After 2018’s Bivy Camp program, Youth Camp Experiences partnered with CitizenCorps, which has run a civic engagement program called BECOME for several years. Together, they created BECOMEthecamp, which welcomed 36 teenagers during two sessions in July 2019. We talked with the teens and the organizers!
A civic awakening in diverse surroundings
“Be inspired, be challenged, take action”
These 36 young people live in Marseille, Lyon, or even the suburbs of Paris. They’re in middle or high school, from different backgrounds. And they chose to spend much of the month of July far from their friends, phones and video games.
They joined BECOMEthecamp, a socially and environmentally commited program at thecamp for teenagers, with a focus this year on learning about the challenges we face around food. Anchored in the pillars of “inspiration, surpassing oneself and action,” the method aims to transform teens into responsible citizens. Over 10 days, the teenagers learned civic responsibility and how to take action for environmental and social cuases. The groups were supervized by a team of experts in communal life, with activity leaders, mediators and facilitators.
Did you know?
- According to a study by IFOP in 2016 for France Bénévolat et Recherches & Solidarités, 21% of people under 35 volunteer in an association, a percentage that’s climbed 5% since 2010.
- The same source indicates that three-quarters of volunteers cite being useful to society and taking action for others as the main reason for their commitment.
“We live according to rules that we defined together”
The experience starts with reconnecting with nature. Our young people stay in teepees, split into groups of 3 or 4, in the natural landscape, outdoors, at thecamp. In the morning, they wake up early and sleep under the stars at night.
In the program, there are goals for interpersonal skills, for mixing with different social groups, and for civic engagement,” says Julien Taieb, an educator for the program. The human aspect is therefore at the center of the program and community life is a priority. The participants are confronted with each other when they use thecamp’s common spaces such as the beach volleyball court, the soccer field, and the swimming pool. Some of them are just discovering how to relate to adults and respect rules for harmonious life.
“We live according to rules that we defined together to make sure each individual is responsible with regard to the groupe,” affirms Olivier Grasselin, the program director. The tasks are shared collectively, from laundry to meals, but also during workshops and festive moments.
Awareness of and commitment to sustainable development
“When I tell people that it would be cool to work in organic farming, they say I’ll earn minimum wage”
An ecological awakening is created by the experience of the place, thecamp, a campus that was designed to limit its impact on the environment and to remain open to nature. And no barbecues in summer! All day, meals are 100% vegetarian so as to limit their environmental impact. Some participants are surprised that others can't stand avoiding meat for a few days. Others start forming an environmental consciousness. Hear one participant speak about her view of her future (in French):
The commitment to a world that’s more humane and sustainable was also forged through encounters with the local association community and the creation of concrete sustainable projects.
The first group worked with the association Yes We Camp to construct a welcome structure designed by the Pôle Eco Design (a responsible design agency in Gardanne), installed in the Parc Foresta in Marseille. This little cell-shaped module will provide a space to rest and for shade, but also storage space for the zone. It’s the fruit of a collective effort that visitors will be able to continue to enjoy.
During an event to raise awareness about waste-avoidance and local distribution networks, and in collaboration with the assiciations Cantina, Les Alchimistes and Coco Velten, 18 participants prepared and served 50 meals, all made from unsold food.
During the second session, the teens also got an introduction to urban agriculture thanks to the association Le Paysan Urbain in Marseille.
Hear from the BECOMEthecampers themselves:
A huge thank to all the socially and environmentally committed teenagers who joined BECOMEthecamp – we can’t wait to see what you do next!