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Last summer I joined a work camp, thanks to an Italian association called Lunaria. It took some effort, because I was late and some camps were full or there were too many Italians. However, I managed to join a work camp in Süderlügum, one of the most northern towns in Germany, with less than 2200 inhabitants.

Name:Chiara C.Alter:17Einsatzstelle:Süderlügum in the Northgerman forestInhaltliche Ausrichtung:Nature & Environment

I started my trip on 21st July, flying from Milan (where I met the only other Italian girl of my camp Emma) to Hamburg. There, we took a train to the main station, then to Niebüll and eventually to Süderlügum. Emma and I spent more than four hours talking, sharing our worries about the work we would do, how the other volunteers would be, if we would be able to speak only in English… At the Süderlügum station we met other volunteers and the woman who accompanied us to the camp, a very suggestive place surrounded by the forest: There was a big dorm and a building with a kitchen and a dining room, a barbecue zone and a wide meadow with a beach volley court, a football field, some benches and a ping-pong table.

The first day we got to know each other better by playing some funny games or just talking. From the following day, we started working in the forest with three forest guides five days a week, cutting trees or cleaning footpaths in the forest. Every afternoon we had free time and we spent it doing various activities, such as cycling to a big lake that was 15 minutes away from the house, or going to a swimming pool.

The weekend
On the first Saturday we went to the nearest big city, called Flensburg. We walked through the center and saw the most interesting places. We were having a great time, when, on our way to the station, it started to rain. We were late and it was the last train of the day, so we had to run through the rain and luckily we arrived on time. We jumped on the train and were soaking wet, but that run was one of the funniest things that I did at the camp.

On Sunday, we went to an island called Sylt, which we reached with a two hour trip on a very crowded train. The beach was fantastic and we also visited the city center, full of bars and shops: it was a great day!

The second week went by really fast as we worked every day. A Mexican girl and I had crafted a nice souvenir for us with a piece of wood. Some afternoons, I just went to a small lake, which was in the forest, but just a minute away from our house, and had a great time with Viri or Pedro, one of the Spanish volunteers.

The last night was terrible, just thinking that the experience was going to end made me very sad. We stayed awake until 3.30am and the next morning I woke up at 5.30am… it was very difficult to say goodbye to Viri, it was like saying goodbye to a part of my life that I will never forget. I went to the kitchen, where I took an envelope, in which anyone who wanted could leave a letter about the time that we spent together, and we could only read it after leaving. I started crying while I was saying goodbye to Pedro, who always was nice and kind to me. Even if he tried to cheer me up, I was so sad that I kept on crying all the way to Niebüll. There, I took the train to Hamburg and went to the airport. On the plane, I read the letters from my friends and I started crying again. I felt embarrassed, because it’s unusual for me to be that sensitive and there were lots of people around, but I couldn’t stop.

This experience changed me: now I feel more confident with my English, and I also know more about the forest and working. I will always remember all the card and dice games that I learned and the friendships that I found. I think that I grew a lot and I look forward to having another fantastic, interesting and funny experience like this.

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