Camp Leaders Prepare in Belgium

The project took place in:



Written by Shane Carolan

February 2016

I arrived at Wereldwerf with 3 others choosing unanimously to walk the last few miles to the site of the VIA Campleader training weekend. Arriving in good time we met and greeted some of the other people we would be sharing this weekend with. After a cup of tea we started off talking and discussing upcoming events for the weekend.

We began a group dynamics session and discussed different workcamp scenarios including intercultural learning topics. After that we all sat together to enjoy a heartwarming dinner. The food was prepared sustainably by voluntary chefs for the weekend. The location was a community centre in a very serene and peaceful setting with very little interruption from the modern world. There was an eco-cafe, wood workshop as well as a wool and felt workshop which added to the harmony and charm of the environment.

During the learning process and the training I found myself outside my comfort zone, which I slowly come to know as a place that should be embraced as this is where the growth happens. The group discussions and role playing were great ways in which to learn new aspects of self-assertiveness. I very much enjoyed the back and forth role playing and acting out different scenarios that might take place during a workcamp.

During the weekend we had some down time to explore the surrounding areas. It was the definition of peaceful and inspiring. A place nestled among quiet neighbours and a charming elderly home. I imagine if you needed a place to reconnect and become inspired this would be it. The farm animals and countryside brought me back to my childhood at my grandfather’s farm. The chickens were organically raised and looked proud and curious in what was going on as I cycled past on a go kart made by previous volunteers at the centre.

I learned quite a bit from many of the people who shared and talked about their experiences on previous workcamps. Those who were in many previous workcamps had a lot of experience to impart. Tactics and diplomatic methods were divulged in situations one would hope not to arise during a workcamp. But experience is the spice of life. My understanding greatly increased around the work involved in the organizing and leading of SCI’s short term voluntary projects. You really have to take to take on many roles and oversee a number of different things that will be happening. Even though it is quite a people oriented, down to earth role there is quite a bit of overall responsibility involved given the happenings or problems that may arise.

At night we all joined in to build a fire and played music and danced around it. I stared into the flames as it transfixed my gaze remembering something intuitive yet primordial while everything seemed in its right place. Many of us joked and sang more songs while talking about the changes happening in the world and things we hoped to see.

It was a great experience to share and exchange thoughts and energies. I learned that with experience we can learn what we initially thought was impossible to learn. It was an inspiring weekend and I was very happy VIA organized it. I had the opportunity to be around people who were in there comfort zone organizing and leading a workcamp. I took on new challenges I thought I would not be able to handle. For example when acting out the role of workcamp leader other people took on the roles of those attending. It was a spontaneous moment and I learned a lot about how to handle questions or difficult situations that might arise.

As the weekend came to an end, I thought of the rest of my EVS project, the summer and the workcamp that i will be helping with. I knew I had gained valuable experience and ideas from it that i will bring with me and share with others.

Article by EVS volunteer Shane Carolan, carrying out his EVS project at the International Secretariat of SCI (2016).