Between 14-19 August 2023, YMCA Romania in partnership with YMCA Ukraine and YMCA Moldova organized the second edition of Camp HarmonY 2.0 at Podina resort in Ungureni village, Romania.

50 campers and leaders from the 3 countries created a space of safety, learning, fun, strengthening the foundation for more cooperation and developing a network of camp professionals in the region.

Through the camp program we focused on 3 pillars from Vision 2030: Community Wellbeing, Sustainable planet and Just world:

-Provide safe spaces for mind, body and spirit by creating programs that harmoniously support the development of children, youth and communities in terms of their physical, spiritual and mental health

-Support the empowerment of children and young people in terms of interaction with the environment by integrating components of climate education

– Empower children and young people to become peacemakers by educating them in the spirit of promoting and supporting diversity, equity, inclusion, human dignity.

The Camp HarmonY 2.0 program and methodology enabled:

– connecting with others: helped the child/youth to be independent, to constantly create new connections, to socialize easily, to work in a team, to collaborate with others in order for everyone to reach the desired result.

-the freedom to make friends- taught them empathy, but also the fact that great results can be obtained in the team, and the competition has nothing to do with winning/losing, but fir creating a  stronger team.

– overcoming obstacles as well as validation and valorization – self trust, a sense of importance, and courage result in self-confidence, responsibility, fulfillment, and happiness.

The confidence that they can take care of themselves helps children/youth to feel strong. Courage is born of experiments, expeditions, the freedom to try and make mistakes, to see what it means to start over. Not to be afraid. For us it is imperative that we help the child/youth to  feel important. It is necessary to show the child/youth  his/her qualities, to focus on them, to highlight them and support him/her to improve them, we show him/her that it is important, it matters and he/she can do anything.

-connecting the child with nature -stimulated children’s senses, which leads to good brain development, encouraged curiosity, questions and exploration, leading to mental development, self-expression, exploring the inner world and connecting with others, and empathy, improved good mood, reduces depression and chronic fatigue, develops resilience,  increased problem-solving ability,  social skills, adaptability and learning through experiential learning.

-valuing human dignity and human/children’s rights- by recognizing that all people have in common the same humanity and the same dignity, regardless of their specific cultural affiliations, status, abilities or circumstances, recognition of the universal, inalienable and indivisible nature of human rights, recognizing that human rights must always be promoted, respected and protected, recognizing that fundamental freedoms must always be protected unless it impedes or violates the rights of others, recognizing that human rights provide the basis for coexistence as equals in society and freedom, justice and peace in the world 

-valuing cultural diversity -by recognizing that cultural diversity and pluralism of opinions, visions on the world and practices is a product of society and provides an opportunity for development for all members of society, recognizing that all people have the right to be different and the right to choose their own perspectives, views, beliefs and opinions, recognizing that people need to listen to what they have to say and engage in dialogue with those they perceive to be different.

The core competencies (knowledge, skills, attitudes, values) pursued through the Camp Program were:
Humanity and dignity
Reconnecting with people around us to develop a harmonious relationship
Connecting with nature and exploring the contexts it offers
Confidence and self-esteem
Personal example
Reflective listening
Problem solving and decision making

Some testimonials from the campers: 

“ I am the first time in a camp, i love the games that we did, especially those with Peggy, she is awesome, the learning activities, the food,  I made new friends and the counselors are the best” (Camper from YMCA Moldova)

“I was part of this camp even before it started. I was also last year part of the YMCA Romania team. I am a Ukrainian refugee from Odessa. Everybody is so cool, so open to each other, and the activities are fun but we are also learning, and this learning we can use it in our life. Most of the activities were interesting to me. Everything was perfect for me. I really hope to be able to come back in this camp”- ( Ukrainian refugee, camper of YMCA Romania;  in the end of August 2023 he returned with family in Odessa)

“I absolutely love it here. We have so many activities, good food, and I made a lot of friends and had fun with them. We had activities that required teamwork, thinking, reflecting,  we had treasure hunt where we had to find different stuff using the tablets, another one – labyrinth theater where we need it to put trust in somebody else because we were blindfolded and we had to pass different stages and we used our senses a lot, and last night we had Eurovision, song contest and we had to choose our favorite singer and to sing a song from him/her. We had lots of fun!” ( YMCA Romania camper)

“My favorite activity was Eurovision and because I sang, everybody sang and it was so cool, Ukrainian songs, English songs.. So cool.. I like this camp so much because there are so many new friends, it is great! ( YMCA Ukraine camper)

“It is my second time in Camp HarmonY , I really liked it last year so I thought about coming back. I just got along with everybody, it was good to see the Ukrainian and Moldova people from last year. We had activities that were good last year and I liked that they kept it also this year and we had new activities that were quite interesting. I made a lot of new friends and the food was really great. I was always very excited to see the next activities and make even more friends. ( YMCA Romania camper)

Link with Camp HarmonY 2.0 photo album :

Youtube YMCA ROMANIA – Interview with Dumitru Roibu, Executive president of YMCA Moldova – Interview with Laura Ilies, Head Counselor Camp HarmonY , YMCA Romania Interview with Oksana Yaremenko , President YMCA Ukraine

All these learning processes could not be done without the YMCA Europe Roots for Peace and our amazing hosts at Podina Resort and our partners from Crucea Rosie Romana – Filiala Maramures.
Thank you  YMCA Camp Duncan – Bobby Thomas, CEO and Day Camp Director Margaret Alymer for the support, enhanced learning, energy, facilitation and fun.
This was a Camp Europe pilot initiative that was happening  all over the continent, within the framework of Roots for Peace Programme.