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


15th August 2017

Work camps are the most common form of short-term volunteering, where a group of volunteers work and live together on a project which has been identified by a local community or working with that community.

YMCA Serbia in coordination with the Young Researchers of Serbia - Voluntary Service of Serbia has organized an international voluntary work camp named Upgrade, Upcycle, Understand held from 15th to 27th July in Backi Petrovac, Serbia.

This year, they had a mixture of two parallel projects going on with a common topic and goals, involving 8 international volunteers and 2 regional ones. The participants came from Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, Serbia and its region Autonomous Province of Vojvodina. YMCA Serbia's EVS volunteers from Slovakia gave an additional multicultural dimension to the group atmosphere. Led by camp leaders (one local and one from Germany) and camp organizer/coordinator, the camp included working hours, meals and leisure/free time activities. The topic of the camp was renovation and environmental issues and the main goal was to continue with renovation of the YMCA Youth Center as well as to clean and arrange the green surfaces surrounding it with the help of local volunteers. Work included gathering trash, planting, cleaning and arranging green surfaces (park, pond, garden), but also painting, making furniture from used materials or refurbishing old furniture. Renovation of YMCA Serbia's wooden cottage located on a local canal was included as well.

The spare time within the camp's program was reserved for promotion of cultural exchange among participants which was one of the main goals of the whole camp. The program was also filled out with educational activities. Another aspect of the project was to put sustainability into practice in daily life during the camp and raise awareness about environmental protection in the long-term perspective. During the camp there had been various workshops and presentations held (creative workshop, presentation about local history or a workshop on healthy ecological habits), intercultural party night called National day organized, game and youth work activities sharing, storytelling, sport afternoons, cookouts, music sharing etc. The participants enjoyed a competition game called Meet Petrovac where they were divided into two groups and competed for points in sightseeing the town and its important buildings. We organized recreational tours to waterpark in Ba?ki Petrovac and to the swimming pool in the nearby Backi Maglic as well as an excursion to the city of Novi Sad. On the last nights, a real camp-like atmosphere was created which included sleeping in tents around bonfire.

Now after the camp is over, we can say that in general this whole project was a great success. The most important thing is the result we've achieved - not just that we've done all the planned work, but also that we've gained valuable contacts and friendships that will hopefully last for a long time.

This way, the organizers want to thank all the volunteers - both international and local - also to their partners, supporters and friends who helped in any way and made this project possible. YMCA Serbia wants to send a message - "we're not doing this just for us, but for all of us and for the benefit of the whole society". It is important to mention the media support for the whole project in reports by both local and regional televisions as well as weekly newspapers.

This year the Ministry of Youth and Sport of the Republic of Serbia through the "Mladi su zakon" program has provided means for (co) funding of more than 40 volunteer camps in the Republic of Serbia, which allows the local volunteers to participate in the camps in their country for free. This work camp is one of them.

Foto album

Author/Source: Martin Širka - YMCA Serbia | Project Manager