A Family We Make: Reflections of an Indonesian Summer Camper

SC 2014The very first time I heard about WYA was when I visited Asean Youth Friendship Network (AYFN) Facebook fan page I have joined for more than a year, and they posted about a summer camp that would be held in the Philippines, since I have never joined any international summer camp its challenge for me to join it. So at the same time I signed the Charter in WYA website and became a member, then I started to get to know about human dignity and I was so curious to know more. I filled in my summer camp application and wrote an essay about human dignity as best as I could. And I consider myself as lucky, because after almost 3 weeks impatiently waited for the result; I was chosen to be one of the participants of the summer camp. Yeah!!

On May 10th I left my family and friends behind to board a plane all by myself to the Philippines. I had mixed feelings about what I was getting myself in for. I was so excited yet scared because I was the only one participant came from Indonesia. After traveling for 3.5 hours by plane and 2 hours by a minivan that picked me with the other international participants from the airport we finally made it to the World Youth Alliance Asia Pacific Summer Camp 2014 at 9:30am in Palm Beach Resort Batangas. I was met by the Regional Director, Sir Lord Pomperada, and I met  other campers from the Philippines and from Cambodia. Young, smart, and talented, they gave me the friendliest welcome I could ever imagine! They all seemed fascinated by me, but they were fascinated by every new person that arrived after me but straight away any type of home sickness had disappeared and I felt safe in this strange place. After speaking to quite a lot of people in my first hour, we started the opening ceremony of the camp, led by the Regional Director and the Facilitators. The facilitators are also young people who are senior members of WYA. They gave me lots of information about what to expect for the summer and what would we gained from this 5 days training. It was the perfect first day and I felt like I had known these people all my life, after just one day, we all had a quick time to get to know each other as we would spend the next 5 days for Track A training and becoming dignity defenders together!

So summer camp has finally rolled round, all those weeks of counting down were over and what I’d come to the country for was finally here! In this camp we studied about 7 chapters from the CTP Manual, it’s 399 pages which contain: Foundation History of WYA, Human Dignity, Freedom, Solidarity, Culture, History of Ideas, and International Human Rights, this CTP manual gives me a lot of things to learn to understand from the story and articles in it, to be member of WYA and dignity defender at least we should understand the concept of those chapter and able to explain the basic idea and promoting human dignity to society. I learned a range of different things. I learned all about the human dignity in addition to the different levels of life, freedom and the difference between a subject and object. We also had breakout session after each chapter, we divided to smaller groups and each group was led by a facilitator. Here we had more time to sharing, discussion, and brainstorm our ideas of those particular chapters and how it reflects to real situation happening in this world that helped us deepen our understanding even more.

But hey it was a summer camp, we had a lot of stuff to study here and we might need extra time to continue reading our manual at night, but we would not miss to having fun. We had some games which played together and some we played in groups, we sang and made music together, we made group cheer which was so fun and memorable. And we didn’t need to worry to be hungry, we ate a lot, and those foods were just made the summer camp perfect. J

I had many great moments at camp but some of them were out of this world. On day 4, we had an amazing race activity. Spirit fest is crazy but it’s such a great activity as you get to act however you want and nobody will judge you, which is just how all summer was to be fair, everybody loves everybody and you feel as if you’re in this one big family. Again, throwing yourself into every activity just makes the campers appreciate you a bit more, that could possibly be my favorite moment of the summer.

There are just too many stories to tell about how good the summer is but I will move on to the lifelong friends you make at camp. I went to camp having no friends at camp, not expecting to get attached to the lifestyle and just thinking it would be a good life experience and something I could tick off the bucket list but something changed during the summer. I made a lot of friends but then I am no longer friends with these people, they became my family, I must have about 30 siblings now and I miss every single one of those people at camp.

So at the very last night of the camp, we had surprise night, it was one of our friend’s birthday and I guess it would be one of his best birthdays ever. And after it, the facilitator gave us some strings (it’s Lao tradition) which have different colors which also have different meaning, red for love, green for wealth, blue for peace, and others. So we gave one string to our friends, tied it on their wrist to and express our feeling to them, words of gratitude were really overflowing that night, We had one final barbeque before sitting down on the beach , everybody were having mix feeling between happy to have new family but also realize that we had to say goodbye. Reliving all the great moments we’d had together all summer, the friends you gain from the experience is magical. After living with all these people for the best 5 days of our life, leaving them is heartbreaking. Every single person at the beach on the final day was crying.

I still vividly remember all those memorable experience at the summer camp but now it’s time for me to re-act. The comprehensive 5 days training has opened up my eyes and my mind, there are still a lot of things to do to defend human dignity, to my family, my friends, my neighbor, organizations I attend, all the people around me. It’s about how in small way I can help others grapple the whole idea. At least I may help to bring hope to less fortunate in society to have some hope in life, to at least dream for a better life and encourage them to nurture their dreams. We all have the same right to pursue our dreams, am I right? I would like to invite young people around me to join me and World Youth Alliance to work on this.

I could bore you for absolutely hours with the amount of stories I have from camp but I think for now this is enough and I hope if you doubted whether to go to WYA summer camp or not this has made your mind up. Spending the five awesome days with 30 promising people who wants to achieve change in their little ways is one of my summer highlights for this 2014. Realized and pondered a lot of things which might answer my life’s deeper calling. Thanks World Youth Alliance for this dignity push and big thanks to my camp-mates!

By Risdi Yanto, a WYA Asia Pacific Summer Camp graduate from Indonesia

The WYA Asia Pacific Regional Director will be visiting Jakarta City, Indonesia from July 14 to 17, 2014. If you want to meet him or arrange a talk in your school, you may send an email to asiapacific@wya.net