On August 12, 2022, 26 enthusiastic and committed grade 12 students from 5 high schools in Phnom Penh and Kandal began their journey to an eco-friendly retreat site in Kampong Chhnang province to join TFC & DHL Cambodia’s second annual Youth Camp.
Eighteen DHL volunteers, 5 TFC teacher leaders, and three TFC staff members planned, organized, and delivered this 3-day event. These students are from TFC partner schools based in urban and rural communities: Chea Sim Chroy Chongva High School, Russey Keo High School, Hun Sen Sompov Poun High School, Bun Rany Hun Sen Koh Dach High School, and Hun Sen Koh Thom High School.
Despite coming from different schools, all 26 participants joined the Youth Camp with a common goal: to develop a deeper understanding of themselves and learn how to prepare themselves for university and the workforce. For three days, students attended training and sessions under three main themes: Leading Self, Youth Employability, and Environment Sustainability.
Day 1 – Leading Self
Leading Self was conducted with the belief that “To lead others, you must learn to lead yourself. To lead yourself, you must learn to know yourself.” The session provided a safe and welcoming space for students to reflect on who they are, starting from their backgrounds up to their hopes and dreams. Using a Tree of Life exercise, students practiced sharing their Story of Self. Each student came with their own story and wisdom, demonstrating self-awareness and courage to share with the broader group. As a result, 92% of the students indicated that they are more aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, 70% of the students felt more confident than before the session and Youth Camp.
Day 2 – Youth Employability
On the second day, participants learned about making informed decisions for university by attending Youth Employability presentations. Three volunteers from DHL shared their success stories during one session, offering students three different perspectives. Next, students learned how to write CVs and prepared for in-person mock interviews with DHL volunteers. Through these activities, 88% of participants felt they had a clearer idea of what they would like to work in, and 81% felt more positive about their future.
Day 3 – Environment
On the last day, students shifted their focus toward the importance of volunteering and environmental sustainability. This gave students and volunteers the opportunity to work hands-on together and plant 50 trees. Afterward, students toured the retreat facilities to learn how they have built an eco-friendly business and community. This is a rare opportunity for many students in Cambodia not only to gain exposure to the employability world but also to combine that with awareness of sustainability early on.
One TFC staff member shared: “What’s most surprising is not that the students actively absorbed the knowledge and experience—it was the spirit of camaraderie amongst the students. There was no barrier between schools and classes: all were friends. It was magical to watch many students transformed within a short period, gaining the confidence that they were eager to have. Students who had described themselves as ‘shy’ gathered the courage to raise their hands, pick up a mic, and speak their minds in front of an audience.”
According to the end-of-program survey results: 85% of the students felt more informed, 70% felt more motivated, and 65% felt more inspired than before the Youth Camp. This shows a significant shift in mindset after just a weekend program. Overall, our students gained confidence about who they are and what they have to offer in their future careers. They gained more knowledge about employability in Cambodia, learned important skills that helped prepare them for entering employment, and gained hands-on experience with environmental sustainability. These shifts can positively affect employability outcomes for these students and have possible ripple effects on their families and communities.