The highlight of the year for members of the Almancil International Rotary Club (AIRC) is when the summer camp students report on the trips they made to other countries during the summer.
Rotary has been organising summer camp exchanges for over 60 years, providing incredible opportunities for young people to see the world, experience a different way of life, make international friends and discover a lot about themselves whilst acting as ambassadors for their own country.
The students generally stay for part of the time with Rotarians and their families. The number of participants on each camp varies but typically there are between eight and 20, and normally there will be only one participant from each country. The preferred language is almost always English.
Activities at the camps differ but can include, among other things, hiking, sailing, cycling, and mountain climbing.
The AIRC project is run by members Patricia Doling and Dr Raymond Parfait.
This year they received 30 applications from students at Escola EB2,3 Dr. António de Sousa Agostinho in Almancil and Escola Secundária Dra. Laura Ayres in Quarteira of which 18 were interviewed with their parents.
Sadly, of the 18 seven opted out for various reasons; but primarily fear of terror attacks which were much in the news at the time of the interviews.
The remaining 11 students (10 girls and one boy) were chosen to go to camps in The Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Italy, England and Slovakia.
Some of the students were totally funded from money raised at various Rotary events and by generous donations from two club members and a friend of a club member.
“It is true that children are our future,” said Dr Parfait. “These students have unforgettable experiences and, in many cases, make friends for life to the extent that they often visit each other long after the camps have finished and keep in touch by email and Facebook.”
All of the students had an amazing time which was obvious from the PowerPoint presentations that 10 of them made (in perfect English) at the dinner held on Wednesday last week at the Conrad Algarve in front of Rotarians, guests and family members.
The dinner this year coincided with the annual visit of the Rotary District Governor Abílio Lopes who praised the AIRC for the work it does with young people.
Photo: The summer camp students with District Governor Abílio Lopes, Dr Raymond Parfait, Patricia Doling and AIRC President Hermes Alberto