“Raid Cross” IHL program — Need event inspiration?

On June 25th, the American Red Cross in the National Capital Region held a leadership day for youth volunteers called Raid Cross.  The interactive war games simulation helped teach 24 youth volunteers the rules governing conflicts under International Humanitarian Law.  Throughout Raid Cross the youth experienced firsthand the tough choices civilians and humanitarian workers make during conflicts.  They rotated through seven different posts led by adult volunteers and staff from the region.  One post had the youth role play as humanitarian aid workers.  During this post, they had to carry essential supplies across a battlefield while shot at by “snipers” with water guns.  In another post, youth became soldiers in the “Haddarian Army” and had to determine which artillery targets to attack.  After each simulation was complete, the youth were debriefed on specific humanitarian laws that applied to each role they played and the scenario they had experienced.  At the conclusion of Raid Cross, the final post had the youth go through a military tribunal for war crimes they may have committed during the simulation and as a result how international law may have been violated.

The planning and preparations for Raid Cross began months before the event.  While there is a wealth of information regarding Raid Cross online, we decided to create a detailed and clearly defined script to help prepare our adult volunteers for their various roles and to effectively bring Raid Cross to life.  The next step was to find a suitable location that provided a natural terrain for the various simulations.  After considerable research, we decided on a paintball park about an hour outside of DC that created a perfect setting for Raid Cross and also could provide lunch for each participant.  Of course, the paintball park also helped entice the youth to participate in Raid Cross as we scheduled in enough time for two hours of paintball play at the end of the day.  Other location ideas included local military bases, historical museums/houses with large open fields attached, and community centers.  Once our location was secured and the script complete, the remaining items to finish were including but not limited to coordinating transportation (we shuttled youth from various offices across our region), scheduling of the day (master schedules and schedules of the various rotations), and any remaining props you may need that the location cannot provide for you.

Raid Cross can be a low budget event and can be altered to fit your own Chapter’s goals for their youth leadership day.  Creativity is important.  For example, my intern and I made most of the props ourselves including old ripped t-shirts to use as arm bands to signify different roles and printed enlarged photos for the artillery targets.  We also utilized materials from the Red Cross such as old CPR manikins for wounded soldiers and disaster vests for the ICRC representatives.  In the end the only materials bought were water guns (snipers), water balloons (bombs) and lots of duct tape.  You can also decide to host sections of Raid Cross rather than the entire program to save money.

In the end, the more physically active posts were the most popular among our youth volunteers.  They enjoyed dodging sniper fire (crazy, I know) and were gratified when they successfully crossed the battlefield bringing humanitarian aid to those who needed it.  The majority of the youth and even some of our adult volunteers attended Raid Cross with limited to no knowledge of International Humanitarian Law and through the simulations were forced to think critically and work as a team to properly complete each task assigned.  By the end, everyone involved came away with a better understanding of IHL and the global world we live in which for the National Capital Region was our main goal.

For more information our event, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected].

Also check out this video summary of the Raid Cross: A role play on International Humanitarian Law!


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