I had the chance recently of attending a weekend workshop of young people, male and female amounting to around 60 between the ages of 15 and 25, at a Scout Camp premises in Mirigama. It lends itself for such an event, being isolated from noise being a heavily wooded area which belies the 25 acres in extent.
It was a camp to give the young people an insight into making lifestyle decisions about what they want to do in the future and give them the tools whereby they could make these decisions. The leadership workshop was carried out by an leadership counselor who specializes in life skills identification programs. It was the most useful part of the workshop.
This was a youth camp organized by the UNP Youth Front, and contained a sprinkling of Pradeshiya Sabha Members, Provincial Councillors and Members of Parliament who gave speeches to empower the youth to the party’s history and its position within the political fabric of Sri Lanka and its aims. There were many popular misconceptions that had to be corrected. When the principles were pointed out an indication of how distorting the Media can be was apparent. Personal agendas can cloud the thinking and perceptions. Some unraveling of knots took place to put clarity into the vision.
I was not as interesting to the young audience, as many politicians do not really know how to relate to young people and address issues that are specific to them bearing in mind the life choices they have to make both at the O level and A level stage. Once finished, what they wish to do to further their lives in a positive direction. How politics relates to everyday lives and how it affects our daily activities was not sufficiently dealt with as it is an important fabric of life in Sri Lanka. Government is intrusive and affects how we are treated from law enforcement, careers and also in being able to get day to day activities performed using the machinery of the state. The challenge is in reversing this.
The most interesting aspects for the young people were the games that were set up to help with teamwork and bonding. The new friends they made was encouraging, many from nearby as it was a camp for people from just one electorate. There was a sing song by the fire, which was dampened slightly due to the rain, but it nevertheless resulted in a fun time till late into the night.
Some of the kids had never been on such an overnight camp, and it is a shame that more of these are not offered across the country to build social skills.