Mountaineering Club Domžale organized an international youth climbing camp from the 7th to the 13th of August. The camp was organized under the project “Staying safe in the world of youth climbing”, which is co-funded by the European Union under the Erasmus+ program.
The camp took place at the biggest sports climbing area in Slovenia, Kotečnik. We stayed at the Kmetija Tratnik, where we slept in tents and indoors, and they also took care of all of our food, which was abundant and absolutely delicious. There were a total of 34 children and youth and 15 adults (instructors) in the camp. We were lucky with the weather and we managed to follow our plan throughout the week.
We spent Sunday afternoon building tents, getting acquainted with the camp, and getting to know each other. Since we came from 5 different countries it was easier for children to hang out with their national teams than to talk in English with other climbers. But we hoped this would change later in the week.
Like all the next days in the week, we spent Monday climbing until the afternoon. Since we got »lunch packages« every morning, we had time for climbing until dinner. In the evening, we played games to get to know each other. As we all know, repetition is the mother of learning, so we went quite a few rounds around the circle. Almost 50 names are hard to remember 🙂 We also had a presentation on English climbing communication with your climbing partner and learned English climbing vocabulary, to make climbing safer in the following week.
On Tuesday, we started climbing within mixed teams, that we constructed based on children’s climbing grades. Split into four groups, we visited different sectors of Kotečnik, from the nearest (15-minute walk) to the furthest (45-minute walk). After the dinner, we had a lecture from Slovenian instructor Bor, who was one of the youngest members of the Slovenian National Youth Alpine Climbing Team (SMAR). With his slides, he took us on his expeditions and shared his experiences in sport and alpine climbing.
Since we were climbing hard and long every day, we decided to have a half-rest day on Wednesday. We still went climbing in the morning but after lunch, we packed our towels and bathing suits and drove to Velenje lake. There we enjoyed swimming, eating ice cream, sunbathing and just being lazy. After the return to the camp and a big dinner, we had another lecture. This time the Hungarian instructor Viktor presented his latest expedition in Pakistan, which happened just weeks before the camp. We could all see the work that goes behind organizing an expedition and doing alpine climbing in unknown areas. It was interesting for the children since most of them are only familiar with sport climbing. Even though it was late and the children were climbing hard every day, some of the kids wanted to try night climbing. So a group of Slovaks and Czechs decided to visit the nearby climbing crag Tremerje and climb with the help of headlamps.
On Thursday, all four teams continued to crush on the wall and a lot of participants had already climbed a number of their highest graded routes. One team decided to go check out another climbing crag, Kamnik, while others found plenty of appropriate routes in Kotečnik. After dinner, we had an exciting visit from the Slovenian mountain rescue team, who also brought two dogs with them. They presented their work and their equipment, demonstrated the searching of the person with their dogs, and also gave us a few important tips on how to stay safe in the mountains and while climbing. As the last act of the day, we started to play a large game called »Killer with a peg«. From now on you could see people ambushing each other in the toilets or trying to get their victim in a lonely spot, just to kill them with the clothespeg.
On our last day, Friday, we saw a couple of raindrops for the first time in a week. Some of the teams climbed uninterrupted, some of them changed climbing crags in the middle of the day and some of them used the rain to practice the technical maneuver of abseiling. This light rain definitely didn’t stop us and we climbed until dinner. After the last dinner, which was pizza from a brick oven, we lighted a campfire, played some guitar, and hung out until quite late. It was our last evening after all 🙂
We were wakened up by light rain on Saturday, so we hurried and packed up our stuff and tents before the heavy rain. We had a ceremony for the best climbers and best peg-killers, took some photos, hugged all of our new friends, and departed toward our home countries.
The whole week went by very quickly and luckily without major problems. We climbed 749 routes, visited 5 different climbing crags (Kotečnik, Slomnik, Kamnik, Stari grad Celje, Tremerje), and learned some new things. The kids were already asking where the next camp is going to be, but this project is ending and we haven’t made the plans for the coming years yet. We will see 🙂
More info about the meeting and results is in the attached report.