Be the change! – CIDSE
© Selina De Blander

Be the change!

© Selina De Blander

The power of networking and co-creation.

In July 2018 Broederlijk Delen organized for the 30th time a summer camp for young people and families, supported by 40 volunteers. For the first time in the history of the camp an international delegation of 30 people joined the camp. It was a fabulous experience of exchanging ideas, following workshops together and dreaming of a worldwide climate proof society.

From the start in 1988, the aim of our summer camp is to connect young people who are interested in topics of development cooperation, climate change, sustainable lifestyle and other cultures. A big variation of workshops and lectures are always the red line in our program, spiced up with music, fun and time for building up friendships. From the beginning on we have only served organic, vegetarian and fair trade food. We were ahead of our times.

Within this 30 year of organizing a sustainable summer camp we can see some evolutions: 30 years ago we gave much more attention to getting to know countries and cultures compared to now. Nowadays the world is in your pocket, and discovering the world became much easier by travelling and through social media. The attention to topics such as sustainable lifestyle was introduced in recent years thanks to the paradigm shift in development thinking. Change must come from all people in the world, not only from economics or politics.

This year we worked on the topic of ‘let’s be the change’, citizens as engine for change in our society. We approached this topic in very diverse ways. We opened the camp with the keynote speech made by a member of the the Transition Movement in Belgium. We visited various small transition initiatives in Flanders. We had practical workshops in making bee houses, cooking with leftovers, … There were lectures on decolonization, gender, climate action, … And we concluded the camp with a philosophical approach on hope, hope as the basis for change.

This was my 6th summer camp, the 5th as main coordinator. I especially like the spirit and engagement of the more than 40 volunteers before, during and after the camp. The drive they show year by year to create a fabulous experience for all the participants gives me so much energy! Our summer camp wouldn’t exist without all their work and commitment. Just after Christmas we start brainstorming about the topic and the program of the camp for the following summer. And month by month all the preparations are geared towards a wonderful summer camp, in which we host about 200 to 220 people including children, young people and adults. You read it right: this is an intergenerational camp. We host families with young children, youth leaders who take care of the children’s’ programme while adults enjoy the workshops … From 0 tot 99 years, everybody is welcome to this camp. This intergenerational approach gives an extra dimension to the atmosphere on the camp.

As the volunteers’ coordinator of Broederlijk Delen, I am proud of this whole process of co-creation and volunteers’ participation. My role is just about being the glue between them. Our camp couldn’t exist without their involvement. This is the spirit of change for me: the step from ‘being inspired’ towards ‘getting involved’. And this is the spirit we try to project towards our participants.

Frequently I meet people who attended the camp many years ago. They tell me that they are still inspired by the atmosphere and the dynamics of the camp. Most of them build up their lives with respect for other people and consciousness for our planet. They are connected as a volunteer in local initiatives of change or they work in social justice organizations. On the other side, the camp is also a meeting point for people with the same ideas or dreams for our world. Feeling that you are part of a bigger community gives you power to keep up your own beliefs and motivation. In this, CIDSE, is an added value for Broederlijk Delen. By creating a world-wide network of volunteers, people experience that there is a global movement of change-makers.

“Be the change. Live the change! Spread the change!”. This is the credo of the last camp edition. A beautiful thought to conclude this blog. Hope to see you all next year in Flanders!

Terri Grootjans

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