„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“


8th September 2017

Training conference in Harva Camp in Finland, Aug 28.-Sep 03. 2017

The conference was founded mostly by Erasmus+ National Agency in Finland and was prepared by YMCA Finland in cooperation with YMCA Europe. There were 38 representatives of 9 European YMCA movements and 2 experts sent by the YMCA of the USA. Among European participants and trainers more than one third had attended previous training events on camping. That was a sign that such gatherings are needed and we are quite advanced in developing the programme of YMCA Camps in Europe. For those who came for the first time that was an opportunity of picking brains of more experienced colleagues.

The camping side on Harva Island in Finnish Archipelago was a perfect venue: scenic, equipped with good facilities and suitable for running some practical activities in a unique way. Building rafts and sailing on them was one of example how team-building activities can be run in an attractive way. Certainly there were other Finnish (specific) attractions e.g. sauna, which some people may like. All in all, working on common standards we could enjoy couleur locale at the same time.

This time we focused on camp management. Common standards need commonly recognised policies and some associations, which are not so advanced at camp programmes, had a good choice of proved policies in such areas as safety, strategic planning, recruiting staff, team building, dealing with diversity, education of campers etc.

The number of people and camps that are involved in building Camping Program as pan European platform is growing. They are already creating remarkable community that shares the same values and recognise the need of building common standards. They contribute to this process in various ways and are going to support each other. There is a special word In Finnish language for help and support within a community. It is "TALKOOT". Let it be a Finnish contribution to the program vocabulary and a memory of this conference. This is also a tribute to the Finnish YMCA leadership for being such great host. We hope that one of the next training events will be organised in Finland as well.

There were some important conclusions and decisions that concerned the future of the Camping Program. One of them was the decision of creating a new programme group in YMCA Europe. There are identified leaders from some European national movement who will coordinate the work of this group. To cooperation are invited American partners - experts on camping who ran activities during the Conference. This is a very important moment in developing camping program in Europe and also for building the world coalition.

Project co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union

Read more about the Common Standards Training in Portugal - 2016

Author/Source: Adam Rychlik, YMCA Europe executive secretary