Anti-Bullying Youth Camp Held in Almaty, Kazakhstan
- The December 17-19, 2020, anti-bullying camp trained youth aged 12 or older in ways to prevent bullying.
- Participants were also shown what to do if they themselves were bullied.
- Biblical principles of self-esteem and boundaries were explored.
29 January 2021 | From Adventist News Network (ANN) and the the Euro-Asia Division’s news site:
The youth department of the Central Community of Almaty, Kazakhstan, held a youth camp for children aged 12 and older from 17 to 19 December. The meetings were held from Thursday to Saturday in a picturesque place in Esik, Almaty, region, on the campus of the Adventist Health Center “Tau Kainar.”
The meetings were devoted to the topic of anti-bullying. Today, many teenagers joke when communicating, intentionally hurting each other’s feelings and humiliating those who are different from them. Camp meetings on this topic were organized with the aim of teaching young people how God desires us to relate to each other, how to behave if you are on the receiving end of bullying, what to do if you witness bullying behavior, or if you, without realizing, scoff at your peers.
As expected, every day began with exercises, words of inspiration, and prayer. The staff of the sanatorium worked hard to ensure that there was a variety of healthy and tasty food on the table. In addition to accommodation and meals, the health center team gave the children a massage master class, teaching them how to do anti-stress massage.
Each topic presented to the youth was accompanied by memorable Bible verses. The first topic, self-esteem, was a reflection on how one treats oneself, what values God offers, and how a lack of love distorts self-esteem. Saul’s example showed that “man looks at the outside, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). The second topic, boundaries in relationships, opened discussions of what boundaries are, how each person is personally responsible, how to respect the boundaries of other people, and how to accept and give love: “As iron hones iron, so people improve one another” (Proverbs 27:17).
The third topic was key: Bullying. Attendees learned what bullying is, how and why it happens, and, most importantly, what to do if they are under pressure, humiliated, or laughed at: “Do not harbor hatred on your fellow human. Rebuke your neighbor openly, so as not to become involved in their fault. Do not take revenge or harbor anger against your fellow tribesperson, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:17-18).
In addition, on Saturday morning, young people learned to say no to their “friends” who invited them to do something illegal, forbidden, and unkind. In practice, in a playful way, the children were introduced to ten ways to say “no,” and learned a memory verse: “My child, if sinners seduce you, do not give in to them. These people set up an ambush for the shedding of their own blood, lie in wait for themselves! Such are the ways of all who crave criminal prey; it takes life away from those who have taken possession of it” (Proverbs 1:10, 18-19).
The weather especially pleased those gathered in the camp, as outdoor activities had been scheduled every day in a part of the program called “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind!”
On Thursday, the group went on an activity walk to determine the level of self-esteem each of them experience, and on Thursday night, the entire camp was invited to watch the Christian film I Can Only Imagine, which addresses the issue of domestic violence. On Friday they had a fun outing to the slides with ice and balloons, which everyone enjoyed, and then everyone together celebrated Sabbath with a festive fruit table and the important topic “Sabbath in Eternity.” The biblical text identification game was a great blessing for the participants. Several mentors shared their experiences from the stop bullying camp, and attendees had to compare which biblical text fits a particular story.
On Saturday, divine service was held with singing, prayers, and important words of instruction from Pastor Vladimir Mikhailov. Mikhailov’s message was that the main hero of our lives is Jesus, who went through the cruelest “bullying” and remained the winner, because he was not alone, but with his Heavenly Father. His example and biblical promises give us the strength to overcome sometimes-difficult relationships: “And I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor demons, nor present, nor future, nor strength, nor height, nor depth–nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God, which we have in union with Jesus Christ, our Lord!” (Romans 8:38-39).