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First Camp 2020 at Hyvärilä

In the last week of July, we finally had the opportunity to experience a camp at Hyvärilä. From Tuesday morning until Saturday noon, we spent every day with the group.

The camp for heartdisease children and their families gave us a good insight of youth work at a Finnish youth centre. Around 40 people in total joined the camp and programme. The age range between the children has been huge, between the youngest and oldest more than 10 years.
We have joined our youth worker Sanna for the whole week, from morning until afternoon, to get used to the schedule and activities offered.

Even if the timetable was already finished and decided on, we had many opportunities to give the camp and activities some personal touch. Starting how to lead a group of 20 people playing Hyrlinki or which outdoor games to play.

As volunteers it is our project’s task to support camps (/camp schools) during the two seasons in spring and autumn. On the one hand, it is about helping out preparing games and participating in those and on the other hand, it is about introducing Finnish youngsters to English communication and a different culture.

During this camp, we had the chance to do both. Some activities we did together with Sanna, others we did on our own with a part of the group because the group was spilt to do different activities.

The activities schedule were very various.


We have started with nature arts on Tuesday morning. In small groups, mainly as one family or two, the participants could create a piece of art from plants and things they could find around them – in the nature. They chose a name and a story around their piece of arts.

At the end of the nature art slot the group worked on a spiral out of pine cones. This marked the end of the activity. Each of the participants had to find two cones to place them making up a spiral. The starting point was marked by a small flower bouquet I have made out of fun while the groups made their art projects.

After having lunch, the group was split. One group painted mugs and the other group played Hyrlinki. Elisa and I have instructed the group playing Hyrlinki (after having learnt how to play it around one hour before ;-)). It has been fun watching the teams playing. Elisa and I have been instructor, motivator, cheerleader and judges at the same time while sharing the tasks.

Later the groups switched their activities. After a short instruction how to play Hyrlinki by me, Elisa took over and guided the group through the game while I wrote down the points on our nicely prepared board.


On Wednesday morning, the group was split for activities again. One part of the group went for paddling with our lovely instructor Arto. While the other group was surprised by a group problem solving game. Therefore, Sanna made up a crossword puzzle connected to finding hints in the labyrinth. Upstairs Navetta, Hyvärilä has some kind of activity park including a labyrinth, a bouldering wall and place for some other games.

We have placed small bags in the dark labyrinth for the children to find. When they got a bag in the colors blue or green, they got a hint for the crossword puzzle. Red and yellow bags however did not gave any hints.

The children had a lot of fun finding the hints.

After lunch, one of the two groups started making Karelian pies. Meanwhile, the other group did climbing at PielisAreena with Arto.

Making Karelian pies made the most effort, even if we have been three people making this activity possible. All the small preparations before, during and after the making were demanding and had to be on point. After the first group made and eat their pies, the second group appeared (switched the activity from climbing) and everything had to be prepared on point again. Gladly, there was a more than 30 minutes break in between.


It has been our shortest day with the camp group. The programme took place in the morning for a couple of hours before lunch. After that, the group had its own plans.

That day, we made the group problem solving aka crossword puzzle labyrinth game with the group that has paddling the day before.


Friday did not feel like a Friday. Usually, you slow down and start your weekend. But that Friday was different. It was full of games and activities. And the camp week was not over yet.

The day started with geocaching. As usually, we met Sanna for having a short briefing regarding the day and to prepare geocaching. We had an introduction of how the caches are called and where to find them. After Sanna has instructed the whole group, eight smaller groups were built and received a (GPS) gadget to be able to find the different spots.
Around Hyvärilä, there are around seven caches. Some are easier to find than the others.

The first spot was found all together, to see how it works. Then the groups were send out to find different caches, depending on the difficulty level. Groups with small children got easier ones than groups with older children. Meeting point was at the entrance of Navetta. Every time, one group has found one spot they could return to Navetta and got another spot to find. Here, Sanna made sure that the groups did not cross their ways to not take away the fun of searching.

After lunch, the group was split in two groups again. One group played Kyykkä (a traditional Karelian game, where wooden sticks are thown – theoretically we have an idea how to play but practically, still no clue). At the same time, the other group was kept busy playing outdoor games by us.

We prepared three games we played for around 1.5 hours (twice!). The first one was “Where is my chicken?”. Here the farmer (one person on one side of the playing field) tries to protect his/her chicken. All other players have to run to catch up the chicken while the farmer shows his/her back and shouts “Where is my chicken?”. Every player that is caught moving after the farmer turns his/her face towards the running players, has to return to the opposite side of the playing field again. The game is won, whenever the chicken could be brought to the starting point of the players by walking backwards and hiding the chicken behind their backs. After the chicken was caught up by the players, the farmer is allowed to guess who stole the chicken (once every time he/she turns around after having said: “Where is my chicken?”)

The second game was “Sheep and Wolf”. The wolf hunts the sheep. Everywhere are rocks (consisting of two people). The sheep might hide next to one person of the rock. A new rock is created. The person not standing directly next to the former sheep becomes the new wolf and hunts the former wolf (now sheep). It’s a game with a huuuuuuge fun factor. It’s about running and reacting quickly.

The third game was a small running competition between two teams which could be modified very easily to make it harder or more fun. Each team is split into half. One part of the group is on one side, the other half on the other. The first person in line on the left side starts by picking a small bag from a bucket, running until the middle. Placing the bag on the floor, skipping a rope once and running again to place the bag in the bucket on the other side. The first person in line on the right side starts when the person form the other side arrived and placed its bag on the bucket. After picked a small ball from the bucket, the person starts running towards the middle, placing the ball on the flow, jumping like a frog as high as possible, picking up the ball and running straight to the other side where the next person with a bag waits to start.

After a break, we played the same games with the other group which played Kyykkä before. And the day finally finished!


The camp group had to leave, so the programme was short. We played camp olympics.

The camp group was split in four teams. They called themselves: the tigers (tiikerit), dandelions (voikukat), leopards (leopardit) and cheetahs (gepardit).

The first game was one to find five wooden pieces having the colour of your team. The difficulty was that the wooden pieces were upside down. Only the running person being in line could turn around one wooden piece. If the colour was right, the player could take the piece. If not, the piece stayed there still turned upside-down.

The second game was passing a table tennis ball with spoons to every person of the team once. Touching the spoon or the ball with hands was not allowed.

The third game was a puzzling game. Each team had its own corner, while Sanna, as the instructor, stood in the middle and presented the pattern to be made by the groups with the puzzle pieces they had.

Last but not least, the groups were given a couple of minutes to prepare a short performance of their team. It could be dancing or something different.

The feedback round was followed by sharing small gifts with the winning team and every participant.

Finally, the (working) week was over! After all the (sports) activities it was time to slow down and to relax. But it has been one of the best experiences we could have had!


Published by olgaschesler

ESC Volunteer in Finland since February 2020 for 9 months.

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