Between August 26th and 29th, in Lipno, Poland, a Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Training Camp took place with a total of 46 participants.
Among them were 39 children hailing from Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine, some of whom were from refugees families. The event was organized by YMCA Europe Mission in Poland, with collaboration from sports clubs MONSTERS from Warsaw, CZARNY ORZEŁ from Lipno, and YMCA Lithuania.
For the Polish and Ukrainian children in Poland, this camp was a familiar experience, resembling previous ones they had attended.
The Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Training Camp program featured a variety of indoor and outdoor sports, games, team-building exercises (including elements of rugby for team cohesion), language activities with an emphasis on enjoyable English learning, exploration of the participating countries, and an excursion to Wloclawek (located 23 km from Lipno) to see the largest dam on the Vistula River.
Special attention was given to the mental well-being of the children, aligning with the YMCA’s holistic approach of body, mind, and spirit.
Furthermore, this camp served as a training ground for leaders who had previously worked with refugees and were preparing to continue their work within the national YMCA structures while collaborating with other YMCA National Movements (NMs) on shared program initiatives.
In the context of Poland, human resource development was identified as a pivotal step toward the formal establishment of a YMCA organization in the country.
For YMCA Lithuania, this training camp represented an opportunity to enhance their program capabilities, particularly in running sports activities for diverse groups of children. Additionally, it marked an important milestone in establishing common governance standards for organizational work among all partners.
The Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Training Camp training’s foundation was rooted in practical experience, making it crucial for leaders and children to be present simultaneously in the same location. The camp’s methodology was based on YMCA models, incorporating policies and educational materials from the YMCA Europe library into the leaders’ manual.
This approach aimed to facilitate the rejuvenation of the national YMCA movement in Poland and to reinforce the Lithuanian movement by introducing high standards for their work with children, especially as the school year commenced and children needed encouragement to participate in YMCA after-school activities within diverse groups.
In May 2023, groups from Warsaw and Lipno successfully organized their first joint camp event in Lipno. Buoyed by the success of this pilot project, these two groups continued their collaboration, within YMCA Europe Roots for Peace “Camp Europe Initiative” event in Olsztyn in July serving as another significant milestone. Presently, there is a group in Anykščiai, Lithuania, with a profile similar to that of the Polish partners. All indications suggest that they are on the right path and should proceed with their efforts.
This camp was co-financed by YMCA Europe.