IYC 2009 Latvia – by Ayesha Keller

I’m not sure quite how to give the International Youth Camp justice as it was really something very special. The location was idyllic, the theme interesting and the structure brilliant, but what I believe made this camp so special was the people.
It was organised entirely by young volunteers between the ages of 18-25 who were previous participants. The energy and commitment they put into it is phenomenal. The participants come from all different backgrounds and this diversity as well as everyone’s good will made it what it was. The age group is between 16 – 25 and everyone contributes to the camp through their personality and experience.
Youth in the media don’t always get portrayed in the best of lights but after meeting this camp full of love, energy, ideals, creativity and positivity I feel that the future is in safe hands.

This year the International Youth Camp took place in Latviafrom the 3rd – 17th August. Our theme this year was Leadership with the subheading of “Follow me, I am right behind you” This was the basis of our discussions and workshops and gave us all a lot to think about.
Our Campsite was in a big field belonging to the Camphill Rožkalni near Valmiera in the Latvian countryside. It was a beautiful location with a little lake where we could swim. In the evenings the mists would roll in and surround our tents which, in the setting sun under the full moon, was quite magical.
It was also the perfect place from which to set off for our 4 day hike. On the hike we split into 7 groups and spent the night camping in an abandoned house, a hay barn belonging to a local farmer or on mattresses on the floor found by a friendly woman. The second and third night we all met up at a big campsite by Lake Burtnieku where we all shared stories, sang songs, played games and went swimming.
During the camp we were divided into groups: Drama, Art, Photography, Sport, Juggling, Building and Cooking the last group provided delicious fresh food for us 3 times a day. Many of the ingredients were provided by the Camphill from their Biodynamic farm.
Singing was an integral part of our day. We had an hour in the morning and in the evening. We also sang during the workshops, close of day, at the campfire as well as being woken up bright and early by the upbeat songs of the staff members.
We did a lot of team sports and games and we had an open stage where people could show their artistic and especially comic talent. Through these activities we got to know each other and a strong bond was formed. By the end of the fortnight I truly felt I had gained 70 new friends.
In the evenings we had a close of day held by Malcolm Allsop our IYC Priest, during which we sang a few songs and sat in silence letting the day sink in. Before heading to bed we all drank cocoa around the campfire while singing songs, chatting or just staring into the campfire giving each other massages.
On Sundays we had the Act of Consecration of Man which we all attended. On Thursdays it was also held in the morning but attendance was on a voluntary basis. The Camp staff members and participants had the opportunity to serve.
At the end of the Camp we held a concert for the Camphill and the local people. It was very well attended in such a rural setting and it was a joy to share our work with them. We also held a mini art exhibition and the cooking group provided them with refreshments.
To finish off the Camp all the groups presented their work. Individuals put on their last performances on the open stage and the Drama group presented their play.
After helping to pack up the campsite and writing messages in each other’s songbooks, we all jumped on to the back of the trailer, waved our goodbyes and journeyed back to all the different parts of the world we’d come from.
There are rumours that the Camp will be held inRomaniaorItalynext year. If you’d like to join or want to find out more about the IYCamps; all the information can be found under www.iycamp.com.