Ideas, ways to improve the world, intergenerational interactions

Romy Schrammel
Romy Schrammel 30/08/2023 5 minutes

After three long summers, the VIG Kids Camp in Austria has finally been resurrected! Both the children and the caregivers were overjoyed at the prospect — something that Project Manager Petra Engl (VIG Sponsoring) and Romy Schrammel (Press and Public Relations) were able to experience first-hand when they paid a visit to each of the three VIG Kids Camp sites.

First on the agenda was the Mountain Camp in St. Michael im Lungau: The camp hosted 110 children from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia, giving them two unforgettable weeks. A performance given by some of the children at the Schloss Kahlsperg senior citizens' residence in Hallein was particularly impressive. They delighted the residents with traditional dances and songs from their home country. The senior citizens watched spellbound as the children performed "Kolo", a popular Southern Slavic round dance. "It's beautiful; I'm really enjoying it," said 86-year-old resident Philomena.

The visitors from the head office in Vienna also dropped in on a very special environmental project at the Mountain Camp: Working with expert guidance and support from Hans Schiefer, a passionate local beekeeper and fruit farmer, the children planted 12 small apple trees in the garden of their hostel, JUFA Hotel Lungau. The experience taught these young children about the importance of sustainability and nature in a fun way.

After leaving Salzburg, Petra Engl and Romy Schrammel then moved on to Austria's southernmost federal state, Carinthia. At the Lake Camp in Seeboden on Lake Millstätter, more than 150 children from Albania, Bosnia, Serbia, Slovenia, Germany, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Poland, Türkiye and Austria enjoyed plenty of fun times taking part in sports and other activities in and around the water. Oliver, Stefan and Alya raved about the experience:

Oliver (aged 13) from Slovakia
I love the water here; I can kayak and paddle-board and swim all day. And we do a lot of sport — I really like it!
Oliver Slovakia

On one particularly rainy afternoon, some of the children at the Lake Camp visited the AHA senior citizen's centre in Seeboden to surprise the residents with some dancing and singing that they had been rehearsing especially for the occasion. One of those to make the visit was nine-year-old Katka from Slovakia, who started the performance with The Beatles' "All My Loving". The clarity of her voice truly won the hearts of the audience. She sings in the children's radio choir and also plays the guitar, we were told later by Lucia, one of the caregivers. Barnabas (aged 11) who lives near Budapest had also prepared a rousing hip hop solo. He would like to become a dance teacher one day.

Having packed up some touching and emotional memories along with their luggage, Petra Engl and Romy Schrammel returned to Vienna, going directly to Kolpinghaus "Gemeinsam leben" in Leopoldstadt, a communal living space. Their visit was eagerly awaited by a group of children from Georgia. Nervous, but full of excitement, they were waiting to meet the senior citizens as part of an initiative to encourage intergenerational interactions. Interaction is a central theme for both the Kolpinghaus and the VIG Kids Camp. The residents were thrilled to see the impressive performances given by the youngsters. Among them was 10-year-old Barbare, who performed the traditional Georgian dance "Khorumi", which symbolises power and strength. Another of the children, also named Barbare (aged nine) enchanted all those present not only with her homemade crown but also with her performance of the song "Anastasia" from the film of the same name. Keta (aged 13) played the guitar and sang in Georgian about the sun, the moon and love.

The children reprised some of these performances later the same day at a talent show held that evening to celebrate the end of the VIG Kids Camp. The talent show at the City Camp in Strebersdorf traditionally takes place on a Thursday evening ahead of the weekend journey home – even COVID-19 couldn't shake that tradition, nor the barbecue that takes place before the show. So there is plenty of opportunity to interact with the children. The City Camp hosted a total of 116 children from Romania, Georgia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 2023.

One of the children that Romy Schrammel struck up a conversation with was Joris from Lithuania (aged 11). He told her about the idea behind the submission that secured him a ticket to VIG Kids Camp 2023. Joris designed a poster that illustrated various topics that are important to him, like reducing waste, encouraging recycling, diversity and inclusion, opting to travel by bicycle rather than car, and treating others with kindness. He then asked someone to take a photograph of him holding the poster.

"I think that as many people as possible should travel by bicycle rather than car, provided the weather is pretty much OK. And we should all separate our rubbish anyway. Also, I think that everywhere in the world women and black people should not be treated worse". In the centre of the poster he stuck a small photo of himself and wrote in English: I am changing the world by starting with myself. And as he wrote on the poster, that means: "Donating part of my pocket money to Ukraine."

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