Reports/statements from Camppartners

Mrs. Patzer (Mayor – Paplitz):
“It is already over a week since we had to say goodbye to our work campers. Despite the short time we spent getting to know most of the team, the moment of departure is always very emotional for everyone. And I especially always admire this normality of young people from “all over the world” living, working and celebrating together in this community and also with our residents of all generations. And not to forget the support that our church community and the village community receives through the voluntary commitment of the young people.”

Nele Schmidt (YMCA Youth Officer Ruhland)
Since 2016 we had already been in 3 summers as YMCA Ruhland e.V. a so called camp partner at a workcamp of the Ecumenical Youth Services. A total of 45 young people from 7 different countries have participated, plus some of our own youth and young adults. This kind of international youth work has definitely enriched and gifted us each time.

Our experiences:
Various clean-up, landscaping, clean-up and de-cluttering jobs have been done at our house over the years.
The participants were incredibly dedicated, motivated, and ready and willing to work. Each year we accomplished more than we had originally planned.
For example, a new volleyball court was built for the youth work, a Benjes hedge to the neighboring property, a new roof for the old bowling lane, and to top it all off, our old youth house was prepared for complete renovation during the last camp. Here, a new place for regional youth work is to be created under the name “Ankerplatz” and the 2019 camp has contributed significantly in preparation, with incredibly great (wo)man power and incredible commitment, whereby our own club members were literally infected.
In addition, the leisure activities were a fantastic opportunity to bring our own young people into contact with the group and to break down fears with other nationalities or language barriers. It is a good and very suitable form to become active with the own youth groups in a democracy-building way.
We have never regretted any of the work camps, even if there were certainly challenges here and there due to the cooperation with the different nationalities. In the end, we have grown even more. We would and will definitely do it again and again and plan to hold another camp in 2022 if necessary.
(Ruhland, December 09, 2020)

Mrs Patzer (Mayor – Paplitz):
“Looking back, I must say that it was again a great time with and during the work camp. Even if it takes some time and work, it is an enrichment for all of us, especially since a lot of work was given back to us. There were very good conversations and nice encounters at work, with residents, with the volleyball players from Paplitz and the surrounding districts and much more. And when tears flow at the farewell ceremony for workcampers and Paplitz residents, then it is a good sign in this case. The relationship within the group was also remarkable, incredibly harmonious. That can hardly be increased, it was simply pleasant. And it is amazing how everything runs peacefully without conflict in this small setting with people from many different nations. It could be an example and model for the coexistence of all mankind. Thank you that the work camp worked out this year at all.”

The team of the Helmut-Gollwitzer-Haus (Educational Institution of the Protestant Youth in Wünsdorf-Waldstadt / Brandenburg):
“Since 1988 we have been hosting the preparatory and follow-up meetings with all team members for the ÖJD work camps every year in our house – we are a youth education centre with 60 beds, where seminars of extracurricular youth education take place. Our house has therefore been very attached to the ÖJD and the international teams for a long time.
In 2008, 2015 and 2016, we were able to be a camport ourselves: not only for the participants, but also for everyone in the house, these were always very intensive weeks full of exchange!

Our first workcamp was dedicated to renovation. In close cooperation with our housekeeper, rooms, fireplace corner, dining room and youth cellar were painted.

We experienced this work camp as particularly intensive and enriching, and it left many very good memories with our employees to this day. With a lot of commitment and good humour, the young people paved a new fireplace in the shape of a sun, which is very much appreciated by all our guests. They also mended the wire mesh fence on our sports field and painted our wooden fence. The atmosphere was great and a cooking course with our cook Manfred rounded off the two weeks. Afterwards our employees received certificates from the participants as a token of gratitude.

2016 was a turbulent year for our company. In addition to our guests, we hosted underage refugees for 10 months. The participants in our work camp showed a lot of openness (joint games around the campfire) and flexibility, among other things, everyone had to move a little closer together and a change of sleeping rooms was necessary. Nonetheless, the work was dedicated: a lot of woodwork, painting and paving work on the site was necessary. Furthermore, thanks to the young people we had new material for our outdoor educational seminars after the work camp: they made logs from the forest into pole wood, which we used for building rafts with school classes.
In 2016 the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the Ecumenical Youth Services took place in our house with more than 70 participants.

And now we are happy to host the first meeting of the newly founded support association at the beginning of May 2021.
We wish the EYS all the best and look forward to being a close partner in the future!”

Mr. Höhne (Cemetery administrator Luisenkirchhöfe – Berlin-Charlottenburg):
“I learned about the Ecumenical Youth Services and the work camp programme through contacts with the AKD. I found Karoline’s approach and her enthusiasm inspiring and I helped to create the slogans (“united we work”) over 10 years ago. I then got in touch with other EYS volunteers, for example Moh, who created the design for the EYS for more than ten years. Everyone was so positive and hands-on. At some point, I thought about whether the Luisenkirchhöfe in Charlottenburg, which I run, might not also be a good work camp location. I wanted to bring new life to the cemeteries and let them share in the enthusiasm of young people from all over the world.
14 work camps have already been organised (2010-2018), and each one is different. There are now many cemetery visitors who ask in early summer, “Well, when are the young people coming back?” In the beginning many people were amazed that young people work as volunteers for the restoration of old grave grids and for the many other tasks of garden conservation. In the meantime, our visitors find it great that the cemeteries have been breathed a good spirit by the volunteers. For the cemetery workers it is impressive that there are people who voluntarily and enthusiastically give their energy to the cemetery. This somehow adds value to their own work. Many elderly visitors are happy that there are volunteers with whom they can speak Russian or Polish or or speak with them. Some of them are moved to tears and bring a cake. Sometimes the contrast between youthful élan and the old cemeteries is a bit funny, but we only hear positive things. The workcamps are simply great.

In concrete terms, the work camps have had a great impact on the cemetery and our work: The workcamps have till today performed more than 10,000 volunteer hours in the cemeteries by restoring old fences, cleaning sculptures, renovating historically unique burial chambers, building benches, restoring old cemetery walls and much more. We guarantee the professional supervision, but sometimes we had already trained restorers among the participants*, which was of course a stroke of luck. All visitors to the cemetery benefit from the results, because it is nice to see how the historical heritage is maintained and preserved. This is work that the cemetery could not even manage in everyday life, because unfortunately there is not enough time for it.

One cannot overestimate the charisma of volunteer work and the revitalisation for the cemetery. It may sound strange, but the work of the workcampers has a comforting effect on the relatives of the people buried in the cemetery.”

Herr Chmielus (Freunde der Klosterruine St. Wigbert e.V. – Göllingen)
Greeting and wishes for 100 years of workcamps