This past week PeacePlayers-Cyprus held its annual Summer Camp. The camp hosted 64 Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot youth for 6 days and 5 nights at the Rodon Hotel in the Mountain Village of Agros. In attendance at the camp were the Brooklyn Nets Assistant Coach and former NBA player Doug Overton and former WNBA player Shaunzinski Gortman. If the final day was any indicator as to how the camp went, then all involved would say it was a huge success. As the seconds ticked down and the buses pulled up, hugs and goodbyes began to fill the reception area of the Rodon hotel. Doug and Shaunzinski frantically signed shirts and scribbled autographs on the programs and scrap paper that campers pushed their way.
The week was filled with basketball and learning. Campers woke up in the early hours and started their day with some morning activities before breakfast. Activities ran through the week, including pool time, a disco night, a survival game obstacle course, and a film workshop. But at the core of the camp was basketball and classroom time. On the court, campers were run through drills and given time to compete in games. In the classrooms, they learned about leadership and the importance of volunteering from Fellow Ashley Johnson and head of the PPI-CY board Akis Christofides, the Anatomy of Peace from Coordinator Athanasios Souflias, Managing Director Marina Vasilara, and Board member Tarik Tekman, and other life skills and issues of personal development. Both Doug and Shaunzinski spoke to the campers as well, touching on the importance of believing in oneself and having the confidence to succeed.
It was apparent to anyone observing our campers that the bicommunal efforts of PeacePlayers Cyprus are having an impact on our participants. The children from both sides of the island were interacting to the point that you could not tell we were running a bicommunal event. As they played on and off the court together the participants seamlessly weaved in and out of their assigned teams and groups leaving no one isolated or alone, regardless of where they were from on the island. One night, as Doug asked the question “what is one thing you have learned so far from camp?” a participant stated that he had learned the language of the campers from the other of the island.
The camp is a great chance for our participants to be exposed to prolonged interaction with kids that they usually do not get to interact with on a daily basis. To be able to spend 6 days and 5 nights together allows them to get to know PeacePlayers Cyprus, its staff, its guests, and most importantly its participants better.
Thanks to the Brooklyn Nets and the Embassy of the United States Nicosia Cyprus for making this event possible!