2009 camp blog

Day 1

Appreciating differences and building our teams

Day 1 at YMCA Lakeside got off to a lively start even though some of the participants had got up at 3am to catch the coach! Everyone felt very positive and excited about the week ahead.

After getting settled in and having a bite to eat, the group were given the results of the psychometric tests that they completed before the camp. The tests involved the campers looking at both inward and outward diversity and gave them the task of assessing different leadership situations.

The results showed how different personalities approach different situations and how having different characters in a team can make it stronger. For many of the participants, it also gave them an insight into the many ways we can interact with each other.

The group was then organised into teams and set off on a series of challenging team-building exercises. And, after just six hours on site, the teams were already demonstrating good teamwork, especially during the task to build a human suspension bridge.

Some of the participants from last year are attending this year as Peer Leaders and this has also helped to encourage inter-team leadership and teamwork. When drafting a team contract/constitution, suggestions such as 'letting everyone have their say' and 'encouraging others' were echoed throughout the room.

As Day 1 drew to a close, the energy and excitement in the camp was still apparent with everyone looking forward to today's events, as 15 year old Zoe Walder from Nottingham commented: 'This is the first day - it's only just the beginning... it's going to be really amazing.'

Day 2

Check out pictures from the camp on our Flickr photostream.

Day 2 saw the group wake up to their first full day of activities. Attendees joined their groups to face a variety of challenges from tree swings and orienteering to roping and climbing exercises. 'Fair play' was the common theme of the morning.

After lunch, activities included rafting, survival/first aid skills and workshops on 'Understanding Diversity'. The first two sessions showed that when everyone pulls together in the same direction, tasks can be completed easily. The workshop encouraged the groups to think about diversity and how damaging prejudice can be. They did this through mapping out their thoughts and through quizzes. The response from the group was very positive and with comments such as ‘It’s giving us more of an understanding of other cultures so that we can live together', it really felt that the groups were exploring every avenue of diversity.

After the evening meal, youth workers,Tom Robbins and James Mummery, gave the camp an overview of campaigns, why they are important, and how to get involved.

It was really encouraging for the groups to see that it was possible to make a difference and the practical advice provided was beneficial to all. By the end of the evening, the group were already generating their own campaign ideas and feeling inspired to get involved with social and community projects. A number of people have already asked to come back next year as Peer Leaders.

Day 3

Check out pictures from the camp on our Flickr photostream.

Summer camp in full swing

High-ropes, low-ropes, more first-aid and survival skills, and a challenge known as the 'King Swing' kept everyone busy and with challenges such as one that involves four members of a group simultaneously balancing on a board the size of an open newspaper, ten metres up a wooden pole, it can only help bring the teams together!

The teams were encouraged to think about the wider concept of 'triage', where prioritisation and playing to individual strengths can really help resolve a situation.

After lunch, teams continued with co-operative tasks and in the evening, the session focused on 'Creativity and Innovation' and gave the groups the chance to look at their final day team presentations. Samiya Rashid and Saba Zaman from the Muslim Youth Helpline came along to give a brief presentation about issues covered by their helpline campaigns and how they've actively engaged with young people across Britain.  It was really inspiring to hear how the Muslim Youth Helpline engages with their audiences and tackle wider issues without forgetting those who are seeking their help. 

Following on from this, artist Matt Fraser gave a very engaging, entertaining, and striking presentation on breaking down stereotypes and being true to you. The group then discussed their ideas for the final day presentations with support and advice from the visitors.

It was great to see how the teams have bonded and developed in such a short space of time and we hope Our Space will have a lasting impact on everyone.

Day 4

More outdoor activities, leadership skills and the night hike

At breakfast, the group were buzzing with enthusiasm at breakfast where they discussed what they have done, what they have learnt, how they plan to stay in contact and who's planning to sign up as a Peer Leader next year.

The morning sessions saw the group take part in various outdoor and water-based activities, supported by good weather and better company!

The focus continued on improving leadership and teamwork skills, with the groups learning more about the differences in people's talents, the diverse nature of characters, and how these can be used to better enhance team challenges. The 'Understanding Diversity' courses continued to highlight the past and present areas of discrimination in society, as well as how diversity is a cause for celebration.

For the penultimate night, the Our Space team organised a night hike across the hills of the Lake District, ending with a camp bonfire and firework display. The views across Windermere, and the spectacular surroundings, left many of the group in awe. On the trek there and back, the campers discussed what they planned to do when they get home.

"It’s a really good way to make friends with all types of people. I’ve learnt about things I never thought I would learn about and got the chance to do things I never thought I would be able to do. It’s been really inspirational."

Sophie Lang, Inverclyde, Scotland.

Day 5

Check out pictures on our Flickr photostream.

The final quest, presentations, awards and final goodbyes!

The final day saw the teams wake up to glorious sunshine, the perfect setting for Team Quest, which saw the teams race to get clues and solve puzzles in a quest to find hidden treasure.

Blindfolded assault courses, various raft-based adventures (with a few capsizes along the way!), quizzes and mind puzzles were all conquered by the Our Space Teams with everyone sharing in the prize goodies.

Afterwards,everyone packed up and then spent some time in the dinner hall signing each other’s shirts, swapping addresses and enjoying their final meal at Our Space 2009.

It was then time for the Presentation and Awards ceremony where Bradley Brady, a senior director from the Commission, gave warm thanks to all who attended, acknowledging the hard work put in by the event organisers, facilitators, Peer Leaders... and most importantly the campers themselves!

Each team then gave a short presentation about what the last week had taught them, with some brilliant (as well as inspiring) contributions! The groups talked about the negative impacts of stereotyping and passing judgements, and how discrimination really does restrict and damage society. Celebrating the diverse nature of society, people, cultures and appearances was a common theme throughout the presentations and one which each group highlighted as a way of achieving a fairer society for all.

And as the final coach pulled away, we are already looking forward to hearing how everyone gets on back home and to seeing some of the group return next year as Peer Leaders.

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