During the years a number of summer camps for the Palestinian youth have been held by Ajial. During these camps young people from the different refugee camps in Lebanon have been participating to shed light on and discuss their rights and their future.
The summer camps have been allowing the youth to create new acquaintances and building new social relations with importance for their future lives. The long duration of the camps releases the necessary time to carry out a variation of activities, from which participants gain new skills and realise abilities and qualifications of which they may not have been aware before. Within Ajial and amongst the young activists these camps are seen as one of the most important activities in Ajial SCC. Today, Ajial still arrange summer camps every year with different topics and participation from a diverse group of young people.
The camps are remarkably significant for the variation of young participants they include from different camps, countries and regions, with various backgrounds and nationalities and sometimes even contradicting ideologies.
The Agenda of the Camps
A work agenda is prepared for the camp activities including workshops, lectures, dialogues, arts (such as; theatre, drawing, and handicrafts), exchanging of experiences and information, in addition to other activities as trips, parties and sports. Usually a closing ceremony aims at illuminating all the activities accomplished during the camp.
Many talents and skills have been uncovered during these programs. The improvement of social interaction and communication, as well as the ability to express, discuss and cooperate, have been major outcomes of these camps. The summer camps furthermore sustain a continuous close relation between the young people and the daily work of the organisation.
The following describe the variation of the different summer camps:
Summer Camps (Domestic Gatherings): These camps, gathers Palestinian youngsters living in Lebanon (from the refugee camps and outside). The aim is that an average of one third of the participants must be new members who have not been participating in previous camps. To achieve full benefit of the camps, they are put into a framework that includes follow-up activities and campaigns in the youth centres.
The National Camps: These camps included Palestinian people from various countries, mainly: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip. During the years, camps including Palestinian youngsters from France, Russia, the Emirates, Canada, Denmark, and the United States were as well accomplished. The participants of these camps made a decision to transform the title of the camps from “Gathering of Palestinian Youths” into “Palestinian Youths Together despite Borders”. Approximately 200 young people have been participating in these camps.
Palestinian-European Camps: These camps include Palestinian and European youngsters. The first camp was in 2001. It encompassed Palestinian youngsters from Lebanon and Syria, and Europeans from Belgium and France. The second was in 2004, which gathered Palestinians from Lebanon and Jordan, with French and Italian youngsters. These camps are considered as one of the most important activities by the SCC-Ajial. The results of these camps have been extremely positive, as they have been providing great opportunities of mutual exchange of cultures and experience.
The European delegations have been visiting the Palestinian refugee camps to know more and get a better view on the difficult situation of the refugees in Lebanon. Palestinian youngsters have at times been hosting their European counterparts in their homes, reinforcing long-lasting friendships.
Undoubtedly, both parts (Palestinian and European youth) were affected by the cultural and behavioural values of one another.
The Lebanese-Palestinian Camp: This has so far only been a one-time experience in 2004, where 11 institutions and youth organizations were represented. Many of these institutions and organizations were strongly affiliated with Lebanese political parties and Palestinian factions, having their ideological differences. However, relations of appreciation and respect were soon established thus paving the way for democratic and constructive dialogues on various issues of concern to both parts, including civil and social rights for the Palestinians in Lebanon.