International Youth Camp
'All the boundaries disappeared - it was amazing'
The speed with which international boundaries were forgotten at the Lions International Youth camp amazed Bethlehem College student Daniella Schroder.
Daniella, head girl at the college this year, was one of 4l students and young people from around the world to be part of the international camp based at Rotorua’s Lake Okataina Education and Recreation Centre over the summer holiday period.
The only other participant she had met before the camp was an Italian student her family had hosted for three days prior to its start.
Those on the camp were from Austria, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Brazil and Australia, with about a third from New Zealand.
“We were from seven different countries but it was as though we were all from the same country and we’d known each other for ever - all the boundaries disappeared and it was amazing how we could come together as one big family. I know it’s a cliché but it’s true, and that was one of my personal highlights," says Daniella.
It must be music to the ears of the organisers, with one of the purposes of the international camp the encouragement of interaction between young people from different countries.
Camp co-ordinator, Bethlehem-Te Puna Lions Club president Stu Gray, says the students had only been together for three days before they had to put on a performance at a marae in Opotiki. He says it is a measure of the success of the camps that they were able to do such a great job in such a short timeframe.
The camp promotes a spirit of understanding among people of the world, to exchange cultures, ideas and stories about their countries and share the Kiwi way of life, he says.
Daniella was invited to take part in the camp after winning the district round of the annual Lions speech maker competition.
She says she had no hesitation in accepting.
"It was too good an opportunity to pass up for me because I have never actually done a lot of the activities the North Island has to offer.”
Among those activities were the Luge at Rotorua, Zorbing, jet-boating, kayaking at Waimarino and the Swoop (left) at Agroventures.
A marae stay was also a highlight for almost all the students even though it came about as the scheduled beach camp was cancelled due to bad weather.
It wasn’t like any other marae stays Daniella has experienced.
“It was something completely different for me and even more so for the others," she says.
"It was the first time I had been on a marae with people who have never experienced it before and it really hit me how different it must be and how interesting it must be to them.”
When the students visited Waimarino, they drove past her home and Daniella says she was proud to be able to show off “my part of the world".
Although the camp lasted just 10 days, Daniella says it was incredibly difficult and sad saying goodbye to everyone.
“I have made friends for life and now have contacts all over the world. Sometimes you get the chance to take a step outside of your comfort zone and what you are comfortable with and I am amazed at the impact other people can have on you. I have learned that every single person has a story to tell.”
She said the camp had a profound effect on her outlook on life and she believed it would help her in her role as head girl. The experience will help her as she goes into her final year at college willing to "extend out to people I may not know that well rather than stay in the same old ways’’.
The annual camp is open to young people between the ages of 17 and 21 with each sponsored by a Lions Club in their home country.
"They were outstanding ambassadors for their country," says Stu, who added the students "got on well with each other and when there were duties to do they got stuck in and did it - they were a brilliant bunch of young people".
Story by Stuart Whitaker/Bay News
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