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Estonian youngsters living abroad to attend summer camps in Viljandi County


For the 16th year running, the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA) is organising Estonian language and culture camps for young people with Estonian roots living outside of Estonia. With the help of its partner NPO HeadEst, a total of 120 youngsters will be attending four camps over the summer.

This year’s camps, which are designed for youngsters with an Estonian background aged 13-18, will be taking place at Venevere Holiday Centre in Viljandi County. They will be attended by 88 young foreign Estonians, supported by 32 of their local Estonian peers, who will help them with their communication in Estonian and introduce them to youth activities in the country. “The camps are very inclusive,” said Jana Tondi, the head of language and cultural immersion at MISA. “Quite a few of the attendees have taken part more than once, so an effective set-up has developed and there are more things for them to do. Previous experience enables them to participate more openly and more creatively, and that encourages them to present new ideas. The now-traditional camp music video and camp newspaper are just two examples of that.”

Four 10-day camps will be held this summer. The first has already taken place, being held in mid-June. It was designed for youngsters who speak no Estonian or understand only a little of the language. The camp was attended by young Estonians from Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Turkey and Finland. “They really stuck together, the kids at the first camp,” said Epp Adler, a member of the management board of HeadEst. “Normally the differences in how well they speak or understand Estonian make them shy and lead to barriers between them, for example between the kids who speak English and those who speak Russian – but this time we had kids taking part from the UK and USA who also speak Russian. So thanks to their interesting backgrounds they bridged the language divide without any problems!”

The second camp is being held from 28 June-8 July, while the third camp will run from 18-28 July. Both are designed for youngsters who speak Estonian at an intermediate level or above. Young people will be coming to the remaining camps this year not just from the countries listed above, but also from Sweden, Norway, Mexico, Spain, Ireland, Morocco, Italy, France, Portugal, Germany, Hungary and Austria. Close to 70% of the participants in the first three camps are attending for the first time. “Most of those taking part in the fourth camp, which will be held from 3-13 August, have been to one of our camps before,” Tondi explained. “It will also be attended by youngsters who speak Estonian fluently.” 

This year’s camp programme includes three excursions: a nature expedition, a cultural outing and a trip to Tallinn. The expedition will take the attendees on a half-day trek through bogs and forests, with a choice of destination between Parika bog and nature reserve or Soomaa National Park. The cultural outing will give the youngsters the chance to visit Olustvere Manor and its park or Viljandi and Põltsamaa. The campers will also be treated to a daytrip to Tallinn, during which they will visit Mektory at Tallinn University of Technology, the Estonian Open Air Museum and the Old Town.

A total of 150 youngsters living abroad registered to take part in the 2016 camps via the Integration Foundation website. The costs of accommodation, catering, transport, teaching work, excursions and activities at the camps are covered by the foundation from the finances of the ‘Countrymen programme 2014-2020’ of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education and Research.

For further information please contact:

Jana Tondi
Head of language and cultural immersion,
Development Centre of MISA
Telephone: +372 659 9069