I’m Silia and the first VEFA/DFÖJ volunteer at Camping Le Belvédère. I am 19 years old and left Germany right after graduating. As for most volunteers that arrive here, the protection of the environment played a big role in my life. Here at the camping I am given time to deepen my knowledge of sustainability and intercultural and communal living.
Let’s start from the beginning though:
Arriving at Camping Le Belvédère was… to say the least: chaotic. Every week at the camping holds completely new experiences for the volunteers and it just so happened that I came at a time when everyone was incredibly busy.
First impressions were strong and ambiguous.
Loud crowds of 40 people, a lot of mess and stuff lying around, completely new senses, food and habits and a small room with an even smaller bed to live in. In the beginning I couldn’t even distinguish between the long term volunteer group which would grow to be my new international family and the participants of the youth exchange! It was overwhelming to say the least and the urge to run away from all that chaos was not unfamiliar to me in these first days.
In the end I learned that there are many different periods at the campsite and that the situation continually changes. Especially in the beginning it is important to not give up and power through the hard times because I can assure you living here is amazing after the first initial days!
Arriving at Camping Belvedere I did not picture the location, the people, the environment like this. You never can in fact. Times change fast here. In only four weeks which flew by way faster than the meteorites we can watch in the night sky, I came to love, enjoy and benefit from this place. I learned about the animals, communal living, giving and receiving and diversity and interculturality among us volunteers and the visitors of the camping. We had busy weeks with little free time and more relaxed days that we spent at the river, visiting Toulouse or watching movies.
Daily planning is super flexible thanks to our amazing tutor, Alicia, and the head of the camping, Bibie. There are endless opportunities and ways for us to get involved in all kinds of activities that we choose or create on our own.
I can be proud to call it my home, to think about next ideas to implement or just enjoy the long nights together as a big family. To be honest, my old schedule like eating habits, sleeping, working out or just any other habits I had before got completely destroyed upon arrival. This place has a different kind of pacing than home and to enjoy it you need to let yourself loose and submerge completely in the experience. After some time you will slowly start rebuilding your own habits and adjust them for the better :))