Winter youth camp in Quebec: exploring human capacities

Some of the participants of the 2013 Winter Youth Camp in Quebec. © Gregory Fortin-Vidah Quebec, Quebec, 16 January 2013 (CBNS) — Some thirty youth between 11 and 16 years old spent a part of their winter holiday exploring human capacities and capabilities at the first Regional Winter Camp of the Baha’i Institute of Quebec, which took place at the Quebec Baha’i Centre, from 1 to 6 January.

Organized around the theme "Arts, media and the human being," the camp brought together young people from all corners of the Province: from Baie-Comeau, Victoriaville, Gatineau, Amos, Montreal, Val-d’Or, Laval, La Prairie, Saguenay, and Val-David.

The material studied during the camp was drawn from a curriculum that aims to develop young people’s capacities for service. They learned about the powers of the human spirit and how they apply to topics such as music, advertisement and television.

In addition to study and discussion, the youth explored the human powers of sight, hearing, speech, and creation through various complementary activities. Many of these activities culminated in their producing short articles for a collaborative website specially designed for this occasion: http://camp2013.institutbahaiqc.org (in French).

The youth also attended various art workshops, including one on creating music and literature. They also participated in outdoor activities, including a GeoRally through Quebec City, a trip to the observatory in Quebec City, and a visit to the Museum of Civilization to see the exhibit “We, the First Nations.”

In order to develop their capacity to contribute to their community, the youth also organized an “Oasis of Peace,” on the second to the last day of the camp. It was a venue for gathering, praying and singing together in a peaceful atmosphere. Five “Oasis of Peace” gatherings were held simultaneously: three in the homes of Quebec families that were hosting youth who had come from other cities, one in the neighbourhood where some of the participants live, and another at the Quebec Baha’i Centre.

The camp was animated by a dozen youth and young adults. Gregory Fortin-Vidah, the coordinator of the camp, especially enjoyed spending the week with the youth and learning alongside them. He commented that it was “very inspiring to see the youth build friendships with one another, hear their thoughts, often very profound, and to witness them discover new interests.” Gregory cited as an example the keen interest some of the youth developed in slam poetry following a workshop held during the camp. “The workshop was such a success that the youth continued to compose slams throughout the evening and during the following days, and constantly threw new verses at each other. I found it really fun to see how greatly affected they were by it,” he recalled.

One of the 15-year-old participants from Valleyfield said: “I enjoyed the camp. I discovered within myself a talent in philosophy… perhaps! I made new friends, that is for sure. I found that everyone was warm, and I do not feel like anyone was judging anyone else. I really liked it!” Another participant, aged 11, from Victoriaville, is already excited about coming back next year: “I really liked the activities, the people, I liked it all!”

The Baha’i Institute of Quebec plans to hold another Winter Camp next year, but the youth will not have to wait that long because another Regional Camp will take place during the summer.