Nestled in the foothills of the Italian alps is a special place where children from SOS Children’s Villages across Europe have spent their summers enjoying the outdoors and forming life-long memories.
Thanks to the vision of SOS’ founder, Hermann Gmeiner, he wanted SOS children to have the chance to experience life outside their village, and meet others from different cultures and regions. He found the perfect spot for this and in 1953 a very modest camp was set up in Caldonazzo, Italy.
For more than 65 years now, the camp has welcomed SOS children and youth over the summer months. In July and August, the camp hosts a variety of groups from SOS Children’s Villages, with 900 children and youth getting the opportunity to spend their holidays here this year. The camp also welcomes volunteers from the SOS community around the world to help support the SOS Children’s Villages staff. This year, SOS Canada’s very own intern Taylor was part of the camp’s support team.
The camp offers a wide range of activities for SOS children and youth to participate in, including water activities, creative workshops and outdoor activities like hiking. The camp fosters the children’s interest in sports, the outdoors and the arts, while also helping them to learn new skills and enjoy a summer break. Most importantly, the camp is a place for young people to make new friends, experience new cultures and make memories that will last a lifetime.
“The main purpose of Caldo is to give the children the freedom to enjoy the nature and holidays together with other children from their own villages or with new friends from other countries. Children understand each other, even if they don’t speak the same language,” said Carmen, SOS- Feriendorf Caldonazzo Director.
Despite the language differences between the SOS children and youth, the camp makes every effort to ensure each person feels comfortable and welcomed. The camp’s translators and staff work together to encourage the children to express themselves and get to know other kids from different countries.
Taylor was part of the creative team, helping to guide the kids at the camp to express their creativity through arts and crafts, dance and theatre. Taylor, who has a background in dance, developed a water dance program and was also active in producing the creative festivals.
For Taylor, one of the many highlights was the camp’s children’s rights week. The children and youth were asked to reflect on what freedom and family mean to them. Together, they created a large banner with their handprints where they wrote why freedom and family are important to them and for all children.
For Taylor, the camp represents everything that is special and important about SOS’ work. “Being there for each other, being accountable to each other and most importantly just spending time with the children and young people was amazing. Living the values of SOS and seeing first hand the impact of this organization was life changing,” she says.
Taylor’s experience at the camp only reinforced why she continues to support SOS Children’s Villages and why the work of caring for and empowering vulnerable young people is so important. To sum up her experience at the camp, Taylor says, “I loved every moment of it.”
Canadians wishing to help vulnerable children are encouraged to sponsor a child, sponsor a Village or make a one-time donation. Your support will change the lives of orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children. Please help today.