„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“

YMCA Europe Camping Group

A platform where European YMCA's working on camping programs can communicate on common topics, cooperate, share resources and knowledge

Background

The idea to form program group focused on camps came in 2012. It come as result of consultations between YMCA Europe and YMCA N.Macedonia, which resulted in expansion of the team with YMCA Kosovo and YMCA Greece and organizing the first pre-study visit in YMCA Greece in Thessaloniki. At the event was furtherly discussed the idea to point out the importance and need of such program group in YMCA Europe.

That event resulted by further expansion of the team by adding representatives from YMCAs from Denmark and The Netherlands. As a follow up was organized another meeting in Thessaloniki where was discussed the different approaches in camp management, best practices, and camp staff training modules. At the event as well were presented earlier ideas and practices to build European camp coalition (by Greece, Finland and Italy), known as Philia Camp.

From one side, we were able to see the diversity of approaches so we can compare and make conclusions. On the other side, we saw the possibility of learning and building a common system of basic standards and training modules that can serve as a guideline in this area to YMCAs running camps in Europe.

Later, on in the years 2015-2019, a total of 7 events were organized, involving a large number of other European YMCAs, raising the profile, the importance and the perspectives of this program group. This is a summary of those spaces created :

  • 2015, Training "Empowering Summer Camp Youth Leaders" (known as ESYL) in The Netherlands.
  • 2016, Training "Empowering Summer Camp Youth Leaders" (known as ESYL) #2 in The Netherlands.
  • 2016, Camp seminar "Towards Common Standard" in Portugal.
  • 2017, Camp seminar "Common Standards of Y-Camps - Management and Training" in Finland.
  • 2018, Training "Empowering Summer Camp Youth Leaders" (known as ESYL) #3 in The Netherlands.
  • 2019, "Training for Summer Camp Managers" in France.
  • 2019, "Global Camp Conference", YMCA of The Rockies, USA (attendees).
  • 2020, "Empowering Summer Camp Youth Leaders", Camp Leusden, The Netherlands.


Main reasons for the existence of this Program Group:

  • The camp program provides many possibilities for working with young people in the field of non-formal and outdoor experiential education which is one of the fields YMCA has experience; 
  • Camps are one of the YMCA flagship programs among the YMCAs worldwide;
  • Camps are part of the YMCA Europe long-term strategies focusing on a healthy lifestyle;
  • In Europe exists numerous YMCAs having camp programs not knowing each other.

The goals of the program group are:

  • To identify all existent YMCA campsites and camp programs in Europe;
  • Create a platform where European YMCA's working on camp programs can communicate on common topic and cooperate, share resources and knowledge;
  • Run events to discuss camp topics and build YMCA camps capacities;
  • Strives to create personal and professional development opportunities for camp professionals or camp volunteers, strengthening the foundation of the YMCA Camp movement by educating, connecting and motivating camp professionals and volunteers;
  • Work on building common basic standards for YMCA camps in order to increase the quality of YMCA camp programs;
  • Promote YMCA camps, camp culture and raise awareness of the benefits of camps and outdoors experiential education;Cooperate with camp organizations from Europe and beyond.

Communication:

Internal communication:

  • Meetings (in-person and via Skype)
  • Formal communication via email and
  • Non-formal consultation via Facebook chat.

External communication:

  • Hashtag: #YEcamps
  • YMCA Europe website
  • Facebook closed group
  • Program group reports

Reporting

  • The YE camps PG reports to the designated YMCA Europe support staff and the YMCA Europe Executive Committee.
  • The reports are on the YMCA Europe website and the YEcamps Facebook closed group.

The group has a volunteer board with experienced leaders in camp/program management, coming from several European YMCAs working in camp programs:

  • Joost Vlasblom (The Netherlands) - group leader. Email: joost@ymca.nl
  • Alina Pop (Romania). Email: alina.ymca@gmail.com
  • Francesco Zoffoli (Italy). Email: frazoffolimail@gmail.com
  • Joao Moura (Portugal). Email: joao.moura@ymcasetubal.org
  • Jami Lehtonen (Finland). Email: jami.lehtonen@ymca.fi 
  • Rafal Kusa (Poland). Email:rafal.kusa@ymca.pl
  • Viktor Iliev (Macedonia). Email: viktor@ymcabitola.org.mk
  • Rezi Shavladze (Georgia). Email: rezi@ymcaeurope.com
  • Tina Larionova (Russia). Email: tina@ymca.ru

Contact email: camps[at]ymcaeurope.com