IYC 2017 Bosnia and Herzegovina – by Dorothee Nys

IYC Bosnia, spending two weeks in the heat with incredibly awesome people. Is that about it? In a way: yes. In another way: not even close! Let me try to give you an insight in these fourteen amazing days.

Having been to quite some children- and youth camps from the Christian Community, it didn’t feel like jumping into the big unknown. On the other hand, it was a very new community with people I didn’t know. So yes, a bit scary and exciting. From the first moment I was struck by the warm, welcoming energy from the staff. That feeling of safety only grew with the days passing by, created by both staff and participants.

We landed in a field surrounded by mountains and a lake right next to us. I was stunned that the staff only needed this field – all the rest was brought or built, such as kitchen, toilet, big tent, benches. But before really settling in, we split up in small groups and went on a hike. And the heat? It didn’t stop anyone from pulling through. I appreciated the energy of our hiking group: fast in walking and easy in resting. An image that will stay with me forever: us sitting on the top of a mountain, surrounded by other high peaks and being able to look kilometres far in each direction. And of course a sunset to top it of!

After a chill day (for me and many others) next to a clear and ice cold river, we hiked back all together. And already, a sense of coming home when we arrived at our main campsite.

From that moment on, time is a bit blurry. I got into this amazing daily rhythm of breakfast – singing – workshop – lunch – siësta – games/alternative workshop – supper – evening programme. It was so easy to follow and just go from one part to the next. My phone and watch were no longer of big importance. It allowed me to be so much more in the moment and enjoying that to the fullest! Like doing synchronised swimming in the lake. Crazy moments in the kitchen. Watching ‘Black Cat, White Cat’ in the big tent, all cozy together. Singing! Sitting in the big circle, with delicious food. Some unforgettable theme evenings. Campfires. Eye-opening conversations. Hidden talents uncovering at open stage. Real-life soap about twins. Taking extra care of a ‘secret friend’.

It was a time for me to connect more deeply to myself. Slow down, take care, listen, reflect, enjoy. And a time to connect to wonderful others! Talk, sing, dance, laugh, hug. Those others coming from all around the world. Only that already opened my eyes.

One other aspect of IYC that I absolutely love, are the age differences. Or should I say the absence of it? Age gaps between staff and participants are much smaller, sometimes overlapping. I remember a conversation one of the first days with a staff member, when I was still so surprised by this. She put it easy and clearly: the staff organises and everyone is there to enjoy. I like the freedom and taking your own responsibility that comes with that. Many times I felt inspired by the staff, through one-on-one conversations, through stories at theme evenings. And ‘just’ them together as a group.

I absolutely loved it; and I knew, this was only the beginning of a new journey.