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Serbia Project – August 29

29th August 2013

It's funny how everyone takes out their cameras on the last day. And Dima is busy like never before because everybody wants to take group pictures.
Saying good bye was quite emotional as we all became good friends over the last one and a half weeks. Even though we'll see each other again in a couple of days for our action week in Kraljevo it was somehow strange to see the group sitting on the bus and leaving Tara National Park.
We're all excited for the next week to take action and have a huge clean up and flashmob!

Serbia Project – August 28

28th August 2013

In the beginning of a project the end always seems to be so far away. It seems as if you'll have endless time together, so many things to organize, to take care of.
But suddenly it's the last day and you realize how fast time flew by…
The final day was spent on the campsite by playing team games against each other.
The four groups were very competitive and everyone wanted to win which caused some discussions concerning the rules of the games.
But everybody enjoyed it a lot and it was great fun to fit as many people as possible on a tree trunk, balance a spoon with an apple on it with your mouth, save the earth from a "nuclear catastrophe" and build planes and a construction that can carry a can of paint out of paper.
The highlight of the day was definitely our huge barbecue in the evening! Sitting around the campfire grilling bread, steaks, apples and chocolate bananas, listening to the guitare and singing along was such an awesome ending of this great week!
We can proudly say that it was a big success and every single participant enjoyed these couple of days in Tara National Park.
The greatest sentence we heard was something like "The best day of the last year was when I received the mail saying I was chosen for the Ecocamp. But this day was even topped by arriving here and spending an incredible week with so many new friends in nature!"

Serbia Project – August 27

27th August 2013

You stumble out of your tent and see – nothing. The whole camp is covered in fog and it is about to start raining.

But what's this? Everyone is standing outside dressed in running clothes and ready for the daily morning exercise! That used to be different on the first day.

During breakfast the expected rain started and wouldn't stop until the afternoon. So the plan for the day changed a bit and instead of painting more benches and shelters at another view point we went down into the village where a national park ranger gave a presentation about the animals in Tara. Then the Yeps took the chance to talk about their expeditions and explained in detail why exactly we're organizing this camp: to show the Serbian youths the beauty of their country and make this movement sustainable by teaching them how to realize the next camp on their own.

When the sun finally shone through the clouds we all went outside, made animal figures out of clay and drew logo drafts for the national park.

But the most exciting activity was still to come! At ten o'clock the group was suddenly told that we'd do a night hike!

In the beginning they were allowed to walk in groups of five without using any torch or headlamp but candles.

When the groups arrived at the first checkpoint they had to continue by themselves, all alone in the dark Serbian forest where there happen to be wolves and bears. Of course we didn't take the kids anywhere really dangerous but just knowing the fact that there are these animals in other places of the national park scared them quite a lot. And we even increased this feeling by cracking branches in the woods, making strange noises or suddenly jumping on the path.

As revenge some of the peer leaders scared the Yeps on the way back to the camp and we must admit that they succeeded quite well!

 

Serbia Project – August 26


26th August 2013


Rafting time! This is what all of the group was looking forward to – rafting on the river that marks the border between Bosnia and Serbia.


When a hole in one of the rafts was fixed with duck tape we were ready to set of into the strong currents and wild water. Well, not really. The water was as calm as a river can float and it was more of a relaxed rubber boat trip than an exciting rafting adventure. But still we all had fun, pushing others out of the boat, jumping into the water and paddling like crazy as we wouldn't have made any progress just by floating along.


The river itself if beautiful, crystal clear and we could see the ground at all times. Stunning!


The afternoon program was a hike to a spring that is said to be good for your eyes and skin. Until a couple of years ago the monks of the nearby monastery, which we also visited, only knew it.


Unfortunately from tomorrow on the weather forecast predicts strong rains so we're lucky that we more or less finished the work for the national park. It's only a pity for our planned barbecue on the last evening. Let's hope for the best!

Serbia Project – August 25


25th August 2013


In the beginning we were only a few YE’s, then the peer leaders joined us and now we are complete as the kids from the primary school arrived at lunch time.


Now it was the peer leaders turn to take responsibility and lead the team building activities!


The last couple of days they were still quite shy sometimes when we Yeps were around but now they behave completely different! Now they are the older ones, the ones who know how everything works here, the cooking, the camping, the morning exercises, the campfire. The peer leaders were suddenly so confident, open and working together as a big team to take care of the younger kids!


Before the kids arrived, the peer leaders were split up into groups again: one group hiked to another view point to paint more benches, the other group stayed back at the campsite and did brainstorming about future projects and small actions in Kraljevo. They came up with some great ideas and especially the ones that are normally rather quiet strongly participated in the discussion and had the chance to say their opinion.

We're very much looking forward to the action week in Kraljevo where we'll have a big clean up of the river bank, some presentations in the schools and hopefully a massive flashmob on the main square of the town!

Serbia Project – August 24


24th August 2013


Our task today was a bit different to the things we've done so far: for the next few days we'll work together with the national park rangers and paint benches, shelters and mark hiking trails. Our first working place was a beautiful viewpoint from where you can see the town of Bajina Basta and the surrounding mountains as well as the countryside of Bosnia.


The hike took us around two hours and lunch with delicious watermelons was very appreciated.


Painting the benches went very well and fast but still not quick enough so we got caught up in another thunderstorm and most of the peer leaders were soaking wet when we arrived back at the campsite.

