Summer camp diary, first edition - Hope and Homes for Children Skip to content

Summer camp diary, first edition

Between July 17-21, 2023, we organized the first of two educational camps for children in the protection system. In this first camp, organized in Afumați, Ilfov county, 15 children and young people from Gorj and Bucharest spent 5 days full of inspiration, success stories and examples of resilience and strength. The second camp, which we will organize for another 15 children from the protection system in Cluj, Botosani and Bistrita-Nasaud counties, will take place between July 31 and August 4, in Șuior, Maramureş county.

Thank you, NN, our traditional partner in organizing educational camps for the last three years.

Day 1: Ascendis breaks the ice

Starting today, for one week, we color dreams and make friends alongside 15 young people from the protection system in Gorj and Bucharest! We started strongly, together with our dear friends from Ascendis, by playing fun and engaging games. Through these activities, we meet and get to know the children, so that we can be by their side, as they deserve. Beautiful days await us together, with wonderful guests, in the first summer camp in which we say #SuntAici for our most vulnerable children

Day 2: A day with Olympians Ionela & Marius Cozmiuc

“In competitions or in life, you never lose: you either win or you learn,” said Ionela Cozmiuc and Marius Cozmiuc, face to face with 15 young people who will soon leave the protection system and start living independently. Determination and resilience come face to face with the uneasiness specific to any start of a journey.

We found out how the palms of multiple world champions look like: full of calluses and wounds, which, says Ionela, if you don’t pay too much attention to them, heal by themselves. The children also asked them how many hours of training they needed each day, whether it was -2 degrees or 40 degrees outside.

The champions talked about what it’s like to know how to lose and start over, but equally to know how to remain true to yourself, when the gold medal shines around your neck.

It was that kind of discussion that feeds the soul and gives wings, that makes you believe that nothing is impossible, if you understand that talent does not matter when it’s constantly doubled with work. Thank you, Ionela and Marius! We keep our fingers crossed at the World Championships, to shine through medals, but, most of all, to continue to shine through who you are.

Day 2: Amalia Enache

“The important thing is to do something for yourself, daily, not just watch what others are doing, on TikTok or Insta, because life should be about our passions and actions, not those of others.”
Some encounters are simply healing. Such as a meeting with Amalia Enache and 30 inquisitive, slightly puzzled eyes – what is it that his lady could tell them so interestingly that it would be worth putting down the phone? 🙂 But, after 5 minutes with Amalia, the phones are forgotten, the eyes are fixed on her, and the perplexity of meeting a stranger takes the place of curiosity.An adult, even a TV star, told them that, at 14, when she went to high school, away from home, she was very afraid. Away from her parents, still a child with many conflicting feelings, vulnerable and fearful. Hard times which, in the end, strengthened her.
And then Amalia asked them about their future thoughts, their aspirations known only to them and imagined just before they put their heads on the pillow in the evening. And she listened carefully to them when they talked about their passions, she even started  following them on Insta, right there in the meeting. She asked Cristina, who loves hairdressing, if she wanted to braid her hair. And she did :). Here and now!
We ended the second meeting of the camp #Day2 with difficulty, because Amalia would not let herself go, nor would the children let her leave.

Day 3: Up and up!

Today, camp was about a lot of music and movement. And about the magical power of hands, whether they beat the drums in sync or lead children in the coolest adventure in nature, at Edenland Park!
So we started the morning in good spirits, with PlaYouth and Mihai Axinte by our side – and with 15 cheerful drums, with which our young people became friends on the spot. So, at 10:00, Mr. Puiu’s yard echoed with the most beautiful noise :)! And, as the energy was up and up since morning, they (hardly) put the drums aside and set off for the adventure that would take them even higher, to the highest trees: for joy and adrenaline to overcome fears, to give strength and confidence that, no matter how high or far it may seem, if you set your mind to it, you can get there.
And it wasn’t just climbing that was challenging today! Participants had to manage their own budget, choose what they want to do and how to have fun, in moderation. Because life is always about measure, isn’t it?
They also competed with bikes, divided into two paintball teams, archery and ziplined yet again, so as not to forget how cool it is high above the ground.

Day 4: Balancing budgets

“These days at camp we learned that we need to work harder for our dreams.” This is what the children said today, after 3 days of climbing, drumming, discussions with inspiring people and games that brought them closer to themselves and their camp mates.
And today is the day for things to get really… serious, although, even when things get serious, we also find ways to play. The day started with NN, with a financial education course. It wasn’t easy, we saw it in the children’s eyes, but it was really useful for what adult life would soon entail.
What are the monthly expenses in a family and how do we manage them correctly?
What is a budget and how do we know how to divide it smartly?
Why do we need savings?
What job do we choose?
What was really challenging, however, was the moment of the practical exercise, when Cristina and Alexandra invited them to fill in the Personal Budget. There, on the spot, pen and paper in hand, to calculate and decide how they will spend their money in the first month when they will be on their own.
Only then did silence really fall in the hall. And instead of puzzled looks, now the children looked anxiously at the sheet of paper. And then, with intent, they began to complete it.
The silence was broken when, finishing filling in the Personal Budget, one of our young adults said, in a deadpan voice: “It’s clear. You have money, you eat. You don’t have money, you’re hungry.”
We have fun and learn in camp. Because, after all, this is what life is about, a continuous learning process, which becomes all the more beautiful as you know how to sprinkle it with smiles.

Day 4: Storytelling

In the second part of the day, we organized the storytelling and public speaking workshop, under the magic wand of Luciana from Mind Architect.
15 stories and as many superheroes. 15 lessons of courage called upon after children put their vulnerabilities and emotions on a piece of paper, then stood up, looked their colleagues in the eyes and told them your story.
It was not an easy afternoon, quite the opposite. But it wasn’t hard either. It was just different for 15 children in the protection system, who have so many untold stories and certainly so few people around to listen.
A welcomed workshop that shook a little the wall that, so often, children with a strong wound of abandonment build around them. But today – as in the other days – a few more bricks fell. It’s cool in the camp! We’re not at the seaside or in the mountains, but we’re seeing emotions as wide as oceans and power as tall as fir trees.

Day 5: Oana Zamfir

If, at the end of day 4 we discovered Bucharest, its stories and emblematic places, the last day of the camp was about other stories: those told every day by journalists. Stories about people, about what happens in the world, both good and bad.
Oana Zamfir is the journalist who today explained what are the challenges this job comes with, what it means to work under the pressure of delivering news in real time, from the field or live, but also how much professional satisfaction it gives you to inform the public through accurate, relevant and objective materials.
And in order to understand how to write a news story and the rules to be followed, the children became, under Oana’s guidance, young journalists. They asked questions, got informed, wrote and presented their prepared materials.

Day 5: Goodbye, for now!

After a week in which they met daily with inspiring people, the children leave the camp today stronger, more confident in their own forces and in what they can achieve. They understood that nothing is ever easy and that you have to fight to get where you want to go. And that giving up when you feel like you can’t do it anymore is not a solution. Because when there is desire, determination and work power, anything is possible.