When the Summer Olympic Games kick off August 8, sporting enthusiasts from around the world will focus their attention on Beijing, China. In tandem with this event, the Olympic Youth Camp offers an intercultural experience to 16- to 18-year-olds to not only experience the spirit of the Games first hand, but also to expand their knowledge and appreciation for the world’s diverse cultures while sharing and rejoicing in their own experiences.
In the run up to this year’s Olympics, the Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (BOCOG) allocated every National Olympic Committee two spots, for one male and one female to attend the Olympic Youth Camp. Two Caribbean sailors, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Sydney Jones and British Virgin Islands’ Alec Anderson, will be among the lucky delegates to experience this all-expenses paid camp.
“The BVI Olympic Committee selects its participants from any sport based on their assessments of your Olympic potential and I was chosen as the male and to represent sailing,” says Anderson, who has his sights set on sailing Lasers in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Attending this camp, says Anderson, “Will provide me with the experience to see the Olympic processes and see the sailing events, and that will be incredible. I also get to visit China and meet other youth camp participants.”
It’s the mind-expanding aspect of travel that Sydney Jones, a talented Laser Radial sailor, looks forward to. “I’ve been to Europe, but never China. I’m looking forward to the culture, the people and the food. I don’t know what to expect and am keeping my mind open to everything.”
According to the BOCOG, the camp is expected to host 800 teenagers. For the first time in the history of the Olympic Youth Camp, 50 representatives with disabilities will be invited to also participate.
This edition of Olympic Youth Camp will be themed harmony, inclusiveness, identification, experience and creativity. Through the camp, organizers will provide an opportunity for the world’s youth to study the Olympic spirit, experience sport and cultural charm and promote understanding and friendship, thus widely spreading the Olympic spirit and advocating the ideal of world peace, human development and common prosperity.
The theme slogan of "Youth Creates the Future of the World" underscores the camp and underlines the impact of young people’s innovative spirit on a better world in the future.
The Beijing Olympic Games’ youth camp program will follow international practices while displaying Chinese characteristics. Camp members will attend the Games’ Opening and Closing Ceremonies and sports events, and some of them will be selected to take part in Olympic Torch Relay as well as visit the Olympic Village.
A major component of the program is to learn through experience Chinese history and culture. Aside from sightseeing activities and visits to be arranged by the organizing committee, campers will have an opportunity to participate in workshops on traditional Chinese culture, including martial art, calligraphy, folk arts and crafts and Chinese children’s games.
At the camp’s conclusion, Anderson says, “I think I will have a better understanding of how the Olympics work, and as I hope to attend them one day, benefit me entirely!”
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.