Kenyan initiation camps turn teens into adults

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Kenyan teenagers have a chance to transition from 'children' to 'adults' thanks to the initiation programmes being offered this holiday.

Initiation rites have been a long standing cultural tradition among Kenyan communities that has seen boys and girls transition into men and women following advice and value systems passed down to them at training sessions. The onset of modernism has however seen a loss of these cultural values but there are a few organisations that would like to it back.

One of these organisations is Consolata Shrine. The Catholic Church located in Westlands runs a youth ministry and one of their programs are the initiation camps targeting both boys and girls. Now in its fifth year, the camp aims to teach a blend of  the good African values with those of Christianity.

“We started this program five years ago because we had seen a need for counselling and mentorship among teenagers,” said Denis Maina, Programs Coordinator at Consolata Shrine.

Running for five to eight days, the camp sees the teenagers taught various life skills.
“After the camp, we want the children to have learnt values such as that of leadership, responsibility an setting goals,” said Maina.

These value systems are taught in an interactive manner that ensure they do not get bored such as group discussions and games.
“The games for the boys however are not very physical because they are still recovering from the circumcision that they undergo at the beginning of the program,” said Maina.

Apart from soft skills, the children are also taught practical life lessons. For the boys, tidiness is a top priority.
“Seeing that boys can be a bit messy, we teach them how to maintain a tidy room  and basics like how to make their beds,” said Maina.

The girls on the other hand are taught about table setting, the kitchen and the fundamentals of cooking. The boys also learn about the kitchen but more on what happens there rather than actual cooking skills.  

The boys initiation sleep-in camp which runs for eight days at Subiaco Retreat Centre in Karen also requires the teenagers to not carry any electronic gadgets.
“We have realized that children of today do not know how to communicate so we also teach them these skills and one of the ways of doing this is by first getting them off their phones,” said Maina.

For the girls, it is a day only camp that runs from 9am to 4pm and meals are provided. The boys' meals are also catered for at the retreat centre and so are their beddings and toiletries. All one needs to carry are their clothes.

The boys initiation camp will run from December 5 to December 12 and will cost Sh28500. For the girls it will be from November 30 to December 4 at a fee of Sh3500.

For more information call Denis Maina on 0724 88 55 95.

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