I'm convinced the idea of summer camp needs to change. The days where summer camp programs consisted of leather crafts, parachute games in the field, and basket weaving is over. Teenagers need real, authentic, honest relationships where they can begin engaging in the world around them. Here at KIVU we are constantly trying to figure out how to create an environment where we can encourage the gifts kids are naturally given, and hone those gifts where they can be used in the greater world around them.
I'm convinced if we can expose kids to a larger Worldview, they can use those gifts, and make a difference in the world. No other generation in history has the passion and desire to reach out and make their lives count for something greater than themselves. But we also see a deep divide between those willing to serve others and those willing to serve themselves.
So, last Saturday, we split up 120 people into different small groups to simulate how the world really works. These weren't just ANY small groups, they were groups selected at random to represent different parts of the world.
The first world people were given an envelope at random at the beginning of the day. They were mainly from Western and Developing Nations (Mostly America) and were given a large sum of play money, a schedule they had to adhere to hour by hour, and goals to reach by the end of the day. Each group had to go on a "mission trip" to help their friends who lived in Second and Third World nations, and they had access to lollipops, ribbons, bracelets, and cash. From the start of the day they had to ride in vehicles from place to place no matter if their destination was 5 ft. away or 500 yards. They were given everything they needed to be "successful."
The second world groups were given a significant less amount of play money. They had certain jobs they had to do to serve the First World. They had a few more physical challenges to overcome, and ultimately were privy to the amenities of the First World, but didn't have access naturally to the ease of life.
The Third World was given no money. No challenges. No goals. They had to figure everything out on their own. They watched as the First and Second world kids had access to life's easy amenities, but had no way to access the basic necessities they needed without engaging creatively.
At the end of the exercise (all day), we brought the whole group of teenagers together and found some interesting comments.
One 13 year old boy said, "What the heck? We were given $60K US at the beginning of the day, and Haiti had nothing. I had to pay for my water bill, my housing, my activities, and for what? I didn't know my group at the end of the day. I didn't make anything. I didn't contribute anything. I just rode around in a van all day from place to place watching these people have fun. It was easy, but I didn't feel like I was really helping the group as a whole."
Another 16 year old guy said, "When I watched people open the envelopes at the beginning of the day, and found out I wasn't in America, I was surprised how fast my resentment swelled. I couldn't believe they were going to get anything they wanted, while I had to act like I lived in poverty. I can't imagine what other third world country citizens think about developing countries when they have no say in where they are born or how they can get out of poverty."
Overall, it was an AMAZING exercise. We didn't want America to feel all the Good, or all the Bad stuff that accompanies living in a great nation. We also didn't want the Third World kids to miss the Good or the Bad of being in another nation. Our intent was to show kids the Good AND the Bad when they have to think about economics, spiritual development, health and wellness, and most of all community inside the group.
One 15 year old said, "I've been moved today. I think I need to reach out beyond my own sphere of influence to know more about the world. It was insulting when the Americans came by our group and gave us suckers and candy, when all we really wanted was to hang out and get to know them and what they were doing. Thanks for doing this. I have an obligation to reach out and search for what others need rather than what I think they ought to have."
The interesting part of this scenario is, we've taken the most interested generation in history concerning global awareness, but most of what they know is to serve themselves in some sort of selfless narcissism. They want to serve, but only if it makes them look like they are engaged in some sort of Global Problem. They Re-tweet social justice issues, they comment on facebook status, and even take pictures of their short term mission trips, but rarely do they accomplish anything other than making themselves look good.
The Global Awareness simulation at KIVU has taken summer amp to the world. There are leaders being developed here who will be conscious of how to engage in business, medicine, economies, and technology as they remember the day they interacted with other people who had no choice where they were born or what communities they live in.
Once again, KIVU is setting the stage for Teenagers to understand a Comprehensive Worldview as they search for meaning in their own life and what it means to people around them.