Manon Hap, engineer at Syngenia

“Camp de Partage” – an enriching human experience

Syngenia’s FORWARD program, as we have previously highlighted, aims to contribute to the professional and the personal development of its staff.

Investing in projects with added value for society is one way of achieving this.

We talked with Manon Hap about the “Camp de Partage”, a summer camp she took part in alongside disadvantaged young people. Syngenia supported her participation in this project by granting her a few days’ extra leave.

  • What is the “Camp de Partage”?

For two weeks each August, about fifty young people aged between 6 and 17 who have been placed in institutions or are from difficult family backgrounds are offered a holiday in a big summer camp organised especially for them. Divided into age groups, they’re taken care of by volunteers who run the activities and by other volunteers who act as cooks. It’s a chance for these youngsters to feel part of a family and participate at recreational activities.

  • This was your first time as a camp counsellor. What did you think of the experience?

For me, it was a wonderful experience. Though I’d heard a lot about it before getting involved, you really have to go and do it if you want to know what it means in human terms. Strong relationships built up with the children, the other counsellors and the mealtime parents. They’re based on values such as respect, cooperation, complementarity and flexibility. Everything gets easier. Relationships become more direct. It’s also very tiring, though, because the days are very long. Once the children have gone to bed, the volunteers meet and debrief, prepare the next day’s activities and tackle any difficulties that they have faced that day. Same routine in the mornings, before breakfast.

  • Syngenia supported your participation in this project. What did you gain from it for your professional life?

I experienced many aspects of managing human relations. You have to learn to manage differences and conflicts between people, promote mutual respect, work together with people who are different to you but who may be complementary and develop the capacity to mediate without seeking to take the lead. Besides that you also have to work on yourself, drawing on a positive kind of stress that pumps enough adrenalin to keep you going all week, despite the fatigue. Finally, you have to show great flexibility while maintaining the distance that you need in order to act in a fair and considered way. Stimulating and supporting these children isn’t something you can do on your own. It asks for real teamwork…

  • Sounds like you’re all packed and ready to go again next year.

Absolutely! I’m longing to see them all again, the children and the volunteers. If I’m given the chance, I’d be very willing to do the full two weeks of camp next time.

Thibault Coppieters, another Syngenia consultant, has also benefited from this great experience in the past.

Click here if you would like to know more about the “Camp de Partage” non-profit association.