Ecumenical Youth Services

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Ecumenical Youth Services (ÖJD), sponsored by the Office for Church Services of the Evangelical Church Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia , is a program for work assignments by young people from all over Europe . In the ecumenically oriented work camps , 20 adolescents and young adults spend two weeks together doing community work, leisure time and thematic exchange. The camps are accompanied by volunteer leaders. They are (under the motto "united we work" English : We work together) in addition to the inter-religious and inter-cultural exchange the experience of solidarity , equality and responsibility in the group allow. The Ecumenical Youth Services were founded in 1956 in the GDR .


In the summer of 1955, the Gossner Mission carried out a "construction camp" in Berlin. One year later, in cooperation with the Gossner Mission and the youth department of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, the first ecumenical-international development camp was organized in the GDR. The "Protestant Youth Chamber East", founded in 1950 as an extension of the "Church Youth Chamber in the GDR", took over the construction camps as a specialist area in 1957. When the “Ecumenical Working Group of Evangelical Youth in the GDR” was founded, regional groups were also formed within the GDR, the Federal Republic of Germany , the Netherlands , Great Britain and Scandinavia . From 1958 the annual Easter Conference took place with young people from Eastern and Western Europe.

In 1967 the construction camp work was expanded with the establishment of an Ecumenical Unit with an associated Ecumenical Youth Service . The name Ecumenical Reconstruction Camp was replaced by the name Ecumenical Youth Service - ÖJD .

8 to 10 camps with around 120 to 150 participants were carried out in the GDR each year. 30–50% of the participants did not come from the GDR.

After the German reunification , the “Ecumenical Youth Service” with its various areas of work was dissolved. Only the work camp work was taken over by the working group of Protestant youth in 1991 with the reason: "The work camps will continue to represent important fields of experience for experiencing ecumenical fellowship, intercultural learning and practical non-profit work ..."

From 1997 the "Office for Protestant Child and Youth Work in Berlin and Brandenburg" was the sole sponsor of the work camp programs, which merged with the regional church in Silesian Upper Lusatia in 2004 to become the "Office for Protestant Child and Youth Work Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia" “(EKBO) became.

Since spring 2006, the EKBO's “Office for Church Services” has been responsible for the Ecumenical Youth Services.

Development of a work camp

A work camp usually lasts two weeks and starts on a weekend. During this time, people work on a charitable or church project for six hours on nine days. The work can e.g. B. Restoration of buildings, renovation of set-up time homes , landscape maintenance or support in the construction of artistic facilities and usually take place in the first half of the day.

After the lunch break, the participants can get to know each other better in organized group work , group and role play as well as creative work. In the evenings, spiritual and secular topics are mostly discussed. The participants can also use the local recreational opportunities and establish contact with the residents through sporting activities. You also have the opportunity to bring your ideas and wishes into the workcamp and realize them.

On the non-working weekend as well as on a non-working working day, sightseeing tours are offered or major cities such as Berlin , Leipzig and Dresden are visited. At each work camp, the ÖJD has to establish contact with the respective camport about a year in advance. In this phase, possible dates, upcoming work and available accommodations are checked. The number of participants therefore varies between 12 and 20 young adults between the ages of 18 and 26.

Independent of this phase, the volunteer camp leaders meet on three different dates a year to learn about new organizational aspects and methods. During this time, a so-called camp theme is also selected, which can be used as a guide during the camp.

The practical course of a work camp is usually organized by two to three camp leaders of both sexes and takes place around two months before the start of the camp. One month before the start of the camp, the camp leaders write a camp letter to the participants, in which organizational details and necessary souvenirs are explained. In addition to at least one German camp leader, camp leaders from other nations can also participate in the organization and implementation of a work camp. The camps usually take place between July and September at different locations in Germany. Because of the diversity of nationalities, the camp languages ​​are mostly German and English.

The workcamps are financially supported by funding providers such as the federal child and youth plan . The participants of a work camp must therefore pay a one-off registration fee of € 15 and bear the travel costs. For some groups of countries there is the option of partial funding for travel costs, which minimizes the financial outlay. Because of the entry requirements, some participants need an entry visa. With the support of the ÖJD, this can be applied for at the local German embassy.

21st century

There are currently around 8-10 workcamps with around 170 participants each year. The proportion of women is between 60–70%. Due to the social and financial restructuring after German reunification, the interest of German participants has continued to decline, so that now a good 70% of the participants come from Eastern Europe. Depending on the size of the workcamp, four to six nations are represented with up to four participants.

Former leaders

Wolf-Dietrich Gutsch

Web links

Individual evidence