First Years Camp: Fostering Community and Global Connections

Written by: UWC Costa Rica
This is a summary of what was experienced during the first-year camp, a space where students could strengthen their bonds, break stereotypes and expand their social circles.
In the nature provided by the mountains of the province of Heredia, January 24 and 25, 2024, marked a significant milestone with the celebration of the First Year Camp. This event fulfilled the purpose of integrating our community and resonated with the principles that define UWC Costa Rica: empathy, reciprocity, and accountability.

The central objective of the Camp was clear: to create a space where first-year students could strengthen their bonds, break stereotypes, and expand their social circles. 

All the activities carried out during these two exciting days fostered bonding among the '25 generation because it will be an essential skill to face the months ahead and the challenges they will face.

Without a doubt, nature was a determining factor in practicing our value of reciprocity - an exchange of learning, support, and kindness to create personal and academic safe spaces. 

Student Anastasia Kaneli from Greece shared her impressions after living in this Camp intensely:

"I think that the firstie camp has a lot of things to teach each of us. The purposes of every activity are to make us feel as a community even though we may not feel close to everyone, to break some of the stereotypes created around people, and to find the opportunity to open our social circle more. I think that is the perfect time because we know each other enough to not feel uncomfortable but not that much so we can feel that we are with our people and can trust them, which the firstie camp helps us build. The fact that we have to work with people we don't know very well or maybe at all in difficult conditions contributes to making connections and interactions that otherwise we would not have thought about. My personal experience was very positive because I was able to find my role in the group and understand what I can do in this small society/community. I also enjoyed how we analyzed some of the community's behaviors, even though sometimes they were not as expected. Small details during the games were making the whole experience even better.

I have the feeling that after the first year's Camp, our community connected and matured more as a community and as individuals too."

Gustavo Buezo from Honduras, UWC 25, expressed his gratitude for his enriching and reflective experience during the Camp. 

"The first-year Camp was simply amazing, and I am happy to have been a part of it; without a doubt, it was an experience full of reflection but also action. Being able to get closer and get to know everyone from my generation is priceless. It is now a beautiful memory full of learning, which I will take with me wherever I go."

Yirui Yan, from China, emphasized the importance of the Camp as a bonding time that allows everyone to step out of their comfort zone, regardless of their personality. 

"Firstie camp is a bonding time that really allows everyone to step out of their comfort zone, extrovert or introvert, and with the healthy and supportive atmosphere. No one was left out, and we all took on all the challenges that we succeeded in. The bonding time allows us to learn more about each other's unique personality and empowers empathy, compassion, and love."

The collective analysis of community behaviors during the activities was eye-opening and demonstrated the growing maturity of these students. Seemingly small details in the games contributed to an overall enriching experience.

In summary, the First Years Camp at UWC Costa Rica not only fulfilled its goal of integration but also left an indelible mark on the mindset and connection of our community. More than an event, it was a transformative experience that strengthened our bonds and equipped us to embrace the learning journey ahead. 

May these experiences guide us toward a stronger and more connected community in keeping with UWC's Costa Rica core principles and values.
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