Journeying with Youth and Caring for our Common Home are two of the Universal Apostolic Preferences set by the Society of Jesus in 2019. When I learned about the ECO Summer Camp – with these two Preferences at its heart – I thought it would be a good way to tune in to these dimensions that permeate all our work in mission.
From 25 August to 1 September, Lassalle-Haus, an educational center founded by the Swiss Jesuits, hosted the second edition of the ECO Summer Camp. It was an event for young adults in the context of sustainability and its global challenges.
The meeting’s aim is to broaden the horizons of the participants and strengthen an international network of young people who contribute to a real cultural change in environmental and social matters.
Connections, knowledge and contact with nature
More than 50 participants had an agenda full of activities. Each morning, they were offered different options to start the day: meditation, spiritual immersion in nature through the forest, or yoga, then breakfast, followed by presentations.
Participants had the opportunity not only to learn from outstanding speakers, but also to foster interpersonal growth through a conscious and innovative approach, combining self-reflection, excursions, fasting experience, sustainable cooking, theoretical inputs and contact with nature. Each day, the participants joined in group sharing to discuss the inputs they received. There were also several excursions to places that focus on innovation: a sustainable farm, a company that makes high quality household appliances, and a university research center.
Jesuit Valerio Ciriello, who initiated the program, shared his desire for the participants not only to acquire technical knowledge about the issues discussed, but also to forge lasting relationships with others. Thus, several activities were aimed at sharing the motivations, dreams and hopes of each participant. They also had the opportunity to promote their local culture through forms of artistic expression like music, poetry, and dance.
Fraternity, inter-generational dialogue and new horizons
Almost twenty countries were represented at the camp, which was characterized by a vibrant energy of care, good humor, and joy. In addition, this edition included older participants who contributed their experiences and insights on important issues such as active participation in the political sphere.
The program included the contribution of Jesuit Gäel Giraud, who offered an innovative perspective on the understanding of the economic system and the available devices necessary for ecological transition. Jesuit Peter Rožič, for his part, offered individual coaching sessions to the participants throughout the week.
On a personal level, this experience was very significant in showing the strength of the youth, their nonconformity and their concern for the challenges that await them. Now that I have been able to match names, faces, and countries of origin for all these young people, I am strengthened in my feeling of unity with them as one People of God.
I’m back at work now -but with a fuller heart, and with renewed optimism and joy.
Germán Muñoz Díaz