Youth for Europe 2023
Like many haircuts, weddings and holidays in 2020, the scheduled English Youth for Europe meeting also fell victim to Covid postponement. This hiatus didn’t slow down any eagerness for the event however as seven EU countries flocked to the outskirts of Newbury to Thirtover Campsite to enjoy a typical ‘English Summer Camp’ experience. (Albeit with better than usual weather thanks to the Mid August heatwave).
The week kicked off with a treasure hunt which led participants around the canals and historic sites of Newbury Town Centre in search of clues. The day culminated with a meet and greet with the Mayor, who we saw again as an archery instructor during the next day’s event: a typical Sports Day! Participants were separated into groups and tasked with completing a gauntlet of challenges. Each game operated under the simple guise of a children’s activity but with a ‘Taskmaster’ inspired twist, including an egg-and-spoon race crossed with a three legged race. (you had to see it to believe it).
Day trips to Oxford and London let participants stretch their legs and explore some bustling cities. When everyone was back on the bus home my head started spinning when people recounted what they got up to. They say you can’t do London in a day, but they gave it a damn good shot. The final day’s water activities let the group drench each other during sports of dragon boating and kayaking. Once that energy subsided, a leisurely and pensive float down the River Avon capped off the week’s fun and games – thoughts of the long journey home began to germinate.
The evenings after each day’s activities offered everyone a chance to unwind and play games together – it’s also here where the warmest memories were made. Turns out a love for Uno and Mario Kart transcends all physical and language barriers, but several participants will certainly take home rules for new card games to play with their friends back home. Liquor lubricated social interactions further as the nights went on, resulting in plenty of merry making. A spontaneous Hungarian folk dance lesson to Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ was a pocket of madness that could only occur during a Youth for Europe meeting.
The only defined nightly activity was meal cooking, and once again each country was tasked to prepare a dish for all the other participants. Asking a small handful of young people to cook for a large group each evening might sound like a recipe for disaster. In reality though, dinner times always went smoothly and morphed into an honest opportunity for everyone to learn about each country’s cuisine and eating culture. Potatoes served as the weapon of choice for many dishes, but between German stews and Spanish tortillas, all counties utilized them in unique and delicious ways. The French and the Belgians had an unspoken rivalry on who could make the best crepes… from a hungry onlooker’s perspective there were only winners in this conflict.
And the Italians made pasta. Classic.