designed to bring school-going children together. It was held at Mendrelgang Central School in Tsirang.

Started in 2014, Camp organizer Tenzin Dorji said the idea of the camp was to let children learn from each other. “It’s a platform to bridge differences and learn from differences through children bonding, friendship, and love,” he said.

About 50 caregivers and facilitators, who were teachers and volunteers, accompanied the students during the camp.  Tenzin Dorji said it was difficult to manage a large group of students in terms of transportation; safety concerns and faced financial problems as well.

“I am happy that we had a successful camp,” he added.

Education ministry’s department of youth and sports and some individual donors funded the programme.

Yeshey Dema  and  Nirmala Pokhrel 

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