Every summer more than 170 young orienteers meet at the biggest trainign camp organised in the Czech Republic – SILVA O’Camp at Vidnava in northern Moravia. The name for the camp was used for the first time in 1998, however the tradion of summer training camps organised by orienteers from the WOC 2008 host city Olomouc spans across much longer period.
Camp for Everyone
Since the very beginning the camp the organisers have promoted and realised the idea of an orienteering camp for all young people interested in the sport. For this reason they decided to work with rather unusual large age spectrum of the participants – group of children aged between 8 to 18 years of age. Such factor innevitably makes their work more complicated – there’s a big difference between preparing an activity plan for small children compared to preparing such a plan for teenagers, who have different ideas about how to have fun and how to enjoy themselves. Trainees in the camp range from very beginners to experienced orienteers, such as ex. junior National Team runners.
However, the main idea is that people learn and get inspired from one another. The 30 years long history of the camp proved this concept right. More experienced hildren and youths often help their smaller and less experienced friends. This leads to making many new friendships, which often last for many years.
However, the participants of the camp train and do other sport activities while divided into different teams of at about 15 members, according to orienteering skills and fitness of the participants. This gives them a chance to compete against and compare their results with mates who are on the same sporting level.
In 2003 the camp welcomed a group of orienteers from a distant and exotic country – a group of students from China. In 2005 the internationality of the camp was even bigger and thus you could hear, for example, such languages as Hebrew, Chinese, Swedish, Hungarian or Slovenian spoken in the camp. However, the official language, apart from Czech, is, and always will be, English.
The value is obvious for all the children. Not only that they meet and make friends from abroad, they can also learn and practice language, which knowledge is essential in the present-day world.
Challenging terrain, high-quality training
These are the main and most important aspects on which the profile of the camp was built. The camp itself is situated in the middle of one of the most beautiful orienteering terrain in the Czech Republic. In recent past there were several times organised the Czech National Championships as well as multi-day international events. Rocks, boulders, marshes, hills as well as flat fast undulating ground – this all makes forests at Vidnava special and very challenging from the orienteering point of view. But, even if the forest is challenging, here are still areas which are suitable for learning of the basic navigational skills, which is best appreciated by beginners taking part in the camp. Any high quality terrain would be worthless were it not mapped with a high quality map. The most recent orienteering map of the terrain was made in 2004 by the best Czech mappers and covers over 15km2 of the terrain. This map was revised in 2005 and will be further extended in 2006 for reason of the international orienteering event Grand Prix Silesia.
In all training sessions at the camp the SI time-keeping and punching system is used. Each session is held on a new map extract with a course printed on it.
Apart from regular training, all participants of the camp have a chance to experience the WOC model, when they compete in all orienteering disciplines, including Relay and a „Night“ event. All the camp competitions are followed by prize-giving ceremonies in the evening and by the end of every day the team leaders appreciate training efforts of the trainees on their teams.
Other Sport Activities
However, orienteering training is by far not the only activity at the camp. The organisers try to find good balance between running and other sport activities, which inseparably belong to holidays and young people. Cycling is a good example – bikes are not only used for tours into the surrounding countryside, they are also valuable means of transportation to some of the training sessions located at longer distance from the camp.
Every year there is a triathlon event organised and this would be unthinkable without bikes. Apart from that, the camp is regularly visited by specialists from the rope activities center in Olomouc, who prepare for the children special ‚rope‘ courses which they try to negotiate – this way the youngest one can test their flexibility and coordination, the oldest namely their courage and braveness.
A football tournament has also become a regular part of the camp’s programme over the years. Same can be said about visits to a nearby swimming pool.
However, this list of activities is not full by far and there are new activities added on the programme of the camp every year.
Fun and Entertainment
In the evenings the participants of the camp meet together to have fun and enjoy themselves. Every evening there’s an exciting menu ready for them – discotheques, meetings with Czech National Team runners, or the famous ‚Miss Vidnava‘ contest.
Last year the hit No. 1 was a fashion show based around orienteering thematics. The ‚Camp Games‘ rather belong to the sport activities category, however the Opening Ceremony of the event definitely has to be described as a „cultural event“.
Experienced Coaching Team
The team of the camp leaders is based on volunteers with great sense of humor and love for the job they are doing, none of which they lose despite the enormous responsibility they have. The optimum number of two leaders per team is a guarantee that everyone of the children will be taken care of with all the needs they may have. A balanced out selection of leaders to respective teams is another key to success – young children get composed, patient, „motherly“ types while grown-up kids are lead by „rough and tough“ coaches capable to wear them down. Men and women are equally represented in each group of the leaders, which makes solving possible problems easier and makes the atmosphere in the team more relaxed and exciting.
Foreign participants are assisted by English speaking coaches, highly experienced in orienteering.
With the Assistance of Young Experts
There is one more thing which makes the SILVA O’Camp special. Many of its participants come back after years to help, this time, as organisers. This concerns mainly the field of computing technologies, which are perfectly controlled and ‚governed‘ by young experts. Programming of controls, reading of SI cards, processing of the results, controlling the sound system – this all is just a part of their job.
The youngsters do also run the ‚Camp‘ buffet, where the main currency is money specially printed for the needs of the camp. Each of the camp leaders controls his/her own budget which they use in rewarding their trainees for their efforts.
Last but not the least, we cannot forget about the camp’s website (www.silvacamp.eu), which design and concept has reached a truly professional level – the web pages are full of regular updates, results from the previous years, photos, participants‘ opinons and they also include electronic entry forms.
SILVA O’Camp is regularly covered in press as well as by radio and TV stations. Every year the Czech TV visits our camp to make a report about it into the national news programme on the Channel 2. The regional supplement of the most read daily newspaper in the Czech Republic, the MF DNES, has reported about the camp for several years now. Reports on the Český Rozhlas radio station in Olomouc have also become a regular tradition.