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


16th September 2016

Training for Camp Instructors - Towards Common Standards. Setubal, Portugal Sep 1st-7th

WE DID IT! That was not a simulation, that was happening. Everything, except for a bonfire was real: tents, heat, the ocean, climbing rocks, dusty paths and all the situations we faced. We even had a real baby (charming Zosia) to look after.

The training event in the greater part was funded by Erasmus+. In the project participated people supported from Erasmus+ grant, but some other sources allowed to bring some more trainees. Altogether there were 37 participants, who represented 10 countries: Italy, Finland, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, The Netherlands and the USA.

The facilitators of activities, like most of participants were camp staff or volunteers. They had been involved in running camps all the summer and in spite of that managed to prepare great activities for our training - without this we would not have the program and all previous arrangements would have been in vain. The venue was scenic (situated in Arrabida Natural Park), but also quite challenging because of various park regulations or restrictions. All that was an extra exercise for all and that good.

Team building had special meaning in this particular event. One of the expected outcomes was to gather a group of leaders who would be working together for several years on the camping programme in Europe. The activities were very practical, because they were supposed to give a feeling of reliability and being dependent on one another. A hike on rocky mountain paths and rock climbing were a great test for all. Not every individual would be able to do this, however, thanks to well-coordinated teamwork all physical and psychological barriers were overcome. The test was passed of course!

Our Portuguese hosts did a great job too - they fulfilled all the planned commitments and also were solving problems, which were appearing but were not visible to us - that was really something! And the visit to Setubal YMCA centers in the city was another evidence that this is an excellent organization with a good future ahead.

This project has not finished yet. Now the YMCA of Setubal needs to carry out all the follow up activities. This is also a part of the camping programme of YMCA Europe, which means work on edition and dissemination the outcome materials and planning the next steps to keep the team together and get involved leaders from other YMCA associations. The Facebook group is one of the most helpfull tools..Volunteers and staff involved in camping are able to contribute to creating and shaping the programme - because of this the process really belongs to them.

We are thankful to everyone that contributed to this training event. We learn from each other and made our best to make this week a very successful one both for the participants and hopefully for the YMCAs they represent.

The week that we spent together proved that the participants are real camping people - not ones who talk about camps, but these who make them. We can go together further in this creative process of setting common standards in the YMCA Camps in Europe. We also believe that our American friends, who contributed to the programme in a great way, will stay with us.

Author/Source: Adam Rychlik, YMCA Europe Executive Secretary