IN-Meeting, Talk on HöViLand – 11th January 2023

As our speaker today we welcomed Andreas Hildebrand, one of the main organizers of our charity this year, HöVi-Land. He had said right from the beginning that his English wasn’t so good, so we ‘granted him the luxury’ of speaking in German. This was certainly the right decision, since Andreas had so much to tell us, and he was so casual in his presentation, we had so many questions that we sort of lost track of time.    I’ll try and give you a very brief survey of what Hövi-Land is all about. It’s a 3 week summer day camp in Cologne, located in a specific area between Höhenberg and Vingst, traditionally workers’ parts of the city. It’s Ökumenisch, supported by both the Protestant and the Catholic churches. The idea of the day camp  is to give these kids, who might not be able to leave the city during  school vacation, a chance to experience something special, whether it be trips outside the city or even within the city, handicrafts projects, music and theatre. There are no strict enrollment criteria except being a resident of the area.  This all started 30 years ago with 50 youngsters and has grown to include up to 500 kids. There are 5 organizers on the payroll, the rest, several hundred, are volunteers, very often young adults aged 18-25 who themselves had been to Hövi-Land. The children, ages 6 to 14, come to the campsite, a tent city, every day, where they are in a stable group with 4 or 5 leaders, who have developed a programme for the group. Each group has its specific tent, the group remains together for the 3 weeks and does various projects together. In this way there is also the social learning component which is very important for this experience. fThe day is started with a breakfast and there is a kitchen tent, where the midday meal is prepared fresh every day. We all gasped at the thought of preparing food for 500 hungry kids!       Andreas gave us such an interesting look into this whole idea of Hövi-Land that we of course want to visit it this summer. Then there will be more to report. But there is also the website, giving you detailed information about what happened during the 2022 summer camp, with its motto Regenwald: After the meeting we agreed with Andrea that we would visit HlVi-Land on Wednesday, 4th July, to meet Pfarrer Meurer at the Church St. Theodor for a guided tour and walk over to the camp afterwards for lunch and a tour around there.

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