Yesterday was the camp fire evening and we enjoyed the fire and the dinner around the fire so much. In this high altitude in Mexico the evenings are quite chilly, so the fire did warm us comfortably. Earlier in the afternoon we had a very creative session where the challenge from Andrew McKenzie, our new Executive Secretary for Communication, was to creatively present new and innovative programmes to make it possible for the YMCA to engage with 2 million more young people around the world. As always the National General Secretaries went about it with lots of energy, loads of creativity and excellent sense of humor!
Andrew convinced us that we have it inside us, and the base rule is that it is not allowed to say: Are you crazy?
Kwabena, Gwenael and Sarah preparing for the creative challenge, with lots of humor and laughter. This is an energizing exercise!
Alexei from Russia is leading his group in the preparations, they are dealing with obstacles for creativity, what stops us from creating new ideas.
Jared and Adam are the Sleeping Giants being woken up by young people with new ideas and new needs and new challenges for the YMCA. Soon we were all dancing with the recently wake Giants. Watch the energy!
We are all in the audience and enjoying the performances before we step up and deliver our own contributions. This is truly participating theater!
Gwenael and Greg are demonstrating new and innovative programmes where the key challenges for young people are focused.
Norberto Rodriguez from Argentina is trying to offer YMCA support to a homeless Juan Simoes, sleeping on the street. On the side an alcoholic member of the group is struggling with his problems, but soon the YMCA is there with its new programmes!
Here people are struggling with obstacles to creativity, and they are forcefully reversed and given paper and markers to start a creative career. Quite successfully at the end, even if it is very much against their guts reactions!
The evening comes, and we sit around the camp fire like camp kids have always done, and we are treated like we were ordinary camp participants for a while, as we are writing our names, the names of our family, our fear and our love. Then we put the paper to the fire, and the energy is coming back through the heat and light.
Live music in the best Mexican tradition and food in the same tradition are being served with great hospitality, and we dance and eat and enjoy the great fellowship of National General Secretaries from all five continents. What a unique experience to be a part of this global friendship!
Our faces are warm and colored by the fire and we are singing and sharing and enjoying being at camp again!
Ingunn, Carlos, Hector, Mauricio, Raoul and the nose of Andres, I believe!
Thursday morning, the final day of the meeting and Raoul from Peru is giving us a great devotion. He starts us up with a balloon and we are trying to hand it from one to the next and get around the circle as fast as possible. We manage to do that in 27 seconds and Raoul is not satisfied, so he sends the balloon around again and this time we make it in 20 seconds. At this time Scott wants to try something different, and want to keep the balloon in his hand as we all, touch it as fast as we can. Of course the balloon quickly explodes, and so did we, in laughter! After that we watch ab beautiful video of Jesus being an invisible part of everybody’s lives. Great and moving and entertaining at the same time!
Andres is the bridge between two sets of chairs and are very prepared for the balloon as it is proceeding him!
Ian Green paints a nice picture of yesterday in his summary of what we experienced on Wednesday, poetic, beautiful and elegant.
Having been involved in the development of Russian YMCA for more than 20 years, I have followed the development of many Russian YMCA leaders. A young man called Alexei was my friend from the early 1990s, and now he has grown to become the National General Secretary of Russian YMCA and he is invited to be the key note speaker on Health, as one of our four strategic areas. He does that brilliantly, and some of his methods make us explode in laughter again, but a very pedagogically driven laughter and we understand better because we can laugh by surprise!
Jose is the newly appointed Cruise Director of the World YMCA and he is talking to us about Social Enterprises, everything from Alternative Tourism, production of Cook Books, Peace Coffee and YMCA voyages, and the title of his presentation is Sailing on the High Seas.
Slowly the camp fire is burning down and the day grows into night and we go to our camp cabins and find rest and sleep under the Mexican stars. Did I say Mexican stars? We may see them from Mexico, but they are universal property, of course, very much like the vision of the YMCA. Good night and sleep well. More tomorrow