The Fifth Summer Camp for the Disabled in Italy
Expectations are high for the Order of Malta’s 33rd International Summer Camp for disabled youths to be held in Poland from 13th to 20th August.
Some 500 young people, of which 200 are disabled – with their volunteer companions – from over 20 European countries will arrive in the town of Piekary 15 kilometres out of Cracow. What awaits them is a remarkable holiday week of emotions and memorable experiences. There are many other Order of Malta associations worldwide organizing their own national camps, providing an experience which greatly enriches all those participating, on their own two feet or in a wheelchair.
The fifth Order of Malta’s Summer Camp Italia took place in the province of Siena, with its pines, its hills, its characteristic Crete Senesi and sense of unassailable peace. The San Fabiano Castle in Monteroni d’Arbia generously hosted the camp which maintained its proven organizational structure, both with regards to staff and 7-day programme. This year the group (consisting of 149 people, including 42 assisted guests) travelled to Siena for a solemn celebration in the church of San Girolamo in Campansi. Afterwards guests and accompanying persons were received by the Sovereign Contrada of the Porcupine, which greeted them with flag wavers. Following the visit to the museum with its standards, period costumes and trophies, a luncheon was offered in the Contrada’s dining hall. The day ended with a visit to the other contradas in the centre, the cathedral and the palio square, that this afternoon had even more reason to be called Piazza del Campo.
The camp continued with days of another nature, albeit always involving “immersions”. For example, the competition between the 10 teams in the various disciplines of the ‘Campiadi’, the Camp Olympics, and a close encounter with an ancient and fascinating art, that of the falconers, who exhibited in the shade of the castle tower. And then immersion in the green of the adventure park, with routes among the trees, mini golf and picnics. And finally, games, workshops and relaxation on the estate lawns.
The camp’s spiritual guides, Fra Stefano Cavazzoni and Don Alessandro Repossi, led the emotional silent night on Thursday. Fra Stefano also gave a talk on “Merciful like the Father”, a theme chosen to coincide with the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
The evening disco, one of the musts of the camp, was also a very popular attraction.
This year the Summer Camp Italia – organized by the Order of Malta’s three Italian Grand Priories with the Italian Relief Corps – had the pleasure of welcoming numerous guests and visitors, including Dominique de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel, Grand Hospitaller, and Fra’ Emmanuel Rousseau, member of the Sovereign Council.
The camp week flew by, but every year deep relationships are forged here that last a lifetime, because the shockwave that every edition generates in the hearts of its participants is unique, strong and ineradicable. The joy of being together, sharing such a pregnant and immanent experience as volunteers, of sadness for a journey that is ending: there is nothing that fills the heart more than a human experience in which you share a commitment towards your fellow creatures. In the summer camps devoting yourselves to others involves everyone, volunteers and guests.
We are already looking forward to Camp 2017…