A camp-based programme for 17-18 year olds, lasting 21 days
The first Seminar Camp was held in 1959
This personally challenging, intensive programme is coordinated by the young participants themselves. They develop their own agenda and explore global issues based on their backgrounds and interests, through activities and in-depth discussions.
Seminar Camps are for 30 international participants, with the supervision and assistance of international adult staff.
Joining a Seminar Camp puts you in the driving-seat, as with your fellow participants you plan and lead the programme. Being part of Seminar Camp’s group-living environment encourages you to take a creative and cooperative approach to problem-solving and resolving differences that can arise from healthy discussion. Friendship and fun ensure that your Seminar Camp experience is lasting and positive.
Through the International People's Project (IPP), I had the opportunity to hear a voice that is otherwise rarely heard. Those of homeless people. We were a group of 27 participants, from 13 different countries, who were able to experience this special experience in Leeds, England at a two-week camp thanks to our partner organisation St Anne's Community Services. We learned about the build-up of this initiative and the people behind the projects. Our main task was mainly to help clients eat with them, have conversations and get to know them. This experience taught us that you can end up on the street for various reasons, often structurally conditioned. Being homeless is rarely a decision. These people have lost all hope to a functioning civilian system. One man, 30, homeless and alcoholic, says to us: "Don't condemn and you won't be convicted, there are always reasons." Listening to these people, talking to them, getting to know them, not judging them, was the most valuable experience we have had to experience in this project. We have realized that listening is the first important step. Often decisions are made for these people and (pre-) judgments about them without being given the opportunity to share their opinions. Often we heard that anyone can become homeless. During our time at this partner organization, we met homeless people from very different backgrounds. With this IPP, we were able to make a small change in this local community with little time, and we ourselves learned a large amount during these two weeks.
For me, my village in Rome was a great first experience with CISV. There, for the first time, I dealt with issues such as poverty, racism, world peace in a playful way. That was exhausting but instructive. And from the PreCamp I already knew a bit of what to expect. In between were a lot of games, and a lot of sports. In the process, I made a lot of new friends. It took us a bit before we could all communicate, but then it worked out well and it was really fun. My host families were really cool and showed me quite a bit. That gave me an impression of the country. I am still in contact with many kids who were at my camp and a JC. It was a great experience. I like to remember it back. Since then I have been to two youth meetings and had an interchange. And on New Year's Eve I drive away with CISV again. Hopefully I'll meet someone from my village again one day.
When my eldest, at 11, said he would like to go abroad for an international camp for four weeks, I thought that was a good idea. I hoped contact with peers from other cultures would broaden his horizons, bringing him both social and language proficiency.
Then when he came back I was surprised how very much he had evolved in both ways. He suddenly had friends all over the world, some of whom he still has contact with to this day, but he had also developed an enormous understanding of foreign languages. At CISV Camps, children learn how cohabitation works, even if not all are the same, and how to deal with being different.
This camp had another outcome: Two months later, the then almost twelve-year-old flew alone to Sweden and fulfilled his only birthday wish: To be able to visit his Swedish friends for a few days. These experiences are for him to this day "highlights" of his childhood and youth.
Meanwhile, all my children are CISV kids, we've had a lot of experiences, including as a host family and interchange family. And I still find it an important contribution to their social and emotional upbringing to enable my children to have CISV experiences.
I had my first CISV experience nineteen years ago. At the time, I was eleven, and was a rather cautious and introverted child. After four weeks I came home quite dirty, rich in experiences and knowledge and with a bunch of new friends. I continued to be rather cautious, but in these 4 weeks I not only learned that different languages and cultures do not have to be obstacles, but that it was also completely okay.
In the summer of 2014, I experienced my sixth CISV camp. I was allowed to accompany four great, eleven-year-old children as they made friends, became more open, more interested, more confident; How they began to ask questions and perceive injustices, how they consciously grappled with their own origins and learned to think globally, how they behaved in solidarity and empathy and helped to ensure that these 4 weeks for all unforgettable experience.
Of all my CISV experiences, I probably appreciate my last two when I was allowed to be a leader at Villages the most: Because I witnessed a well-functioning and harmonious Leaders Group (which consisted of very different personalities!), a safe and loving environment, within which quiet children suddenly shared opinions, anxious children could forget their homesickness, and self-assured children acted as links of the group.
Because It's All About The Children.