Programs from 2005 through 2009: Land of Friendship and Peace, Rakovica, BIH
From 2005 through 2009, GCO summer programs were held in a beautiful 15-acre
mountain retreat created and developed, over the past 15 years, through the efforts of Jean Claude Carreau. Mr. Jean Claude Carreau’s son was killed by a mortar shell shot at the humanitarian convoy he was leading in July 1995, while serving as a UN peacekeeping officer in Sarajevo. In memory and tribute to his son, Mr. Carreau has dedicated his energies and resources to developing a mountain retreat that specializes in recreational and therapeutic horseback riding for children who have suffered from the many post-war traumas and losses. Mr. Carreau’s objectives have been 1) to support the children affected by the regional conflicts in the Balkans and 2) to promote a new
understanding between the peoples in the region.
Program Cornerstones/GCO at the Land of Friendship and Peace, Rakovica, BIH
Arts and Healing: Our Arts and Healing program includes theater, music, dance and visual arts. The program supports and encourages individual expression as well as group
activities emphasizing teamwork, collaboration and creative problem solving. Drumming, singing, painting, sandplay and more, help children explore new avenues of communication and aspects of themselves.
Community Building: Our community building curriculum includes games and exercises that promote respect, trust, and teamwork. Through these activities, children become part of a diverse camp community, and develop increasing flexibility and awareness in learning non-violent, collaborative options for problem solving.
Recreational Horseback Riding: A highly trained staff of riding specialists provides training to campers, matching them with horses, teaching them to ride and instructing them in the care and tending of the horses and riding equipment. The kinship between horse, rider, and support staff opens doors for life-long transformations. The powerful presence and generous heart of the horse allows for a natural opportunity to overcome fear, develop confidence, increase sense of personal responsibility and emphasize mutual respect.
Sports: Campers enjoy many sports activities in a supportive and noncompetitive environment. They gain confidence playing sports like soccer and basketball, and acquire new skills and practice team-building as they participate in hiking adventures, ropes courses, mountain biking, and group games.
Summer 2005 GCO hosted our first Mountain Camp in summer of 2005, beginning with a small pilot program that ran for two weeks. Horseback riding, climbing wall, swimming, biking, hiking, volleyball, soccer, basketball, table tennis, sandplay, art room, wall mural, dance and movement, drama, group games, soapmaking, bookmaking, English lessons, photo projects, sleep-outs in tents and enjoying night-time campfires were among the many wonderful activities included in our program. Guests of all sorts visited the camp to share their skills and talents—art and drama specialists, rock and
roll bands, folksingers, a group of talented young violinists, a Spanish mime circus, and drummers. Other successes included the brilliant publicity our program received in the local and regional press, and the huge amount of donated goods we received from local businesses and other organizations wishing to support us. These successes were the result of the expert networking, hard work and skill of the members of the Balkan Council, a group of dedicated in-country colleagues who are taking on increasingly active leadership roles in making the GCO programs in the Balkans wonderful. The children participating in this camp came from Banja Luka, Novi Sad, Gorazde, Mostar, Tuzla and Sarajevo.
Winter 2006 For the first year in our history, GCO ran a 6 day WINTER CAMP, in January 2006, inviting children from Banja Luka, Mostar and Mihatovici (Mihatovici is a refugee camp near Tuzla; it is the last sanctuary of refugees from Srebrenica; these children, new to GCO, will be joining us at our summer program in 2006).
The children at the Winter Camp enjoyed horseback riding, sledding and other snow games in the cold and snowy January weather. Warming up in the cozy indoors, their activities included table tennis, board games, indoor soccer, guitar playing and singing, charades, talent shows, and movie nights.
March 2006 / GCO In-Country Workshop
Nearly 30 GCO in-country volunteers met for a weekend workshop at our GCO camp
location near Sarajevo on March 10-12 to plan for our 2006 summer programs.
Highlights: sharing creative conversations, connecting as a community,
and envisioning GCO into the future. Plenty of serious prep work aimed at
making Summer 2006 an unprecedented success. And, an abundance of fabulous
GCO hosted two 2-week sessions for children aged 7-11 and one leadership training session for mid-teens who would like to become volunteers at camp in future summers.