Lions Club#039;s youth camp #039;cowboys up#039;

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Thirty-nine young men from 23 countries were treated to Southern hospitality, western style at Cattleman Park Wednesday.

The Troy State University Intercollegiate Rodeo Team hosted the Montgomery Lions Club's 40th International Youth Camp and entertained the young men with a mini-rodeo that had them yee-hawing, wrangling and riding.

"Of all the things that we have done, I like this best," said Marcos Zaborowsky of Brazil. "I like this because I like animals. This is very good here and it is fun, much fun."

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Zaborowsky's dad raises quarter horses and he has spent a lot of time around horses and other animals. His experiences with animals gave him the opportunity to do a little showboating in the arena. Zaborowsky joined most of the young men in the calf scramble and quickly "jumped on a calf" and snatched the yellow ribbon from its tail.

He laughingly said he was right at home in the cowboy's world.

Most of the young men were seeing a live rodeo for the first time. Their reactions indicated that they were having a very good time.

"Cool," was the word most used to describe the rodeo.

Christian Jansson of Sweden and Rune Hansen of Denmark both said the rodeo was a real treat.

"It's cool," Hansen said. "I don't think it is something that I could do. I am impressed with this."

Jansson agreed that the cowboys were cool, but, the cowgirls, "They are sexy. I did not know that girls could throw a goat to the ground, but I like to see that."

The young men began their camp experience in Washington, D.C., and visited Richmond, Va., Chattanooga, Huntsville, Moulton, Montgomery and Atlanta before coming to Troy.

Mert Karci of Turkey said he has been fascinated by "all of the green" in Alabama.

"In Turkey, we don't have all of this," he said. "It is beautiful and the people are very friendly. The Lions Club camp has been a wonderful experience. I have met many people and made many friends."

To a man, the youths said they are anxiously to get to the beaches of Florida and to Disney World.

"We stay busy and go so many places," Karci said. "That is good."

Going so many places is what makes the Montgomery Lions International Youth Camp so unique, said Jesper Duelund, camp director.

"There are many Lions Club camps around the world but this one is unique because of the travel," he said. "The other camps are based at a location and stay in the area. This one is unique that everyone likes that."

Duelund attended the camp in 1998 and enjoyed it so much that he returned the following two years as assistant director and is now the director.

"The purpose of the camp is to promote friendships and understanding among youth throughout the world and to contribute toward world peace," Duelund said. "This group is all male and they have the opportunity to make many long, lasting friendships. Although, they wish sometimes that girls were in the group."

Duelund said the young men have to be selected by local Lions' Club to attend the camp.

"In some areas it is very competitive," he said. "Many want to have this opportunity to travel and learn. This is a wonderful camp and a great experience for those who are fortunate to have the opportunity."

The group was welcomed to Troy by Troy State University Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. and Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford.

Hawkins congratulated the young men on going beyond their own countries and invited them to look at Troy State University if they decide to attend college in a distant land.

"At Troy State University we have students from 60 different countries and we invite you to look at our university," he said. "You will be welcome here."

Lunsford also encouraged the young men to consider Troy, Alabama, when looking for a college abroad.

"We welcome you to Troy and to Alabama," he said. "You are in for a real treat today. The TSU Rodeo Team is a first class act."

"This was the first time my eyes have seen a real rodeo and it was

cool," Jansson said. "I took many pictures to show to my family and friends at home. They will be impressed."