This summer, after two years of waiting, Common Ground finally happened! An international camp for young people centred around cooperation, youth empowerment and activism.
More than 2700 people from across the world gathered together during 10 days to share the incredible experience of an international camp.
Common Ground was an IFM-SEI (International Falcon Movement – Socialist Educational International) camp organised and hosted by Woodcraft Folk in Kelmarsh, in the United Kingdom. This event was planned to be in 2020 but because of Covid and other logistical reasons it was postponed, fortunately, the board team never gave up on this project, they worked hard to give life to this amazing event.
The camp was an opportunity for young people to have fun, learn about different cultures and make new friends. We were joined at camp by 960 friends from around 22 different countries outside the UK. Everyone lived together, learned from each other, we cooked, ate and played together, as Kate, a young participant said “There was a great chilled out vibe and camping with other nationalities helped us learn new games and cooperation with people who didn’t speak English.”
More than 150 workshops and activities were organised every other day about different important topics. The goal was to have an international festival of ideas, education and games for social change, around the theme “International friendship and solidarity”. 15 engaging programme centres were set up to enable young people to learn about topics such as cooperation, conflict and peace, environment and migration, anti-racism and anti-fascism and much more. The Programme Team made sure that everybody was included, to reduce the language barrier, translators were available in all the centres. Moreover, about 40 workshops were available to under 10 year old children, they also had a centre for themselves, called “The cool zone”.
“It was an amazing feeling to see all the work and preparation that has been done for so long coming finally together at Common Ground. The central area was an essential part of it, where volunteers from all around the world delivered activities in 15 different programme centres and it certainly was one of the vital places where issues were raised, conversations were triggered and new friendships started.” – Sandra Kourtsounioti, ESC volunteer / programme centre coordinator.
Common Ground was also the opportunity for IFM-SEI to run their impactful projects such as Kids Got Rights or Journey of Youth Leadership, important topics focusing on child participation and the empowerment of children and young people.
This camp was a big success and made a mark on many minds, however it’s important to highlight the huge challenge Woodcraft Folk faced with some attendees’ visa applications. Many countries got their visas rejected and it affected a lot of young people. Inclusivity was at the heart of the camp so it was a huge blow to the youth organisation that many weren’t allowed to attend. We hope that in the future children of the world will all be able to attend and live similar international camp experiences together.
This amazing event happened thanks to all the hard work from volunteers, staff, groups, members and funders. There are many ways to get involved and to participate in the creation of an international camp and Woodcraft Folk’s wider youth work. If you are interested you can find more information on this page https://woodcraft.org.uk/get-involved/
Woodcraft Folk will host another camp in 2025 to celebrate its centenary and they hope to see you there.
Check the YouTube video to relive some of Common Ground memories: https://youtu.be/MiwvANUyCkA