Here is how it all began:
Pierre Cérésole, a Swiss engineer, organised the first international workcamp (voluntary project) on the former battlefield of Verdun (France) in 1920 in order to reconstruct the war damaged village. Cérésole wanted the workcamp to be a symbol of reconciliation between France and Germany. The volunteers build up temporary homes for the villagers and cleared the farmland. Hence, in this time of militarism and nationalism, volunteers proved that working together and international mutual understanding are possible.
This idea still lives on in the international SCI-workcamps: volunteers work, live and learn together, for two to three weeks for example in memorial places at former concentration camps, with deprived people, with children and young people, for nature, environment and climate protection or in innovative culture initiatives. These commitments should lead to peace and international understanding, to social justice, to equal relations between the North and the South, the East and the West and they should as well contribute to an environment worth living in.
Today, SCI consists of 42 members (branches/groups) and an ever growing number of partner organisations in all continents. Short and long term voluntary projects take place worldwide.
The movement still believes in promoting peace through concrete acts of solidarity and international cooperation, but there is also a belief that peace and peaceful attitudes can and need to be learned. This is done through various forms of peace education to learn about and from peace. Seminars, training programmes and workshops in the field of non-formal education have become an important additional method of SCI’s work that supports the organisation in achieving its mission of `promoting a culture of peace.
Along with other voluntary organizations, SCI-Germany organizes international exchanges in more than 100 countries. Around 50 workcamps take place every year in Germany. A workcamp in Germany is a great opportunity to expand your horizon! You get to know other volunteers from all over the world and you can improve your English skills on the side. In a camp in Germany you have the chance to introduce your own country to foreign volunteers and learn a few new things about your home country.
Here are the topics that the workcamps cover:
Antiracism, Antifascism, Memorials
Gender and equality
Children and young people
Environmental protection and nature conservation
Climate and sustainable living
Art, culture and local history
To get involved and experience the wonderful community feeling of a work camp, SCI Team is also working on digital formats for international exchange.
SCI first online workcamp was named “Sustainable Lifestyle in Lockdown”, it was implemented by SCI Germany and it took place from 4th to 11th of May, 2020.
During the workcamp 11 participants from 8 countries (Spain, Russia, Germany, Ukraine, India, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Italy) have been encouraged to create or keep a sustainable lifestyle, while being supported by an online community. Main topics were: waste management, recycling, food sharing, fast fashion, alternative approaches to the conscious and sustainable lifestyle.
The participants were provided with creative and sustainable solutions for recycling, waste management, fast fashion, food sharing and alternative approaches to the avoidance of abundance of things. The facilitators encouraged them to implement the newly gained knowledge into their everyday life routines and disseminate the results among their communities.
Even though the workcamp took place online, it felt pretty close to a real workcamp. The participants were sewing, cooking, had “Do it yourself” challenges, e.g. produce their own sanitizers, lip balms or hair masks. They also had the opportunity to implement their own ideas during open space sessions, as e.g. organising a multicultural party. And as for every workcamp, there have been some tasks: Reporter, Photo Wizzard, Time Keeper, Good Mood Officer.
The participants have been very active and enthusiastic about the Digital Workcamp! Some have already shared ideas for further cooperation with SCI.
At the SCI, all assignments of six months or more are considered Long Term Volunteering (LTV). In addition, we also arrange placement positions within the framework of medium-term volunteer services of one to six months (Medium Term Volunteering, MTV).
In contrast to work camps, long-term volunteers usually work alone or in pairs in an SCI partner project abroad.
The SCI places long-term volunteers in the following support programmes:
International Youth Volunteer Service (IJFD)
weltwärts (voluntary service in development policy)
In addition, the SCI arranges assignments within the framework of so-called unregulated voluntary services which are not publicly funded.
While the support programmes require certain formal requirements from the volunteers (e.g. age limits), the unregulated services are basically open to all interests.
How can I join?
This year everything is a bit different due to the Corona Pandemic and the security measures associated with it. Since 8 May you can register for workcamps again. However, there may still be some short-term changes, as the health of everyone is the most important thing at the moment and we comply with the safety and hygiene measures.
Usually our camps are characterized by meeting like-minded people from all over the world. Unfortunately, this year it is not possible to enter from many countries, so the groups in the camps will be smaller and the participants will come from the surrounding area.
Still you can be or get involved, just follow our SCI site here or here and updated instagram page.