governor's camp

IRAQ. Basra governorate. Near Umm Qasr. March 16, 2009. Detainees walk after prayer at Camp Bucca, a U.S. military detention centre. At its peak, the prison located 340 miles southeast of Baghdad held 26,000 detainees.

Camp Bucca has been described as playing an important role in shaping ISIS. The detention of large numbers of Jihadists and ex-Ba’athists during the Iraqi insurgency provided them with the opportunity to forge alliances and learn from each other, combining the ideological fervour of the former with the organisational skills of the latter. Former Camp Bucca detainees who went on to become leaders in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant include Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Daesh; Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, al-Baghdadi’s deputy; Haji Bakr, who spearheaded ISIL’s expansion into Syria; Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi, the military leader responsible for planning the seizure of Mosul; and Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, another senior military leader. Abu Mohammad al-Julani, who founded the Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, was also a Camp Bucca detainee.

Photograph: Yuri Kozyrev/Noor

imgreasy  asked:

I sent you a message about being from South Dakota a while ago, but one of my camp counsellors just posted a link to an article about you on facebook and she mentioned camp. did you go to ambassadors of excellence camp??????

uuUUUUUM YES I DID AND I LOOKED FORWARD TO IT EVERY SINGLE SUMMER IT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF MY YEAR.  

Okay so South Dakota has had, for decades, the lowest paid teachers in the nation. This means attracting new talent is difficult, recruiting teachers from out-of-state is nearly impossible, and retaining good teachers is a challenge, too. Turnover is super high. And, much of South Dakota’s public schools are in somewhat remote, rural areas - the state hasn’t yet reached a population of a million people. All of this to say that enhanced educational opportunities outside of your normal public school experience are sorta rare. 

But then - when I was in middle school my parents learned about these two summer programs hosted at the University of South Dakota; one for middle-schoolers (Governors Camp) and one for high-schoolers (Ambassadors Camp). Essentially you get to go to USD for a week or so, do team-building activities, attend summarized classes (I took some on Chinese language, poetry, painting, sculpture, photography, maybe a physics one, chemistry). The ‘Ambassadors’ are group leaders for the Governors students, so as a high schooler you get a chance to learn how to set a good example for younger students and you identify with the middle schoolers ‘cuz you typically went through the Governors program too. 

But then. In addition to classes and workshops and stuff, you also worked on putting together a final show - a theater production with skits, musical numbers with choreography, stand-up routines, and at the end the seniors wear their prom/homecoming dresses and sing a super emotional song about Family and seriously everyone cries on stage in front of their friends and family. During the week the counselors would facilitate these sessions where you got all the students together and you went around a big circle and everyone said what they liked about you as a person. They passed around a piece of paper with your name on it and the other camp kids wrote nice things about you. I still have those papers somewhere at my parent’s house.

This all might sound a bit bizarre and touchy-feely but those camp experiences are responsible for a huge part of who I have become today. During a time when I felt ostracized by my peers at school, I had this little safe haven of other quirky, nerdy, creative, smart kids that I got to meet from all around the state. We kept in touch throughout the year and looked forward to seeing one another every summer for a few happy days. I had so many formative experiences during those short weeks, and got to be exposed to a promising world outside of my teenage depression and deep feelings of hopelessness. 

Plus I still remember the choreography to Pat Benetar’s Love is a Battlefield and all the lyrics to Pinball Wizard, so talk about a lasting impression. There’s probably an incriminating YouTube video of either/both out there somewhere.

Seriously, if you live in South Dakota and/or have a child entering 7th-12th grade, look into the USD Governors Camp, or the Ambassadors of Excellence Camps. They provide scholarships and financial aid, too. That camp saved my life!