As I had missed the IAYC 2003 in Klingenthal, I felt a bit like a lost soul coming back home. But it was surprising how much I had forgotten about my beloved home…

The first hole in my memory was forgetting how much an IAYC asks of a person physically. It is common knowledge that after an IAYC you need a holiday to get back to normal. So the last thing you want to do is show up on the first day of IAYC tired. Due to a preunion of a few days in Prague with this year’s Spanish delegation, and a birthday of one of the members of this delegation, we arrived in Sayda in a mixed state of a hangover and a lack of sleep of approximately 10 hours. Mistake.

While refinding my place among the living in the first days of the camp, I noticed that there was something special about the group of people this year. Very early in the camp there was a lot of interaction between the people. This could only mean one thing: this was going to be one great camp…

…and it became one great camp. The center of social life was the stairway to the camphouse.

When not working on their projects, people were sitting here talking about the good food they just had, the beautiful constellation they were a part of or the name of a song they lost their mind on at last evening’s party. And, probably due to the large portion of Southern-European participants, there were a lot of parties to talk about. One invention made this camp was the rain-party.

Speakers out the windows and dancing until not a dry spot was left on anybody. A successive showerparty, an invention from the year before, was sufficient to warm up again. When the visitors reminded us that it was the 40th camp, we knew that they meant this had to be celebrated. And so it happened. I remember the breakfast next morning was very amusing…

So was the IAYC 2004 only about parties? Not by a long shot. Many people were working a lot on their projects, acquiring very nice results. The image of a line of people walking to the observation field is imprinted in my brain. It was a very nice walk through the forest ending on top of a hill with a view 360 degrees around. Many clear nights allowed people to work on their projects, or just stargaze. Numerous days started on the observation field and when quick enough, it was possible to see a sunrise twice by using the hunting towers that were everywhere around.

It is impossible to name all the things that made this camp special. But some things have to be mentioned. There was a revival of the wacky competitions spirit first observed in 2000. As back then, it started again with the cookie competition. This time it ended with rarities such as the ‘where are you going - I don’t know - competition’ and of course the legendary ass-competition. The winner of this competition is since this camp also known as Dr Drice, due to an unsuccessful, but explosive, experiment with dry ice. The camphouse also had a very nice field where both boys and girls were able to express themselves in the international language called football. One small but important feature of the camphouse that the beloved NAP-leader Ania will never forget was the fountain. She spent most of her time there, reminiscing the wonderful chaos she had just created moments before, and wondering how she ended up in the fountain again.

Talking about NAP, the constructing game has to be mentioned. The construction game is the yearly event when the international bunch of astronomers prove that they could have just as easily become a successful engineer. This year, the challenge was to transport a pingpongball as far as possible through air. Of course, supplied with anything but useful material, the challenge was not an easy one. This is the only excuse I can think of for justifying my part in the construction of the worst ever built hot air balloon in human history.

When thinking back to this camp, I get a lot of short memory flashes: Klaas with his swollen foot, Rob with his bunny ears, Balazs with his tail, seeing a shooting star breaking into different pieces, an incredible pink sky in an early morning, loosing a juggling ball in the nearby pond, cleaning up dozens of half empty beer bottles after a party, people going insane at the Somerrodelbahn on the free day resulting in many wounded, a great water fight, finding the observation field had suddenly disappeared, walking on this field nevertheless only to find out the ground was more fertilizer than soil, waking up on the observation road and walking back for breakfast, sitting in the working group window, standing on the dancefloor realizing the sun was already shining… but all these memories are dominated by the people in them. Because in the end it was the friends, old and new, from all over the world, that made this an unforgettable three weeks.

“How do you feel?”

“I feel great!”

By Erik Jansen (Netherlands)