Youth Camp 2023 – Creativity and Community

This year’s youth camp was all about creativity and community. To make this a lived experience, we moved to the Art Mountain in Tamera and stayed there for the whole two weeks.

This year we had about 30 young people aged 14 to 20. We reduced the numbers slightly compared to previous years so as to create more intimacy within the group.

We started with an introductory talk about Tamera and our work. The next day we went on a pilgrimage, sometimes in silence, sometimes in conversation, walking 17km to a nearby place called Pego das Pias, commonly known as “Paradise Place” in Tamera because of its natural beauty. We spent the day together, with drawing exercises, games to get to know each other and a talk about what does it mean to live in community. The next day we returned to the Art mountain in Tamera and started our art days.

During these days we had talks about art, the human being in the cosmos and meditations to get in touch with another entity. We introduced painting and explored with colours. The creations were very impressive, the door to many souls on the canvas.

After three days of painting, we introduced “love school day”, which is always a highlight and a meaningful experience for everyone in the camp. We had girls and boys rounds where we shared moving experiences. For us in the team we are reminded again and again how important this work is, creating spaces where young people can share and talk about their experiences in a held space without fear of judgement. We find that many of the youth bring similar issues and questions, and through the sharing, strong bonds of support are created within the group that last long after the camp has ended.

In the second week we continued our time at the art mountain, moving from painting to theatre. The focus was to create our own masks. Simultaneously, we played little improvisation exercises to discover the magic of masks and the characters that can be created. It was a joy to see the masks slowly come into being. And we were very impressed by the quality of the masks that were created.

Along the way we continued to have our boys and girls rounds and forum work.

There was also many different evening events – for example we had one where we invited activists who have just done an activist retreat in Tamera to talk about their life and work. Hearing their life stories was inspiring for all of us.

We also had an evening in the Bar, where Fabio Miranda, from the Institute Favela da Paz in Brazil, spoke. Among many things, he spoke about how to integrate new technologies in a community inside the favelas (slums) of São Paulo. His nephew, who was part of our youth camp, also spoke this evening about his life in the Favela, and what is possible in the face of such adversity when you have a vision and a belief.

We had the gift of listening to a session on trauma, describing how trauma works and some of the main responses to it – fight, flight, freeze or fawn. We discussed how to recognise when we are in these responses and practiced ways to regulate our nervous system, both individually and collectively. Many young people (and also the adults) were grateful for this time.

As in many years of the youth camp, we also did a final presentation, where we invited guests and the community into “our living room” on the art mountain. There was an exhibition with our pictures, a small play with masks, acrobatics and poems, reports about things we learnt and experiences in the camp, as well as rapping and singing. The aim was to share some of the worlds we had created in the youth camp with the wider community in Tamera. This was a very successful evening where many of the youth felt seen and appreciated.

We are delighted with how the camp went this year and we think it was a huge success.

Thank you to everyone who made this time possible. Thank you to the youth, the residents of Art Mountain and all the teachers and speakers who joined us.