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Youth camps – what it takes to organise them

01.07.2022 – FABIENNE STOCKER

The Youth Service of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad hosts several youth camps every year. Look behind the scenes and you will see that our camps involve a great deal of planning and rely on the amazing commitment and initiative of our well-trained camp leaders.

For the Youth Service of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), every camp begins with the challenge of appointing camp leaders. It is not only about recruiting enough leaders, but also about finding people who are well-trained. One leader is needed for every 12 participants, and every leader has to have done the Y+S instructor course in camp sports and trekking. Y+S stands for Youth and Sport, the federal government scheme to promote sport. Those assigned overall responsibility for a camp must be even more qualified. They need to have completed training as a Y+S camp leader. All OSA youth camps meet clearly defined requirements and can therefore be registered with the Federal Office of Sport (FOSPO), which is responsible for the Y+S scheme to promote sport. FOSPO-registered camps enjoy considerable benefits. For example, they can provide all camp participants with Swiss Air-Rescue (Rega) insurance cover.

Practical planning for the summer camps begins every year at the end of February. The initial planning stage takes all Y+S-related requirements into account while drawing up a programme of activities that is as balanced as possible.

Work on the detailed plans can start once these broad outlines are in place. The camp leadership teams meet at their summer camp locations in May to discuss the programme of activities in detail. The programme for a two-week camp can result in up to 200 pages of guidelines! Depending on the activities in question, planning not only covers procedures and schedule but also addresses any issues relating to safety. For example, camp leaders will complete all the planned hikes and explore the actual localities themselves before the camp. This helps them to decide which activities are viable and what the scope of these activities should be. Every camp should provide participants with the opportunity to go on hikes, play ball games, go swimming, go on trips to nearby cities, experience the Swiss countryside – and share their own experiences of life as a Swiss expatriate. Detailed plans for this year’s camps have almost been finalised, and the Youth Service of the OSA is looking forward to welcoming and meeting over 100 young people from around the world.

Organisation of the Swiss Abroad SwissCommunity, Youth Service Alpenstrasse 26, 3006 Berne, Switzerland +41 31 356 61 25

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