The C15 Summer Camp 2014 – so much more than just any free time!
While it was an excursion into the unknown for six Bosnian, four Croatian, five Montenegrin, eight Polish and four Serbian boys and girls and their counsellors, many German youths between 14 and 17 years of age would rather roll their eyes in boredom if they heard about a 19-day summer camp in Königswinter near Bonn.
But the different countries from which the participants came alone make it clear that the Campus15 summer camp is not just any youth camp with party-addicted teenagers. Rather, as all participants, including six Germans, can confirm, the summer camp is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will remain unforgettable for all participants.
This is due to several factors. Firstly, the participants, who were selected from many applicants and who are often active at home in NGOs such as educational or cultural institutions, relief organisations or the Boy Scouts. Open-minded, motivated and full of ideas, as well as the aspiration to make a difference, these young people met each other. An exciting process of feeling each other out and getting to know each other began, and little by little, shared experiences welded together a community that could not easily be separated again. Friendships that develop here last, if not forever, then an eternity.
Secondly, one should probably mention the “location” where the summer camp takes place: The Malteserhof in Königswinter, an old, winding estate with a majestic tower and a huge park, are an area that creates atmosphere and leaves nothing to be desired. The German participants at the 2014 summer camp also felt like they were on holiday here.
Finally, the programme, the purpose of the summer camp. It is no coincidence that young people from the Balkans as well as from Germany and Poland are here to learn to understand each other and break down prejudices. To this end, there were a variety of joint activities, such as an “orientation hike”, a kind of scavenger hunt, rafting, climbing and much more. Workshops and discussions were also an important part of the programme. Among other things, there were workshops on human rights, the reduction of prejudices and the future of the European Union. There was always contact with decision-makers such as a representative of the European Representation in Bonn, MEP Axel Voss and a human rights activist from Serbia. In addition, a press conference was organised where some of the participants answered the numerous questions of the media representatives.
Creativity was also an important part of the programme. Therefore, there were the so-called “Creative Workshops”, which were divided into the groups LandArt, Theatre, Circus and Music/Percussion. In addition to these, the Project Groups allowed the participants to let off steam creatively and work together on a project. The Project Groups were divided into Video, Radio, Newspaper and Commercial. The latter group took care of PR and the organisation of parties and other events during the camp. Through the work results of the Project Groups, the participants all ended up with wonderful memories in digital and printed form to take home. The third important element besides Creative Workshops and Project Groups were the Element Groups, which became a family for the duration of the camp. Here they could exchange ideas, discuss problems, wishes and hopes and always found open ears. Excursions to Cologne and Bonn, a “Sports Day” and numerous parties provided variety.
Last but not least, C15 Chairman Hubert Simon and our “teamers” should be mentioned. Substitute parents, big brothers and sisters and sometimes a tiny bit of teacher in one, they were the ones who made this unforgettable experience possible with their organisational talent and enthusiasm.
That cannot be put into words, what can be said is that during the time of the camp, an incomparable sense of community develops, which creates wonderful friendships.
If you want to know more, there is only one thing left to do: apply for the next summer camp and have unforgettable experiences yourself!
Henri Weindel, participant summer camp 2014