International Youth Centre Villa Elba in Kokkola, Finland hosted a short-term ESC (European Solidarity Corps) volunteering project called "Summer for Success".
During the project in june 2023 10 volunteers from Italy, Austria, Ukraine, Norway, France and Finland carried out summer camps that were open to both local and refugee children. Children spent their time together doing traditional summer camp activities such as playing, singing, swimming and dancing. Multicultural camp is easy and simple way to bring together children from different cultures. Through games and activities it is easier for the children to get to know each other. These shared experiences often lead to long-lasting friendships.
Volunteers planned and led different kinds of workshops and activities and together with the staff of Villa Elba ensured a safe atmosphere for the campers. Over 50 kids participated in these camps and the volunteers managed to create safe and welcoming atmosphere for participants.
During the project volunteers had meetings with a mentor who helped with recognition of their learning outcomes. Here are some learning outcomes that they mentioned:
"Working with kids in general is reflection in personal growth and you can learn so much only by watching. It is very important to be open-minded, listen to other opinions and to respect everybody."
"I deepened my understanding of different cultures and developed the ability to adapt to new situations. I engaged in reflection regarding my goals and motivation for participating in the project."
"My entrepreneurial skills grew the most during this time. It started with very small things, like making a meal and cleaning plan. But there were also tasks like organising the camp, preparing games and creating a time schedule to get everything done."
"We provided assistance to children in reading, writing, and communication to improve their skills and confidence. Working with children helped me change my attitude towards my native language and learn more about other languages through games and communication with the children."
"We were in contact with different cultures on a daily basis and often exchanged ideas and found many differences but also similarities. I also noticed that you shouldn't have prejudices."
Villa Elba provides high quality youth work for all young people. They offer variety of short-term ESC team projects on different topics each year.
The projects can be found on their website: https://www.villaelba.fi/en/short-term-volunteering/, as well as long-term individual ESC projects: https://www.villaelba.fi/en/volunteering/