Giving While LivingReflecting on Camp NexGen™ Tanzania

Idara Otu
4 min readOct 12, 2023

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The 72-hours that encapsulate Camp NexGen™ highlight the most stressful, yet rewarding days of my year. No different that than last year, the plan was to welcome 150 campers aged 11–15 to Camp NexGen™, to an unforgettable SPORT x STEAM experience, this year, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Now firmly on the other side of camp and nearly recovered from jetlag, I am pleased to report this year’s camp lived up to the hype. With old and new partners alike, LGRRG returned to southern Africa to welcome a new cohort of campers eager to explore the unknown. The experience at camp is always transformative for all parties involved, the campers, the volunteers, coaches, and staff.

Welcoming students from the Twiga, Sokoine, and Moringe areas in Dar es Salaam, we started our days off with a mixture of basketball and football (soccer). Special thanks go to the Shining Sport team who served as our lead coaches for our sport sessions, paying special attention to break the cultural stereotypes of girls not playing football (soccer). Long skirts and hijabs did not deter our girl campers who once realized it was okay to play, committed fully to the game, playing as vigorously as their male counterparts.

New friendships were formed on the court as well, as Nayeli, daughter of one of our US-based volunteers, became the instant MVP and go-to player even with the presence of some “ringers” on the court (…me 😊).

The afternoons at camp are always a highlight as we introduce our campers to drone technology. From the time the first propellers are clicked onto the building drone, the campers were locked in. Hanging on to every word Eno Umoh, our drone instructor, spoke, you could see the anticipation grow as the campers eagerly awaited their chance to fly.

This year we were blessed to have two local drone pilots in our presence in Rose Funja and Francis Mutalemwa, who shared their inspiring journeys into drone technology from a local context. Hearing from Rose and Francis who addressed the campers in Swahili, their local language, made it more accessible for our campers as they could readily see that drones weren’t reserved for rich western countries. Rose, a former student of the very school where camp took place, told the tale of how her interest in science and technology helped her to discover drone technology and become a pioneer for women in Africa in the space.

Francis brought with him his homemade drone, built using locally sourced materials showing our campers that everything they needed was within their reach. The only natural question after hearing him speak was, who is ready to fly? We all were.

Flying the drone is always organized chaos as everyone is grabbing and grasping at their chance to fly one of the four drones buzzing in the air. Negotiating flying through gusts of wind with newly “trained” pilot fingers is a sight to behold, but we managed not to lose or damage any of the drones which is always a success.

Finally, as the camper filed out of Shaaban Robert Secondary School onto their bus on the journey towards their homes, several left longing smiles that said, we don’t want to leave. We smiled and hugged back letting them know that the feeling was mutual. Though our time at camp came to an end, the curiosity sparked and memories forged will last forever.

Thank you to our donors who make Camp NexGen™ a resounding success each year. None of this work is possible without you. To our partners, Camara Education, Global Air Drone Academy, and Shining Sport, we salute you for your sacrifice. Finally, to our volunteers, the lifeblood of camp, you are the soul of the experience and I am eternally grateful.

For those who have interest in partnering on a future camp, please reach out at info@campnexgen.org.

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Idara Otu

Founder & Board Chair — Let Girls Read, Run, Grow