Joy was the overriding sensation, together with a great will to live, forgetting one’s disability for at least a week.
500 young people – half of them disabled – came from 23 countries to participate in the 28th Order of Malta International Summer Camp from 23rd to 30th July. While some had just to travel a few kilometres others, like the Americans and Australians, had to face a long and difficult journey.
At Lignano Sabbiadoro, north-east Italy, in a tumult of languages and colours, participants enjoyed a week of sporting events, cultural visits and spiritual renewal. The bathing activities alternated with excursions to art cities such as Venice, Padua and Aquileia, entertainments and prayer. All this was made possible by the commitment of the over 100 Order of Malta Italian volunteers who organised and managed the camp.
When visiting the camp, the Order of Malta’s Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing wanted to meet and show his appreciation to the volunteers “my thanks to you all for the great work you have carried out: what I have seen is simply fantastic”.
On 27th July, in the presence of all the participants, Cardinal Paolo Sardi, Patron of the Order, celebrated mass in the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua together with the Order’s chaplains present in the camp.
The international summer camps for the disabled organised over the past 27 years (the most recent in Austria in 2008, Spain in 2009 and Great Britain in 2010), provide an excellent opportunity for participants as well as a unique social service experience. The camps are also a great challenge for learning to live together, collaborating and working as a team, despite cultural and language barriers and the difficulties caused by the various disabilities. They offer the possibility of meeting and exchanging experiences with other young people from Europe and beyond.
Hungary will host the next Order of Malta International Camp in 2012. Joy and the will to live will once again take centre stage.