Camp Europe: A summer of peace and healing for Ukrainian kids and young people.
Within YMCA Europe Roots for Peace framework, 16 YMCA projects across Europe will serve hundreds of beneficiaries during this summer, the majority of them being Ukrainian kids and young people – temporarily displaced from home or still living in their places of origin, despite all the hardships and devastation.
We originally planned to support 5-7 projects in the pilot year, but we are thrilled and inspired to have received more than double that number of applications. This is a vivid demonstration of the empathy and solidarity of the YMCA family in Europe towards the very crucial and noble cause of making the lives of children better and keeping the spark of hope and faith in humanity alive.
We know that supporting more projects will be extra work for the Roots staff, but we are committed to it. We believe that this is an important cause, and we are grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children across Europe.
At the “Family camp” in Verkhovyna, Ukraine, participants engaged in thoughtfully designed programs offering a variety of activities, such as crafting toys, creating beautiful mosaics, and a diversity of other exercises fostering creativity, teamwork, and hands-on learning.
A week-long camp “Paradise in the Carpathians” by YMCA Karpaty (Ukraine) has took place. During the camp, participants had an opportunity to engage in a variety of sports activities, creative workshops, and invigorating excursions.
The evenings have been packed with activities that promote bonding and relaxation. Throughout this entire experience, the safety and well-being of the participants have been diligently prioritized, creating an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity for those who greatly needed it.
The Volyn YMCA in Lutsk, Ukraine team successfully implemented the “You Are Not Alone” camp. From creative arts and crafts to thrilling sports and insightful sessions with psychologists, the activities have been truly enchanting.
With the unwavering support of the YMCA Volyn team, the children have formed new friendships, expanded their social circles, and developed the ability to connect with others based on essential Christian values such as love, responsibility, honesty, and kindness.
YMCA Kropyvnytskyi (Ukraine) team implemented the Peace Camp, which offered a unique riverside recreational experience, featuring activities such as yoga, outdoor games, volleyball, swimming, and even dinners by the riverbank – truly wonderful conditions for spending hot August days and creating a peaceful atmosphere for those who need it.
Another remarkable camp, Side-by-side, orchestrated by YMCA Poltava. Young participants have experienced numerous incredible moments. Every single day, they explore the realm of new adventures, absorb fresh knowledge, share their stories, and form new friendships.
From engaging workshops to athletic accomplishments, from unforgettable discos to inspiring creative sessions – the YMCA Poltava team ensured to infuse each day with curiosity and the thrill of exploration.
A fresh week leads to new journeys. The International HarmonY Camp 2.0, organized by YMCA Romania as part of the Camp Europe initiative, assembles a diverse group of campers.
Young people from YMCA Romania (Romanians and Ukrainians), YMCA Ukraine, YMCA Moldova, and YMCA Camp Duncan USA are set to embark on a week filled with new experiences, education, and meaningful exchanges. Our heartfelt wishes accompany the team as they set forth on this journey.
YMCA Plzeň-Starý Plzenec, Czech Republic, has once again achieved success with their recent Art Camp, “In the Footsteps of Animals.” This camp is just one of the many wonderful programs that the YMCA Czech Republic team is organizing for Ukrainian children, within the framework of the Camp Europe pilot initiative.
During “The Wild West Camp” organised by YMCA Czech Republic, children were involved in a wide range of sports activities, expanded their vocabulary, crafted jewellery and shirts, gained knowledge about Indigenous traditions and practised their languages.
Additionally, they had an incredible experience in a genuine Indigenous teepee near Mariánské Lázně, where they acquired survival techniques without relying on modern technology. Is not this truly marvelous?!
Once again, YMCA Czech Republic has amazed us with an extraordinary camp! At “The Olympic Games Camp” kids created their very own fictional nations to champion in the Olympics. Despite the rainy weather, a plethora of activities awaited the little ones, offering them an abundance of joy while nurturing their Body, Mind, and Spirit.
Hats off to YMCA Czech Republic for fostering such a holistic and engaging experience for the young ones!
Within the Art Camp’s framework, youngsters engage in a multitude of imaginative activities designed to nurture their creative aptitude. Beyond hands-on activities, the participants were treated to folk tales that enriched their cultural understanding, while the melodic strains of an accordion added a delightful experience to their days at the camp.
During the Nature Camp – Journey to the Real Treasure, in addition to fostering essential outdoor skills, the young adventurers embarked on an unforgettable journey into nature. Activities included canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding on the Otava River, leisurely walks by the waterfall, and even fishing.
Following each eventful day, the evenings were enriched by a campfire and the harmonious melodies of the music.
With Artsakh being subjected to a complete blockade since December 12th, 2022, the youth participating in the camp have sought solace from the hardships they face on a daily basis, such as enduring long queues for bread and coping with the lack of electricity. In the picturesque village of Patara, the young people try to find joy and respite, allowing themselves to simply be carefree “young people” for a week.
Camp YMCA Liptovský Mikuláš (Slovakia) offered excursions to “Shtrebské Plesso”, “Slovakian Paradise”, a day at the water park “Tatralandia”, rafting, Ice Cave, climbing to the top of the Mount “Baranets” and of course, a bonfire on the last evening of the camp. All those things provided bright emotions and left incredible memories for the children.
As the summer comes to an end, the joy, friendships, and new hope created at Camp Europe camps will stay with Ukrainian children and youth.
The YMCA is dedicated to keeping this positivity alive, nurturing the impact of this summer’s projects into the future. Together, we’re lighting up a symbol of strength, showing that compassion and working together can bring lasting positive change to our European community.