Sending Kids to Fake 'Refugee Camps' Is All Sorts of Wrong

refugee camp for kidsMost parents hope to raise empathetic children, but what lengths would you go to teach this virtue? Parents in Norway are enrolling teens in a camp that gives new meaning to the idea of "roughing it." Refugee Norway is an organization that actually simulates the experience of being in a refugee camp so Norwegian teens can experience it firsthand. Say what? 


Talk about truly walking a mile in someone else's shoes -- these "campers" have to cough up all electronic gadgets and devices before heading on a 24-hour trek that takes them far from home in freezing weather conditions. Yikes! 

We're all for teaching compassion, but this certainly seems a bit harsh, doesn't it? In case you think we're overreacting, here's a quote from the website:

In the roleplay “Refugee” you will experience frustration, physical exhaustion, joy and great disappointment. But most of all, you will have an experience to remember for the rest of your life!

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While the kids may remember it for the rest of their lives, is it for the right reasons? Will they leave this camp inspired to go out and do something on behalf of these misplaced families, or will they simply return home weary but grateful for their creature comforts?

It seems like it would leave a greater and more positive impression if these teens actually helped build houses for the homeless or served in a soup kitchen. Pretending to be a refugee for a day -- and paying to do so -- seems a lot like mocking the very people you're trying to empathize with.

Educating younger generations about the plight of those in need is a wonderful ambition, but this idea feels seriously misguided.


Image via Catalin Petolea/Shutterstock

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