And we're off!
YFoEE Summer Camp #7 has started! We are in a hostel in a beautiful forest in the north of the Netherlands. We have already had sessions to introduce Young Friends of the Earth Europe and Young Friends of the Earth Africa. We have heard stories from participants from Armenia, Russia, South Africa, Mozambique and elsewhere. We have discussed our hopes, our expectations, laid out our rules for the camp and our space. We have played lots of games, tried desperately to learn over 50 names and made lots of new friends.
We spoke to some participants about their journey to the camp and why they came:
Dunja from Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Volunteer in Centar Za Životnu Sredinu
This is my first summer camp, but not only that, it was first time travelling on my own, my first time on a train and the first time I have ever been this far away from home.
Initially there were two of us from Bosnia and Hercegovina but in the end the other person was unable to come anymore so I had travel alone. It was so scary for me. There were so many trains, many long transfers and such a long way to travel.
A lot of people in my country are scared of trains because they feel less safe. Long journeys feel more complicated than getting a flight where you just go from one place to the next and it is often very simple and easy.
But I love ecology; I study ecology and want to do a Masters degree in it. So for me coming to the YFoEE summer camp is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I wanted to gain experiences, meet people and learn about the movement so I can share with people my country. At home I always talk about ecology and I always want to encourage people to be more eco-friendly. For me nature is where everything starts. When I was 5, I started volunteering in an organisation to protect rivers. I really love fish and this is what I focused on in college.
For this trip, I started with a train from Zagreb at 7am and I got to the camp at 10am the next day! I had to get 4 trains and 2 buses as well as spending many hours waiting in stations during transfers. Many times the platform I had to find was on the other side of the station and often I didn't understand the language of the signs. There were never any elevators so I had to carry my luggage up so many stairs!
However, it was a beautiful experience. The journey helped me improve myself and increase my self-confidence. The trains were amazing – there were so many things to see, cities and people I met. In future I will always travel by train! I want to share this experience with everyone at home. It is an amazing experience to travel somewhere so far away alone.
Summer camp is my first event with YFoEE, but I plan to sign up for others and be part of things like this in the future. I want to share this with people in my country and encourage them to get involved. People in my country care about ecology, but their voices aren't heard and part of that is because many people don't want to travel.
It is important for everyone that if you love something, you must follow their dreams. I can't let other things like travel stop me!
Ingrida from Lithuania
My trip started just as most of my travels do. From a small village in the middle of nowhere I got on a train to get to the capital city. With my thoughts lost in the summer camp already, I forgot about the festival happening near by – that led to the train being more than full and me getting to know people VERY closely.
Got to the capital (Vilnius, not Riga...) and started running for my bus. I just had to catch it, my last chance to get to my sisters place a bit earlier and take a nap. Oh, here I should probably mention that my flight was the next morning, but from yet another city. So, back to me running, my music suddenly stopped. Wait, what? I turn around and see my phone sliding down the road, the screen was facing the ground. Perfect. Grabbed my phone, managed to get on the bus and went to the flat. No time to cry for the phone, so I just had candy and coffee instead.
Having only 3 hours to sleep, but not managing to do that, and feeling wide awake I wished I chose crying. At 3:30am my taxi arrived. I got down and was greeted by an elderly driver with a bag of candies. Little did I know that 20 minutes of war-talk was waiting for me.
After all the history lessons I was ready for my bus. Got out, got on the plane, landed in Amsterdam. I did it. Well, almost there. I knew I had to take the train- one option being direct train, the other- with a transfer. Bought my ticket, and started running for it. "You have to go to Zwolle and transfer there", the information officer said. Of course. The next 1,5 hours I was checking the time like a crazy person, to be sure not to miss Zwolle. I mean they were announcing the names, but does anyone ever understands ANYTHING on the train? "The next stop is tfyfhjbkuehiuwe". I didn't trust that. Made my transfer safely- "is this train going to Assen?" – I was asked as I was getting on it. My answer was "I hope so", I guess I was lucky.
After the train, my last bits of the trip were two bus rides. I got on the first one and a girl sat in front of me – "Are you going to the summer camp too?" After a while more people came, we started talking, singing, getting to know each other. No more need for sleep, no more thoughts about my phone or worries about the transport. That's when I knew this is a start of an amazing week!