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Summer camp 2007

A German-Slovak youth meeting held in English
for young walkers and nature lovers

"In the Land of the Bear"

in the Tatra Mountains of Slovakia
on 5th-11th August 2007

During a 7-day camp with 14 teenagers from Germany and 5 from Slovakia we tried to show as much as possible of the countryside unknown to them. In the surrounding hills of the Západné and Nízke Tatry we searched for tracks and signs of carnivores. We did not have to look far for bears: they were attracted by the pervasive smell of ripening raspberries along the paths. We found bear faeces not far from the main road and in the forest there were bite marks in wood. This showed that spending a week in Račková Valley was the right choice with the aim of seeing the tracks of bears as well as glacial lakes and magnificent views that motivated inexperienced youth from Germany to hike up the valley.

On the third day camp participants could test their skills. They identified spices by smell and tried to find their way with blindfolds on. Most of all they were attracted by climbing on a rope course thanks to our part-time volunteers, Majka and Stano. In the evening they added to their know-how of mountain safety, which in many cases was completely lacking, with a slide show and lecture by former mountain rescue service member, Dano, who told them about avalanches and rescues. The kids were especially fascinated by the tying of various knots, which they tried out for themselves.

For a change on the next day we went to Jánska Valley. Our plan to spend a night at the lodge below Ďumbier peak had to be changed due to bad weather as well as the unsuitable clothing of some participants. Along the red-marked way from Stanišovské Saddle we were lucky to find quite fresh tracks of wolves, which was a great experience for some participants who had never seen wolf tracks before. We finshed at the natural mineral spring in Liptovský Ján, where the hardier ones enjoyed bathing in the rain. It was more interesting for them than any aquapark. During the camp we also visited Demänovská Ice Cave, watched an event at the museum of folk architecture in Pribylina and on the final evening went to Campfest music festival in nearby Svarín.

We would like to thank the following institutions for their support and offering discounts for participants in our camp: the Musuem of the Liptov Village in Pribylina and the Cave Administration in Demänovská Valley. Thank you to David Hančinský, Tatras National Park ranger, for guiding us in Jamnická Valley and informing us about the Park. The biggest thanks go to the staff at Comenius Lodge (chata Komenského) in Račková Valley, not only for the discount they gave us on accommodation but also for their sincere willingness to offer help, always with a smile. I would like to extend my personal thanks to Doris Lundgreen of our German partner organisation, who was not only co-organiser but thanks to her support we were able to complete the planned camp and programme.

Mgr. Svetlana Beťková
Education and public relations

Organised as part of The BEARS Project by the Slovak Wildlife Society in cooperation with BUNDjugend Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany