As the year draws to a close various coaching camps are beginning to open for youth.

For the busy and anxious parents, especially in urban Bhutan where there are too many toxic distractions for the young, such opportunities and openings come as a huge relief.

Unfortunately, however, only a small number of our children get to attend and reap the benefits of coaching camps. In the rural areas, where such programmes are alas few and far between, children are usually engaged in helping their parents with household and other chores. But, with development, the reality is changing fast.

Even in the villages our children now are increasingly being exposed to unhealthy trends and the banes of modern cultures. As our society and communities become increasingly urbanised and connected we will need more and more interventions to engage our children productively.

We are already feeling the need to address the gap.

It is argued that taking camps and training programmes far and wide to make them available to a large number of youth is costly. But the fact is that it would be far more expensive if did not think of innovative ways to engage them productively now. In the age of technology and virtual meetings, many such programmes can be organised effectively … on budget.

Increasing the intake at the camps is another option. What is more important, however, is variety and intensity. Most camps and engagement programmes that we offer today are woefully short and cosmetic. It would be a vain effort and monumental loss if the programmes do not benefit our children in the end.

More than variety and duration, what is required is intensity of the programmes. The programmes, however short, must be able to help our children discover their passion and provide at least the basic skills that they can advance in the future.

That achieved, our children can join the many advanced skilling programmes that the government is making available to young and enterprising Bhutanese. At the core of these facilities must lie the objective of providing direction and skills. One intense winter camp is by far more desirable than a dozen slapdash youth engagement programmes.

In our case, we need both number and quality.