Summer Camp Series: Elizabeth Bohan

ElizabethThe World Youth Alliance international summer camp has been such an
enriching experience for me: listening to the talks, discussing
prevalent issues, and forming lasting friendships. Martin Buber, one
thinker whose philosophy has been central to our talks, proposes that
there are two types of human relationships: the “I-Thou” and the
“I-It.” Buber explains that through recognizing the objective value of
each human being, and therefore engaging in relationships of mutual
subjectivity, we learn about ourselves and our own intrinsic dignity.
Rooted in his theory of humans in relation, we must use our freedom to
make decisions that will conform with our dignity and that of others.
We must work towards an objective good and ultimately, our own
happiness. Solidarity is the practical application of this dignity and
freedom.

This camp is truly a microcosm and embodiment of the lessons and
values we have been discussing. I have learned so much about myself
simply by meeting and interacting with such a diverse and culturally
rich group of people. There are so many qualities in each camper that
I admire and aspire to attain for myself. They have made me want to
better myself in many different aspects of my life. Each camper offers
something so unique and indispensable to the camp.

Never have I met a group of people so receptive to the dignity of each
individual. We have known each other for just over a week, yet we have
already formed such strong bonds and made such fond memories. What
amazes me is the ease with which we have been able to recognize the
universal, intrinsic, and inalienable dignity in each of us.

Because the camp is international, it is naturally made up of a
diverse group of people from various cultures and countries. Everyone
here is so eager to learn about each other and about what makes us
each unique. We Americans have been practicing our Spanish, Danish,
and Arabic. If I walk down the hall from my dorm, I can find two
roommates, one Muslim and one Catholic, praying alongside each other.
This past Sunday, two campers of the Islamic faith wanted to accompany
us to Catholic mass. They were so excited to learn more about our
faith, and afterwards, they thanked us for having them. I think this
speaks to the high level of respect and admiration we have for each
other.

Everyone wants to help each other, whether it be with laundry or in an
intense game of assassin. The sportsmanship and camaraderie displayed
during every game and activity is so unsurpassable that when it comes
time to nominate a “camper of the day”, I am always left with an
impossible decision.

We all have different talents and strengths and have so quickly come
to appreciate and respect them. The camp does a goos job of providing
opportunities to ensure that each camper has a chance to shine.
Whether it be on the soccer field or when playing improv, each has the
chance to display his or her talents.

The WYA international summer camp is one of the greatest
manifestations of solidarity I have seen. We have formed small
alliances in our heated games of assassin, but we truly have formed
one, big alliance as a camp.

Elizabeth Bohan is an International Summer Camp Participant and a WYA North America member from New York City