Allow me to tell you the IAYC-story through the eyes of a first time participant. So sit back, relax and prepare to be swept away into the wonderful world of stars, comets and constellations.

You see, it all started way back on a partly cloudy day in the Czech Republic on the 29th of July 2007. We had finally arrived at the camp house in Třemešek. After running around from train to train and jumping from bus to bus, we were exhausted?. Or at least I was. I had no idea that the day was yet beginning. After the first few hours, we were playing games and talking like old friends. Having met all the leaders and having heard of the layout for the next three weeks, I felt a ping of gladness, maybe; just maybe, being so far from home wasn’t going to be that bad at all.

And the fun was just beginning. During the first meeting the words constellations and mushrooming kept popping up, other participants who have attended the camp before seemed to know what the joke was, but the newbie’s on the other hand, didn’t. It didn’t take long for us to catch on though! After the meeting I had learned yet another word, note to self though, the words used at the IAYC, have almost no relation the word’s literal meaning! The new word was “shower”. As soon as the meeting ended, people started chanting: “Shower, Sebastian! Shower, Sebastian!” A little confused I “observed” from a distance. I soon learned the IAYC meaning of showering! Just so you know Sebastian did get showered!

It is also common that if you don’t know the English word of something (seeing that there are participants from all over the world!), you use the word device, drinking device (cup), eating device (fork) and the list is just endless!

As for the sports and games at the camp, soccer and foosball, seemed to be a great hit! Too bad the attempted Competitions didn’t work out, but we still had fun. As for the NAP (Non Astronomical Programs), it rocked! From Treasure hunts to playing the human twister, it was great to be acting like a kid again! And we can’t forget the showering game! But we also must not forget about our four ‘‘oh so brave’’ astronauts who went to Mars for 24 hours and were cut off completely, from planet Earth. They had to complete extra-ordinary and sometimes bizarre tasks and lived on nothing but crisps and water. We were so proud of them! Don’t worry, they returned homewards unharmed and so much wiser! The tales they had to tell.

Can anyone say: PARTY? If I had to describe this word, the best fitting explanation would consist of three syllables: APA. Those people knew how to party! They partied from dusk till dawn, in short, the party never ended! Another highlight must have been the poetry evening, the sing along and the national evening. The national evening was superb! There were great performances and we definitely learned more about other cultures and traditions. The sing along was also enjoyed thoroughly, one of the most popular songs was: “those were the days my friend”. And the funniest part is; I still can’t get that song out of my head! And I am not sure I want to? In the end when you leave the IAYC- camp house you don’t just leave there enlightened with knowledge of our wonderful sky, you leave there with wonderful memories that will last you a lifetime.

All in all, it was great to be able to get away form the rush of our busy lifestyles and to get in touch with some of Mother Nature’s beauty. Going out to the observation field and looking at the stars, was one of the most memorable moments. The meteor shower was also something exceptional. Learning about the world beyond our reach was both fun and exciting. It is an adventure waiting to be explored!

In the end three weeks went by faster that expected and before I knew it, it was all over. Sure I was looking forward to actually getting some sleep, but on the downside I was going to have to say goodbye to my IAYC-family, who I have grown to love. It was an awesome experience and I wouldn’t exchange it for anything in the world! I was glad to have been part of the IAYC-Experience. I just hope that someday I’ll be able to return and once again relive the IAYC-Experience?

By Toni-Farren Vraagom