Tagasiside või küsimus

Story of the camp

The idea to organize a camp arose in March 2021 when travel was quite limited, and the situation in many parts of Europe was still serious. However, cautiously organized festivals and camps took place in Estonia during the summer of 2020. We discussed that a local event aimed at youth would be appropriate, and hopefully, events could also take place in the summer of 2021. Previously, we had organized Erasmus+ events with an international audience through interEST, but now we aimed to offer an educational program for children, bringing our experience from Erasmus+ workshops and youth exchanges.

We shared the idea with friends and acquaintances and found the first potential counselors who were willing to participate. Only two out of six team members had a camp counselor certificate, so we also had to deal with applying for certifications. A lot of effort went into discussing the overall concept, making the camp schedule and rules. For example, we debated whether to allow phones or not, or only at certain times, even though we hadn't even shared information with the public, hadn't received camp counselor certifications yet, and had a total of zero registered children for the camp. One team member, who had previously been a counselor at a camp, said there must be a director and be strict. But we were used to operating without strict rules, and young people in the Erasmus+ program are responsible for their own lives and activities, so maybe we can do without being strict? We had two more young people in the group who had only been to camps their entire teenage years, and they had many ideas - this at least gave us a little more confidence. There was confusion, and it was far from clear what would come out of all this.

It must be admitted that even when the team is in place, accommodation is booked, activities are planned, the bigger challenge may be reaching people with information. Our marketing experience collectively was more like folk wisdom, and unfortunately, we were not visible enough in April and May, and we had to inform the parents of the 11 registered children that, sorry, but the camp is canceled. The pandemic played a role, and as newcomers whom no one knows, gradually appearing on the scene. Still, we are extremely grateful to those who trusted us. We also sent them a list of possible alternative camps and refunded the deposit.

The following year, we aimed for a slightly smaller and more realistic group, and there were fewer counselors - some were traveling, and others had other challenges. This time, we planned to invest more in marketing. The effort in the spring of 2021 paid off. We got 30 registrants, although a couple got sick, the camp was happening! Totally unbelievable! It is said that first experiences in life are well remembered, and this also applied to this camp. Our team of 3 counselors clicked, it was interesting for us, the children had fun, and the feedback was very good.

The feeling when parents come to pick up their children and some children say they want to come next year too gives back the mental energy that you have invested for months before the camp, instantly, and gives strength to continue in the future.

In 2023, there were more of us, 5 counselors and 40 children. This time, it was felt that the increase in the team and the number of children created their own challenges in terms of communication among counselors over a large territory and, for example, in terms of the age dynamics of the children. The solution was walkie-talkies and dividing into 2 age groups. In addition, there were several other discussions and solutions that we will start implementing. We are still on a journey where we try to optimize processes, distribute responsibilities better, and plan organizationally even better.

We have formulated an internal goal for the team for the camp in 2024, and here is a small part of it: "Participants developed synergy among themselves, and the counselors also had a strong sense of cooperation, which made the children feel safe, at home, and confident. The counselors complemented each other, learned a lot from each other, from the children, and together reached each child, and there was a constant overview of who, where, what they were doing."

Thank you for reading!