Czech Youth Summer Camps: More than playing games in nature
Keywords:Summer camps, outdoor programmes, outdoor and environmental activities
Summer camps for children and youth are organized in different countries around the world. These camps vary in length and also in the sport or outdoor activities framing them. Czech summer camps, tábory, have a long history dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. Neuman, Turčová and Martin (2007) describe the specific cultural development of tábory, summer camps for children and youth in the Czech Republic with an anthropological focus. This current article examines the camp conditions, preparation and the role of camp leaders in the holistic program implementation of the turistika activities and outdoor games for these programs. It presents the findings of a survey of 69 leaders of the four main not-for-profit youth organisations undertaking summer camps in the Czech Republic: ATOM (Association of Touristic Youth Clubs), Junák (scouting), Pionýr, and Liga lesní moudrosti (woodcraft). The findings highlight the important role of the qualified, experienced and intrinsically motivated volunteer leaders who spend the entire preceeding year preparing these two to three week summer camps held in basic conditions. The holistic program design provides a pedagogical scaffolding and then culmination for the group of children, who have played outdoor games in natural settings and taken part in turistika activities throughout the year. The implications of these findings are that the ‘summer camp’ activities are unique to the Czech Republic and provide opportunities for children to ‘experience the natural environment’, and can also provide inspiration for the scaffolding and development of outdoor adventures and environmental programs internationally.
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