CAMPING THE BEST, FORGET THE REST

YOUTH EXCHANGE IN RUSTAVI AND PHONA (12-22 JULY 2014)

995068_753078004757179_834489491026049696_nAn international youth exchange “Camping the Best, Forget the Rest” within the frame of “Youth in Action” (YiA) was organised by Georgian Youth for Europe and took place in Rustavi and in Phona village, Georgia. The youth exchange involved 42 participants from seven participant countries: Azerbaijan (“Yaddash” Enlightener Youth Social Union) , Estonia (NGO Headeast), Georgia (Georgian Youth for Europe), Germany (Christliches Jugenddorfwerk Deutschlands e.V.), Latvia (Vecpiebalga Youth Center “Balgas Strops”), Poland (Stowarzyszenie DAKATO) and Ukraine (NGO “Ukrainian Youth Center”).

The arrival day of the participants in Rustavi was used for getting to know each other through numerous ice-breaking games that were followed by the intercultural evening, rich in songs, dances and country-specific cuisine from all seven participant countries. The coming days where spent in the camping place next to Phona in Kakheti region. The main stress of the exchange was to raise awareness of physical outdoor activities – sports, hiking and orientation games – as well as to experience living outdoors in environmentally-friendly, relaxed and summery hot surrounding.

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One of the days was dedicated to national sports. First of all, the participants presented their national sports, physical activities that are most popular in their daily life, and the most famous sportsmen and sportswomen. Later on, it was time not only to listen but also to get involved actively in the international world of sports. And so, the participants got to know very entertaining games like women-carrying from Estonia to check how fast men can run with women on their shoulders; wall-to-wall from Ukraine to test which “wall” is stronger; dodge ball that apparently is known in almost all European countries or the “blind chicken” from Azerbaijan. The next day was spent with organizing and playing Olympic games of the camp and the volleyball championship. To be clear, the Olympic games were not what exactly what people normally understand under Olympic games: After brainstorming, the participants developed activities like races while jumping in bags, various games with eggs etc.

The upcoming days were filled with nice surprises. For example, the refreshing Lagodekhi waterfall that was reached after a quite tiring hiking tour through the amazing national park, a night orientation game nearby the camping site and, of course, the hike to Sameba church in Kazbegi. The participants also attended the activity that gave them the possibility to develop their navigation skills. Furthermore, they learnt to measure the distance with simple methods and had the task to draw a map of the camp surroundings by themselves using the knowledge from the previous activity. The highlight and at the same time the last activity during the camp was organizing the Community day, where the participants used the toolbox with activities and games that was developed during the first days of the camp.the most famous sportsmen and sportswomen. Later on, it was time not only to listen but also to get involved actively in the international world of sports. And so, the participants got to know very entertaining games like women-carrying from Estonia to check how fast men can run with women on their shoulders; wall-to-wall from Ukraine to test which “wall” is stronger; dodge ball that apparently is known in almost all European countries or the “blind chicken” from Azerbaijan. The next day was spent with organizing and playing Olympic games of the camp and the volleyball championship. To be clear, the Olympic games were not what exactly what people normally understand under Olympic games: After brainstorming, the participants developed activities like races while jumping in bags, various games with eggs etc.

All in all, the youth exchange was an opportunity to gain insight into different approaches to outdoor activities, to reflect on one’s own attitude towards sports and living outdoors and to improve some survival skills – and this while being permanently surrounded by songs in different languages which probably more than anything else gave the youth exchange this not repeatable intercultural and at the same time connecting feeling.

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