IAYC 2002 was definitely blue. But not some ordinary blue, neither the patented blue kept among other places in the Cologne museum. It was blue da be dee da. It became blue after a ferocious fight on the corridor of the camp house; weapons being sizeable loudspeakers. Even when the victory was almost obvious, a few guerrillas still claimed that there’s No reason to be ashamed/ No reason to be sad/ Can you feel the other place/ Don’t you feel so fine/ Forever have a good time/ I just wanna be happy now/ The music is deep inside/ So baby can you try/ We can’t find/ So I begin.

But let’s start from the beginning. The 38th IAYC took place near the small village in Bavaria, Germany. The camp house was “Schullandheim Eichenberg”, a seminar place for schools located about 2 km from the small village of Eichendorf. It was placed on a green hill with a pleasant view on the so called “Vilstal”, some 135 km north-east of Munich, 55 km west of Passau and 80 km south-west of Regensburg.

The house offered plenty of space for all participants, and working groups, and we even had our own real darkroom! The dark girl introduced many hungry-for-knowledge participants to the darkroom techniques during the many workshops she did in it. The remoteness of the city of Eichendorf guaranteed good observing conditions, but the weather unfortunately didn’t.

And who made it all happen? 38th IAYC was prepared and led by Ania, Anja, Bart, Bjoern, Christian, Kai, Roberto, Stijn, TiNa and Tim. Kai was the General Coordinator, Roberto was the NAP leader, and TiNa was the darkroom leader. We had 7 working groups: “COOL stuff in the universe” led by Bart, “Inventions, Discoveries and Experiments in Astronomy” led by Stijn, “Observational Cosmology” led by Anja, “Practical Astrophysics” led by Tim, “Practical Astronomy” led by Bjoern, “Signal Laboratory” led by Christian, and “Philosophy of Science”; led by me (Ania).

We had participants from 22 different countries, including those not represented very often such as Turkey, Portugal, India, Romania, Canada or Croatia.

But what was so special about these three weeks at the end of July and beginning of August in 2002? What made them different from the other camps?

For one thing it was the only camp that Jo:rg missed in his long IAYC history starting in 1996 and ending in 2005. Another thing was the one and only treasure hunt in the rain. Days of preparations of the NAP leader, and then it rained. But did it spoil all the joy? By far! Most participants claimed that it was the best treasure hunt ever, and that we should make sure it rains during treasure hunts every year.

What was also memorable was the big black balloon that we managed to construct out of plastic foil under Tim’s close supervision. The balloon actually flew up, but was attached so under full control. Another thing attracting attention was “the Blinking Device” made by the participants of Signal Laboratory. What did it do? It blinked. What did it say? SiLab (is) HOT. And indeed they were not cool; they were hot.

For one of the NAP games, during those three weeks each working group grew their own beans. At the end of the camp it turned out that the secret to having the highest stem was not fertilizer, not any particular kind of music or UV light. The secret was Gerlolsteiner, the same water that Steffen drinks. What makes humans grow over 2 meters tall made a bean grow in 3 weeks over one meter high.

There were also things happening during this camp that passed on to the history of IAYC. Have you even wondered when cucumber parties started? Now you know. The story is that Schullandheim Eichenberg had a large supply of pickled cucumbers that we were allowed to eat, and so we did. Other indispensable elements were the sunrise and of course leaders and participants. To attend the first cucumber parties you had to recite a poem about a cucumber. That was a requirement.

In short, another great camp - as unique and special as every single one of them.

By Ania Lesiewicz