2008 Donauschwaben Jugendfreundschaftslager
July 26, 2008
The First Ever Donauschwaben Youth Camp
By Joe Ludwig
What has friends, camping, cooking, sight-seeing and dancing rolled into one memorable four-day weekend? The answer is the Jugendfreundschaftslager. The first ever Donauschwaben Youth Camp was hosted in St. Louis, Missouri and youth group members from Chicago, Cincinnati and Cleveland were fortunate enough to participate on the weekend of June 26.
When everyone arrived on Thursday, the first day of the campout, the youth group members from the four cities picked out a good spot and pitched their home for the next three days. The rest of the first evening was spent getting to know each other. The youth connected with a couple games of soccer, the universal sport that every Swob loves.
On the next day, everyone went downtown to see the famous St. Louis Arch, the “gateway to the west”. They rose 830 feet and saw an overview of St. Louis, Missouri and the flooded Mississippi. After the tour of the arch, they had a St. Louis style lunch at their clubhouse and enjoyed toasted ravioli, a specialty of St. Louis. After lunch and a very competitive game of “duck, duck, goose”, they all went out to tour Grant’s Farm where they were treated to a tram ride, animal show, and a tour of the Clydesdales barns. Following a tasty dinner of St. Louis BBQ ribs and frozen custard, a live band performed for everyone the rest of the night.
The Donauschwaben culture and heritage were the key points for Saturday. The participants were split into several different groups and they combined their efforts to make homemade Goulasch and Spätzle. They heard an inspiring presentation on the importance of Kirchweihfest by St. Louis’ culture representative Joseph Simon and listened to Elizabeth Walters, author of the true story Barefoot in the Rubble give a very passionate presentation about what personally happened to her during her childhood in Yugoslavia. Some of the incidents that she described really hit home to a lot of the youth because a lot of their grandparents went through some of the same things. As the afternoon wore on, they learned two dances, spent time talking and enjoyed their homemade G for dinner. That night they were treated with music from the famous “D.J. E.D.” and marveled at a surprise firework show.
By the time the final day arrived, nobody wanted to leave but was forced to say their goodbyes, until they would see each other again on Labor Day Weekend anyway. A hopeful new yearly tradition and no doubt a success, the Jugendfreundschaftslager was a good time for everyone who was involved.
As with any event like this, the first ever Jugendfreundschaftslager took a lot of appreciated effort and pre-planning by the youth leaders in St. Louis and the other three cities that participated. A very special thank you goes out to everyone who helped make this possible.