Tomorrow the primary school kids will come from Kraljevo and join us for the second Ecocamp. Everybody seems to be pretty excited and ready to spend some more fun and productive days in Tara National Park!

Serbia Project – August 23

 

 


23rd August 2013


 


After long discussions the other evening unfortunately we had to decide to cancel the raid. For some of the guys it was too tough and they had bad knees, blisters and muscle aches. It was not an easy decision but since we want to work productively with them for another one and a half weeks we think it was the right decision.


We had a relaxed morning at the lake where we had camped the night before and went back to the campsite at the farm in the afternoon.


 


Serbian people always tell us they are crazy about food and cooking and when we watch the peer leaders preparing dinner you can truly see that. For more than five hours they sat on the floor in the kitchen tent baking pancakes on the camping stoves we brought from Switzerland. They put in so much work and dedication and the result was just delicious.

The day was finished off with another great campfire where the guys played the guitare and everyone else sang along. Great atmosphere and the pain and tough times of the raid were almost forgotten.

Serbia Project – August 22

22 August 2013

Three, two, one – GO!

Today the famous raid started, but not in the mountains of Switzerland but in Serbia! The group of peer leaders was split up into three different teams and first had to solve a problem at the campsite, which would allow the fastest group to go first.

The first checkpoint awaited them in a lush part of the forest in the village of Mitrovac where the teams had to navigate through a tree labyrinth with their eyes closed. The next game was situated at a beautiful viewpoint from where you can see Bosnia Herzegovina on the other side of a river.

One the most challenging exercises was the game "estimating quantities" which means that Livio gave the teams tasks like measuring 465g of beans just by using their hands. The weight was checked on a scale and for every mistake the team had to wait a couple of minutes before they could continue their way.

This made it more interesting because the teams that were not that fast could gain time when doing well in the games. As a result the three teams were very close to each other, sometimes they only had a time difference of around ten minutes.

The toughest part of the raid was a 2,5h steep uphill path through the forest. That's were group work was very important as some of the girls were struggling a bit. The boys carried two backpacks and when everyone reached the highest point of the day you could see their relief! But seriously, this point was really beautiful: after having hiked uphill through the forest for more than two hours you got onto an open field and saw the lake in the front, mountains in the back, a farm house and the traditional haycocks. Simply stunning!

The last part of the raid took the teams around two arms of the lake to finally arrive at the campsite. Even though everybody was very tired they were really happy that they made it!

It was a tough day for the peer leaders and for some it was the first time they ever hiked such a long distance.

Serbia Project – August 21

21th August 2013

Today was a real sports day! As always, Jule and Nora started of with a run in the morning before breakfast. Saskia then gave a workshop about project management and showed the peer leaders a basic guideline which can be applied to any project no matter if it is a clean up, an Eco camp or a volleyball tournament.
So the peer leaders' project was to build a volleyball field and work out a structured plan of matches.
In building the field they were really creative. We only had basics such as ropes, tent poles, duck tape and stones but the result was quite impressive and even though some more rain and a thunderstorm hit us again it's still up and ready to be used.
The tournament showed everybody that doing team sports is one of the best ways of forming a group and it was fantastic to see how everyone was motivated and putting in a lot of effort. (Even though nobody could beat Dima in terms of motivation and fighting!)
After a well deserved lunch it was workshop time again, this time Nora and Jule told the peer leaders about healthy nutrition which was put into action when the group cooked dinner in the evening.
After building a new toilet, which was absolutely necessary, we took the peer leaders into the forest for a game: capture the flag. In this game basically two teams hide in the forest and try to steal a flag from the other team. It was so much fun working on strategies, hiding behind trees or just running through bushes. To be a good team communication was the most important thing, we used signs like whistling, clapping or yelling secret codes. After two hours everyone was dirty, tired and hungry but full of excitement. For dinner we had some pasta with a delicious tomato sauce, which was really yummy.
Food tastes even better if you're hungry from having exercised!

Serbia Project – Day 4

20 August 2013

"Morning exercise in five minutes! "  the first tired faces appear at the tent doors. Maybe the peer leaders regret the late night yesterday! We started the day with a slow run in the hills around the camp. The peer leaders have different fitness levels, so we had to split up in two groups, everyone gave his or her best! Everyone suggested some stretches and we ran back to the camp in a slow pace.


The sun already provided us with heat, therefor we decided to hike to the lake for a swim. Kerstin found a really nice footpath through the forest the day before. From time to time we had a fantastic view over the turquoise lake surrounded by dark green forests. This path was an adventure for the peer leaders as it was steep and right through dense woods and high grass.


At the lake everyone went for a swim and the girls washed their hair in plastic bowls which was great fun for everyone! Three of the Yeps swam to the other side of the lake and back, it was quite hard as there was a strong current and a few waves but it felt great to have a nice workout!


After a two hours hike back to the camp we just arrived in time before the rain and thunderstorm hit us.
Preparing dinner was up to the peer leaders as a first exercise of group leading and team work. The result was an incredibly delicious dinner which we ate in one of the big tents because the rain got really strong and the thunderstorm was right above us.


Therefore everyone went to bed early to start the next day with another morning run led by Nora and Jule.
 

Mike is in a constant state of travel and adventure , so keep up to date on all his expeditions !