PEPY Program Manager takes part in ‘School of Youth’ camp in Spain
PEPY Program Manager-Duth Kimsru recently returned from Spain where she attended a 10 day adventure camp with School of Youth – for Sustainability and Human Flourishing. It was held at Camping Masia Saderness in the Alta Garrotxa Nature Park. The purpose of the trip was to assess whether this would be a good program for PEPY Scholarship students to attend next year. The youth camp is open to young people aged 16 to 27 years old and in 2015, will be hosted in 3 countries, Spain, Scotland and Lebanon.
Three core values from the School of Youth are: Creative Minds, Open Hearts, Wild Places. The camp combines outdoor activities with music, art and philosophy.
Many of international participants came from neighboring European countries, one from Lebanon and Kimsru was the only one from Asia. Communication was interesting, as for most, English was their second language. Over the course of the camp, individuals shared their talents with the group in singing, playing musical instruments, and dancing.
From an outdoor kitchen, the chef created fresh, healthy vegan food. Information was shared about good nutrition. Kimsru said the food was nice and although it was different to her normal diet she enjoyed some of the meals. She did miss eating meat and rice though.
The daily activities consisted of hiking, rock climbing, art, music and swimming in a gorgeous natural pool. Students were encouraged to work together and support each other in many of the activities and then there were quiet times for self reflection and individual work. One of the land art projects was a silent activity where everyone worked independently to create something artistic with natural materials found in the area.
One of the solo activities involved each student spending 24 hours away from the rest of the group. Kimsru said it was the first time she has been camping and then to isolate herself was challenging. She told the team leader that she did not know how to put up a tent and he said that she would have plenty of time to work it out! As it turned out she didn’t because it started raining and she needed shelter. Perched on a big rock, Kimsru sat inside the tent with it half erected with the rain pouring outside. She chose to be close to a waterfall and creek as she felt the sound of running water would keep her distracted from the noises in the forest, particularly at night. The object of this activity was to connect with nature, reflect on life and future plans and to manage with little food. Kimsru was pleased that she completed the 24 hours, but when she returned to camp she was very hungry.
Kimsru said that there were challenges along the way but the the overall experience was very positive. Some of the activities were created to push you out of your comfort zone but having good support and encouragement from camp leaders and other participants made the hard activities seem possible. New friendships were made, music and dancing shared. Lots of life stories were told and photographs taken. Discussions about the environment, sustainable living, social entrepreneurship, time for self reflection and learning about ‘values’ were really enjoyed and were enriched by the multicultural mix of the group. The experience of traveling internationally has made Kimsru more confident for any further trips taken in the future. The opportunity to attend this camp has created lifelong memories and new friends.
Overall it was a very good experience and one that will be considered for PEPY Scholarship students in the future. It could provide PEPY students with the opportunity to travel, participate in activities that they ordinarily would not experience, discuss global issues, connect with other cultures, and further develop their confidence and team building skills.