There can be few other women in Kuwait responsible for ensuring that quite so many children have had so much fun over the last ten years. Yet as the founder of the ever-popular K Camp summer camp, Suzy Beidoun has put smiles on more faces (children and adult alike) than you can imagine. In 2010 she’s celebrating the tenth anniversary of the first K Camp. Men’s Passion met Suzy and discovered that her passion for this, and many other projects, still burns strong.
Men’s Passion: Ten years of K Camp is quite an achievement, did you have any idea when you started that it would grow to be the success that it has become?
Suzy Beidoun:I never really had a vision for K Camp, I opened my company ‘Special Events’ thinking that we’d get involved in organising events, but at the time that didn’t roll out as quickly as I’d hoped. I had five employees coming from the Philippines and I needed to find something for them to do. Summer was approaching, and I had no idea what to do. I’d been Marketing Manager at ‘Beidoun’ but what I was contemplating here was something quite different.
MP: So it’s not the case that you spent months planning before opening the first K Camp?
SB:Oh no, not at all. I was thinking hard about what these five employees were going to do, and I settled on the idea of setting up a small summer camp for children. My own daughter had previously gone to a summer camp when she was three, but I had no idea what was involved in organising one. I researched, and figured it would be something we could do.
MP: The first camp you held at the old Messila Beach Hotel.
SB: That’s right. It was quite funny. I called my cousin, Kholoud Al-Feeli, and asked if she’d come with me to see Tony Barlow (Messila’s GM at that time), and within two minutes he’d agreed. So from that time I had a location for the camp, then I needed a name. It became K Camp - I chose the letter ‘K’ for Kholoud, she is a great source of energy. These days though everyone simply uses the ‘K’ for Kuwait, but there’s still a few of us who know the original meaning.
MP: How big was the first camp?
SB: For the first year we opened with around fifteen children, by the end of the first week we had thirty, by the second we had eighty, and by the end we had one-hundred and twenty.
MP: One-hundred and twenty children is a big handful for five Philippinos!
SB: The funny thing is - they weren’t even in Kuwait when we opened. They didn’t arrive on time! I’d called up all my friends who had children who were fourteen or fifteen years old, and hired them all! I ran the camp together with another friend, Zahra Al-Saleh.
MP: What was the concept of the camp at that time? Was it just about entertaining them and making sure they have fun through the summer after the schools have closed?
SB:I’ve always loved children, and enjoy having anything to do with them. My mother had one of the best nurseries in Lebanon. In creating K Camp I also enjoyed the challenge of creating something from zero.
As K Camp’s popularity spread, it inevitably outgrew a number of venues. After two years at Messila it moved to Shiik, The Palms, and latterly has been based at the Movenpick Hotel at Bida’a.
MP: What’s new for K Camp this year?
SB: We’re keeping the core activities we’ve always had - arts and crafts, karate, swimming and beach activities - but in order to add more we’re basing K Camp at the American School of Kuwait in Hawally. We’ll be headquartered there but using the facilities at The Movenpick as well. This year we’re now also able to offer street basketball, volleyball, badminton, soccer, and other new activities.
MP: After ten years you must now be in the lovely situation where some of the children who attended the first few K Camps are now coming back to help you run today’s camps?
SB: We do. And that’s lovely. We have children who started with us while very young, and now they’ve grown up and we welcome them back as Counsellors and Supervisors. My daughter is one of them - this year she’ll be a Supervisor.
MP: K Camp’s story is a remarkable one.
SB:It’s something that couldn’t have happened without the help of so many people. I’ve already mentioned Kholoud, and Zahra. But this is such a big event now that it could only be a success through teamwork. There are many people that are key to the growth of K Camp, especially Jenny Dudfield, Tania Boustany, and Amal Bakir. Through their work, and that of our great Counsellors and Supervisors, we’ve grown from fifteen children in our first week ten years ago, to being about to accept up to five-hundred this year.
Nurturing comes naturally to Suzy. Over the last ten years she has, perhaps unwittingly, created a pillar of Kuwait’s summertime which will prove to be one of her enduring legacies. K Camp is a success story on many levels, and with Suzy at the helm it looks set for many more years of delivering fun.
This year’s K Camp commences on June 13th, and runs through for five weeks. To find out more visit www.kuwaitcamp.com
First Published in Men's Passion Issue #23 June-July-August 2010