Damiano's Campleading Experience
Some days ago, checking my agenda and my google calendar, I realized that one the things that I will remember about my 2017 and my EVS year in general, will be my new (exaggerated) attitude to face to new experiences and challenges in an active way in compare of the previous years.
This is basically connected to one of the highlight of the last twelve months here in Czech Republic, my first international voluntary workcamp. For two weeks I took part in a group of 9 volunteers from Czech Republic, Spain, Germany, Ukraine, Poland, Taiwan and South Korea. The workcamp was called “Support local community in Hlasnice”. Hlasnice is a small village in Northen Moravia, around 150 inhabitants, one street and a very active community. The aim of this workcamp, which was held for the first time, was to help with revitalization of the area around community center, making the paths accessible and to contribute to mutual cultural exchange.
My two weeks project was focused on the renovation of common spaces, to revive places for relaxing and leisure activities – firstly, the community centre with playground and sports equipment and secondly, hiking and cycling paths in the surroundings of the village. Our “operative base” was kulturak, the cultural house with playground for kids, football field and tennis, rooms for conferences and events, where usually local community spends there free time. Our work was basically manual, so we for example renovated benches, seats and tables, cut and collected the grass, helped to prepare some spaces for winter rains and snow, but also cultural events with the community, like the party of summer end with kids that were going to come back to school one week later.
My campleading experience
Since I started my EVS in INEX, I started thinking about the possibility to participate in a workcamp, but after they asked me to do it as a campleader, I decided to accept this challenge, although I was sure that wouldn’t easy.
So, for me this project represented a double challenge, as I participated in the project as a campleader / groupleader, with the task of supporting the volunteers and acting as intermediary between them and the local partner of the municipality of Hlasnice, the main organizer of the project. But, what does it mean to be a campleader? Basically, it means to be the group responsible, but also to have different tasks like organizing turns for meals and other practical and operative tasks. As I said, Luckily, INEX provided us all training and support for this path. The highlight was the weekend preparatory training for campleaders, in May. Here we got all informations about general administration, management, communication, leadership and group management and problem solving. INEX supported us for 100%, but mainly gave us the consciouseness of the importance of the impact of our role. Basically I felt ready about the practical way, but I knew that I had to work on my leadership skills.
Group and motivation
After the initial initial doubts, I feel I was lucky enough, because we managed to create a very close-knit and motivated super group from the very first day, and I think this is the most important thing. But what are the "benefits" and motivation that leads volunteers to participate? Speaking with volunteers, each of them had a specific goal to participate in a workcamp: improve their language skills, discover new cultures and new people, make sense of their holidays or simply disconnect from office work and devote themselves to a some manual work to free your mind. :) As long as two weeks may seem long, they actually flew in a breath. I like to say that this was a great human experience, a continuous sharing moments, common goals, work with a precise meaning, but also lots of laughs and general fun, making the whole experience even more intense and shared. Being together and creating a team spirit is essential if you live together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The secret that I have learned in recent events is that it has been confirmed by the experience, it is always positive, keep the enthusiasm high and enjoy every moment, in an easy going way.
Yes, I know it's still early and I will not know what I'll be doing in a year, but I already have in mind the chance to participate in a workcamp on the other side of the world. I discovered that this way of "traveling" is very different from the usual: in fact you are in touch with the local people, interact with them, you understand their way of living, working, and the way of understanding the small aspects of life from a different perspective.