International Summer Camp in Estonia 2023

The annual St John Summer Camp in Estonia aims to offer a joyful time to people with disabilities away from their everyday routine. It is also a valuable experience of social commitment and dedication for the volunteers. The guests enjoy an extraordinary week full of excursions, handicrafts, and sports, but first and foremost appreciation and assistance. The overall Johanniter/ St John spirit and enthusiasm of volunteers from Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Lithuania, Germany, the Netherlands, France, England and Canada contribute to the enduring success of the camp, creating a joyful atmosphere of charity and altruism.

In July, once more, the programme at the Talu campsite near Tallinn consisted of numerous different activities in which one-on-one care of the guests is central. The volunteers arrived one day in advance for an introduction to the camp and general preparations for the camp week before they were joined by the guests Here is what camp organiser Friedrich Kippenberg reports:

“Following on from last year, the ‘International St John Summer Camp in Estonia 2023’ was a great success. The number of participants increased by 15 to almost 60 and we can expect growing interest for next year’s camp.

This year’s main responsibility for the organisation was in the hands of Finland through Alexander Karlmann, who was supported by Adrian Ribbing from Sweden, Damiaan van Citters from the Netherlands and Friedrich Kippenberg from Germany.

Following the departure of Jarlin Hollo, who was the Estonian representative in the steering committee and has been involved in the camp every year since its inception in 2011, a search is on for a new Estonian representative in the camp leadership. On a positive note, renewed efforts to find Canadian volunteers were rewarded this year and we were able to welcome a representative to Tallinn. For the upcoming years, we are happy to expect again more volunteers from Canada.

Like all the volunteers, the guests were clearly enthusiastic about the summer camp and there were many happy faces during the varied week in the countryside about 20 km south of Tallinn.

The camp was again held on the grounds of the local church, consisting of overnight huts, two larger buildings with seminar rooms, a dining hall and the surrounding meadows with, among other things, a volleyball and football field.

As every year, there was a varied programme including excursions to the zoo, the adventure park or horseback riding lessons in the neighbouring village. In addition to other activities, such as a scavenger hunt, dance competitions or football games, we gathered for meals and prayers.

Each day ended with the canon ‘Laudate Omnes Gentes’, after which the guests were put to bed and later all the volunteers assembled at the campfire for a round of feedback on the day’s experiences.

The group quickly grew together, and everyone was aware of our mission during this beautiful summer camp. Our Estonian guests were to be given THE week of the year, which was impressively achieved with a lot of commitment and creativity and also with many new faces among the volunteers.

The steering committee would like to thank the Johanniter and St John people and JOIN for their help and support in organising the camp.

Another thank you goes to all the volunteers who made this year’s camp another wonderful one and we are looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible again at the next camp, 20th until 27th July 2024.”