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A Ugandan refugee camp is a world away from where freeskier Gus Kenworthy has built his career.

But far from the snowy mountains, Kenworthy found a shared connection with refugee athletes through sport.

Kenworthy, the 2014 Olympic silver medalist in freeski slopestyle, traveled to the Nakivale camp in southwest Uganda in June, spending two weeks filming for an Olympic Channel docu-series, Camps to Champs.

On his visit to the camp, Kenworthy saw what sport could mean in one of the world’s largest refugee camps.

“It gives them a sense of purpose to wake up in the day and they know that they’re playing a basketball game or they’re going for a run with their friends,” Kenworthy said. “It’s just amazing to see how much they’ve done with how little they have.”

Just getting back from a truly remarkable week in Africa. As I mentioned before I left, the upcoming Olympic Games will be featuring a team made up entirely of refugees. Because of that, the Olympics brought me on as an athlete host for a documentary series that journeys into various camps and talks to refugees about their daily lives, their pasts and how sport helps them to find relief from their current situations. Although it ended up being a much more emotional experience than I anticipated, I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing, kind, inspiring people and to hear their stories. While I was in the Nakivale refugee camp in Uganda I got to play with the kids and partake in various sports with the refugees. The one resounding thing I heard them say, was that playing sports is their saving grace. They spoke of how free they felt when they were engaged in whichever sport was their sport and how they could channel their pain and frustration into their performance and use it to push themselves further. I can't wait to watch, and root for, the refugee team (in addition to the US team) at the upcoming games in Rio. ❤️

A photo posted by gus kenworthy (@guskenworthy) on

The film, which debuts on the Olympic Channel digital platform on Thursday, follows Kenworthy on his visit to Nakivale, a camp of about 100,000 refugees.

The scale alone was surprising to Kenworthy, who knew little of the camp beforehand and expected a few tents.

While there, he trained with a running team made up of athletes from warring countries, Kenworthy said. He could see their feet coming through holes in their shoes.

“I ran with them for a little while,” Kenworthy said, “until they basically kicked my ass and I couldn’t keep up anymore.”

Kenworthy played basketball with teams on a raked dirt court. He trained with a power lifting team that uses cement-filled buckets and soda bottles for weights.

“It was really inspiring to see how much they made a gym for themselves, and also all the guys were jacked,” Kenworthy said. “They had given their life to it because it’s like there’s not very much for them in the camp and the gym is this outlet is where they get to feel free and not think about these other burdens and atrocities in their life.”

Refugee athletes have been a focus for the International Olympic Committee this year as it sponsored a 10-person team that competed in Rio. While each had an inspiring journey to the Games, all had to meet qualifications to be selected to the team.

For Kenworthy, that elite athletes could overcome conditions like he saw in Uganda and three other Olympians saw in camps in Greece, Jordan and Colombia was impressive.

“I had basically every opportunity to make my dreams come true, and that’s basically the opposite for these refugees,” said Kenworthy, a three-time X Games medalist who grew up in Colorado. “They are going based off of pure drive and natural talent and determination, and they’re basically given little to no opportunities to better their situation. So I think it’s incredible. I think it’s really inspiring.”

Kenworthy, who came out as gay in 2015, did have some safety concerns in Uganda, where LGBT people are persecuted.

While he felt not talking about his sexuality was a bit like “going back in the closet,” he sympathized with refugees in the camps who had to come to terms with their sexuality there.

“It was still scary just knowing there was a kind of a risk just for being who I was,” Kenworthy said, noting that the Olympic Channel had safety measures in place. “I think that was the first time that I’ve kind of felt that, at least at that level.”

While at Nakivale, Kenworthy spoke with refugees who had seen their families murdered and homes burned. He met an albino woman who had spoken to few in the camp because albino people are sometimes hunted and eaten.

In the woman’s couple months at Nakivale, Kenworthy was the first to hug her.

“The people who are in the camps haven’t done anything wrong,” he said. “They haven’t done anything to put themselves in the situation that they’re in. They’re just victims of circumstance. It’s just tough. I had no idea the magnitude before I went there.

“It was a really eye-opening trip.”

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