Unique Opportunity for Young People Across Northern Ireland to Build Lasting Relationships

05 August 2022

Young people at the CAMP Summit | NICRC

Over 300 young people, volunteers and staff gathered for a cross-community Good Relations camp organised by Youth Initiatives NI. For the past 20 years, these camps have formed a successful cornerstone summer programme for the organisation, and has had a positive effect on many young people’s lives.

Youth Initiatives NI is a cross-community youth work organisation that specialises in reaching out to young people aged 11-25. The organisation is supported through the Community Relations Council’s Core Funding Scheme.

The week-long Youth Initiatives CAMP Summit took place in July 2022, with participants, volunteers and staff gathering at Ganaway Activity centre for fun, friendship, and cultural cross-community workshops.

“Participants spent the week building friendships across community and cultural divides,” Lynda Whinnery, Youth Initiatives Manager, explained. With pursuits such as “good relations workshops, outdoor activities, arts workshops, and entertainment including silent UV disco, talent shows, messy games and much more!”

Agents of change

An intrinsic aim for the camps is to empower young people to become agents of change.

“Youth Initiatives seeks to awaken hope in young people,” Lynda said, “and journey alongside them as they grow and develop into agents of change in their communities and become good relations champions. Our camp provides a unique opportunity for our participants to learn and develop skills together.”

But the recent Covid-19 pandemic played havoc with the delivery of such camps.

“We have a rhythm to our calendar, with our camp running every other year,” Lynda said. “Covid has played havoc with that rhythm and young people, who have heard the stories about camp, because of Covid didn't have the opportunity to have that experience.”

However, many young people are now able to experience “camp life” for the first time in two years.

Lynda continued: “Many young people this summer are experiencing their first residential or their first one in 2 years – something they have craved and looked forward to as Covid-19 restrictions eased and changed.”

 

Creating community

Lynda has seen first-hand how young people grow and learn over the course of a camp or residential.

“They develop stronger relationships and quicker friendships over the course of a few days away than they do in a programme,” Lynda said. “Since Covid, they have craved connection with others and to take up the experiences that Covid-19 restrictions stole from them.”

The Youth Initiative CAMP Summit provides a necessary space for young people to create community and build lasting friendships.

“The CAMP summit provided a space for them to create community across age ranges, community and religious backgrounds and from different geographical parts of Northern Ireland,” Lynda said. “They have cemented friendships that will live beyond the camp with those they would not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.”

Participant quotes

Camp was awesome, it was great getting to spend proper time with people other areas that we would never have met otherwise."

Demi, 15-years-old

 

I loved the mix activities, you got to make new friends and feel connected to people not from my hub as well as get closer to those from my area.”

Sophie, 15-years-old

 

Images

Here are some images from the Youth Initiatives CAMP Summit 2022:

Young people at the CAMP Summit | NICRC Young people after playing sport | NICRC Young people at the CAMP Summit | NICRC Young people around a camp fire | NICRC Young people at the Youth Initiatives CAMP Summit | NICRC

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