On Egypt: An Interview with Kyle Castner
Pyramids, camels, extreme heat . . . sound familiar? This past May, Cairo, Egypt was a recent travel destination for many Cairn students. I had the opportunity to sit down with my brother, Kyle Castner, who attended the Cairn Egypt trip, and record some of his experiences for The Scroll.
Kyle began by explaining where the Cairn team stayed while in Egypt, detailing a resort-style location complete with hotels, cabins, athletic fields, a pool, and a turf field with a roof. The overall goal of this trip was to support WellSpring Egypt in running summer camps for Egyptian children. Cairn students worked as camp coaches and counselors, focusing on character development and building relationships with kids.
Q: This was a trip that required your time and energy—what ultimately motivated you to attend this trip? And what were some of the preparations you had to make in order to go on the trip?
A: I have always wanted to go on an overseas trip, I’ve been saying that for years. Also, I love sports. Sports are my favorite thing to do. The price was also incredible—3 weeks in Egypt for $1,000 . . . to gain that experience for that little of a price was unbelievable. For preparations, I went to interest meetings. They gave us a list of shots that we could get, but no shots were mandatory. To prove we were definitely interested in the trip we had to put a $50 deposit down. That said we were going, and then they bought us our plane ticket. During the time before we left, we had to raise $1,000 to actually go on the trip. I spoke in my church about the trip, and I also typed up a newsletter that was mailed to members of my church to help raise support.
Q: I understand this was a sports-oriented trip. How was playing our popular American sports in Egypt different than playing them here?
A: Well, all the kids wanted to play was soccer. Every day they would say, “Mr. Mr.! When are we playing soccer?!” So their footwork was unbelievable, but their hand-eye coordination was not up to speed. For them, growing up and playing sports was mostly focused on using their feet and not their hands.
Q: There were several Cairn students who traveled to Egypt on this trip. How do you feel the other Cairn students enriched the experience for you? What were the relationships like among the students?
A: The team as a whole was so much fun. The group of people that went was perfect. We were serious when we needed to be, but other than that, it was absolute fun and laughter. When we played mini-games by ourselves, it was really competitive, and the girls held their own. It was a really competitive atmosphere among the counselors. Among just the guys, I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun in my life. There wasn’t any cell service or connection, but it wasn’t just that we couldn’t use our phones. Whenever we were all together, it was all genuine interaction. During free time, we just entertained ourselves, which is when a lot of the shenanigans happened, and a lot of memories I’ll never forget.
Q: Did you have any preconceived notions before visiting Egypt? Did you experience a significant culture shock?
A: I went in not really knowing much or expecting much, but when I got there, the food was very different. You could tell there were no preservatives. It was just straight meat and straight vegetables. The people were unbelievably welcoming, and I’ve never been with people like that who no matter what the circumstance, had a smile on their face. Even sometimes when you couldn’t understand them, we were always joking around with them. We always had jokes between counselors, American and Egyptian. One thing that I definitely learned, and wasn’t told at the beginning, was to be flexible. My meaning of flexible was about a million times different than their term flexible. Whenever I was taking my campers to an event, I left 5 minutes early to get there on time, but then I would wait for the Egyptian counselors who would be late. They’d show up singing songs with their kids. Schedule changes would happen, like huge changes, before things would take place. But we just rolled with it; you couldn’t be uptight. You had to be a relaxed and “go with the flow” type person.
Q: Although this was certainly a fun trip, I’m sure this was a trip God used to work in your own life. Did you learn any lessons from going to Egypt, or felt like you grew spiritually at all?
A: Oh yeah, of course. I mean, this trip showed me that I definitely have a heart for serving others, and it is the reason why I’m in the major I’m in today. I had so much fun, and just loved how different it was over there, and learned how much I don’t like the whole “first world” outlook on things.
Q: As we conclude the interview, are there any last thoughts you might want to share?
A: If anyone is looking for a trip, or thinking they might want to go into serving overseas, I highly recommend it. Even if you just wanted to experience something new, I would recommend it as well. It was one of the best decisions of my life.