SJAS childrens’ camps for young Swiss living abroad
Since 1917 Swiss children living all over the world have the opportunity to attend meaningful, fun summer & winter camps in Switzerland organized by the Stiftung für junge Auslandschweizer (SJAS childrens’ camps) (Foundation for the young Swiss abroad FYSA).
This summer’s Circus Camp is just one option of many. There are also culture, travelling, sports, hiking, sailing and other camps. To speak German is not a requirement and it is fun to hear English, French, Spanish, Italian and other languages fly through the air in every direction. Communication is guaranteed by the Swiss camp leaders who speak several languages.
100 years SJAS childrens’ camps in Switzerland
Initially founded for Swiss children living in disaster-torn areas around the world to spend a couple of weeks with host families in a tranquil setting in Switzerland, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the first true holiday camps were organised. The Foundation operated then as Swiss Aid.
The name Stiftung für junge Auslandschweizer SJAS (Foundation for young Swiss Abroad FYSA) was adapted in 1979 and young Swiss between the ages of 8 and 14 from around the globe have come together in Switzerland every year to attend a variety of holiday camps. Like the two-week holiday Circus Camp that SJAS‘ offered in July/August 2017 in Hergiswil/Willisau.
SJAS Circus Camp
A real circus atmosphere prevailed. The benches were packed tight right to the roof, the kids were excited, the candy man circulated, announcing hand-made programs, peanuts, chocolates and bottles of cold water. The latter were sorely needed. It had been a hot day in Hergiswil and the sun had mercilessly beaten onto the blue-and-white circus tent all day. Collecting under the plastic tent and together with the atmosphere, the heat hit the roof! No matter, everyone was infected by the young artists’ enthusiasm and a drum roll by the young band announced the show.
Young artists like Marcus Ciavarelli (13) from Philadelphia and Odelia Gartner Levy (9) from Tel-Aviv had lived and worked together with 60 other young Swiss between the ages of 8 and 14 from around the world on the circus show they were about the present to the audience.
The pride was palpable as they clowned, danced, trapezed, sang, pantomimed and otherwise performed with gusto in colorful costumes, faces made up to the tilt and in half a dozen languages performed their parts. The audience just loved it and so did the combined SJAS and Pipistrello camp & circus leaders.
SJAS goal is for Swiss abroad participants to discover Switzerland and develop friendships
“There is no greater reward than to see the glowing faces and shiny eyes of our camp participants when they demonstrate their new found skills and thrill in their new friendships towards the end of the camps,” says Angelina Mazzocco, Program Manager, SJAS childrens’ camps.
Every year, around 400 Swiss children from 50 different countries discover new regions in Switzerland. On the itinerary are games, sporting competitions, hikes as well as excursions to cities and museums, sightseeing and overnight stays at farmhouses. The well-qualified team leaders ensure that the camps are exciting, fun and safe for the multicultural groups.
For this particular circus camp, SJAS childrens’ camps worked together with Circolino Pipistrello, a “take-part” circus of 35 years.
Between spring and fall, Pipistrello moves its wagons to varying locations within Switzerland where people want to make circus themselves: school populations of all ages, varying groups of adults, business people and this holiday camp for the young Swiss living abroad.
The program develops afresh with every new group in cooperation between the real circus artists and the desires/skills of the participants.