The WYA camp is not only camping by itself, and is not only studying by itself. You don’t feel like you’re in school or as if you’re in a forest-type camp. It feels like being in your second home, where you learn and grow.
At the WYA camp, the campers became my brothers and sisters and the counselors become brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, etc. It’s a place where you learn a lot about other countries’ customs, languages, and how different people think and behave.
At this camp you learn about yourself, about others, and about the relationship between those two. You learn why you’re different from others and at the same time equal, and about how dignity and freedom are relevant to life and why these things are related to you and part of you.
I have to say that at the beginning of this really big adventure I was so excited, but when I was on the airplane, I thought, “what am I doing?!” When I arrived at the WYA house, Marie started introducing me to some of the campers from so many different countries. I became overwhelmed and thought that I would never get anything right, and that I shouldn’t be there.
But the days passed on and I started really knowing the counselors and the campers, and I started to talk with them and know some things about them, and then I began to realize that they were awesome people and, in the case of most of the campers, feeling exactly the same as I was. Every day became more interesting as I got to know the campers and their unique customs, and how they were similar and different to mine.
When the talks started it was kind of weird for me at the beginning because there were many language obstacles that kept me from understanding, but the more deep they got the more I was able to understand. New windows were opened to me that weren’t before. It’s always good to know more about ourselves and our surroundings, and to know how to relate to others who speak different languages and have different cultures than you. It’s important to expand your horizons, and to realize that there’s a whole big world outside of your doors and your own country.
So, in so many words, I can say now that coming to the WYA Summer Camp was one of the best decisions I have made in these last few years, because it really brought me to realize why we are different but why we are always looking to reach the same goal. I learned this through the talks and activities, and I definitely left with a big new bag full of tools to go and see the world in a different way than before.
By Montserrat Lanz Padilla, a WYA member and International Summer Camp participant from Queretaro, Mexico