Seminars 2013

Although I’ve been involved in CISV for over four years now, this year I finally got to go out and experience the thing that I’ve heard so many amazing stories about – an international camp.

I was a participant in a Seminar Camp held about an hour outside Lisbon, Portugal, near to a town called Corouche. I was absolutely terrified arriving at Lisbon airport to meet the people I’d be spending the next three, intense, amazing weeks with, despite the fact that I’d already spoken to and met a few others the day before. It helped running into a familiar, friendly face (the Leeds leader for the Lisbon Step Up), but after that I began to realise that everyone else was just as scared/nervous/excited as I was.

As a group of people, we were amazing. Everyone seemed to mesh well together, and we hit it off, doing the pony song in the airport with the Step Up leaders and staff too. According to what usually happens (or so I’ve been told), we had a dip in the middle of the camp; people felt down at times, and some were having a really hard time feeling properly accepted into the group.

rach seminar copy

For me, the most amazing thing about my Seminar Camp was the way we all pulled together through that dip; we planned specific activities to bring the group closer together (sharing stories and crying together definitely does the trick!), and the moment that, while doing personal fists of five, the one boy who had been a one or two for the first two weeks of camp became a four was amazing for all of us – I felt so proud that we’d managed to pull ourselves into the family that CISV prides itself upon.

Although we had our problems, as every camp does, we managed to make Seminar Camp “Climb it like a tree” into the camp that we really wanted, and I loved every moment of it (apart from leaving).

I’ll never forget the amazing activities that I had on my Seminar Camp, and the things that I’ve learnt, but most importantly I’ll never forget the people I’ve met and the things that they unknowingly taught me about myself – especially that it really is possible to share a small bedroom with eight girls and a bathroom with thirteen.

Rachel Whitaker


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