From July 11th to July 19th for the first time, we embarked on an adventure meant to bring together Blue Heron scholarship recipients from different corners of Romania: Suceava, Iasi, Cluj, Brasov, Sibiu, Bucuresti and Constanta. Our goal was to celebrate our students’ achievements over the year and give them an opportunity to know each other, as each and every young man and woman in our program shares a difficult past and a strong spirit that has transported them into a stable present and a hopeful future.

The camp was the end-of-the-year gift to our students, carried out in collaboration with AED LUDENS, an organization with more than ten years experience in innovative educational programs.

We gathered in the middle of the inspiring wilderness of Cheile Rasnoavei (Brasov county) to lead and take part in workshops on professional and self development (job hunting skills, networking and entrepreneurship, fundraising for projects, etiquette, communication and emotional intelligence, self image, public speech). In addition, we discussed topics of interest as requested by the participants during our evening club sessions, we participated in artistic activities (drama, drums) and sports (dancing, horseback riding, hiking, team games).

The camp was coordinated by Stefania Magidson, President of the Blue Heron Foundation and the founders of AED LUDENS, actor Adrian Paduraru and psychologist Daniela Serban Tordoi. The seminars and workshops were held by Daniela Serban Tordoi, Adrian Paduraru, Mihaela Constantinescu, psychologist and director of the Blue Heron mentorship program, Mike Costache, Vice-President of the Blue Heron Foundation, Mirela Cioran, dance instructor, Mihai Axinte, actor, Alexandra Arnautu, managing partner at If Magic, Ada Lungu, communication specialist, Teddy Necula, film director.

Mike Costache, who in addition to Blue Heron Fundraising Director is also President of Miss Universe Romania, joined us along with Oana Paveluc, the newly crowned Miss Universe Romania 2010. One of Oana’s new responsibilities is to spread the word about our foundation’s mission and efforts. During camp, Oana met with the students in our program and promised to take their message to the world. This year their message was “to not give up on us”.

Even though most of the activities were brand new experiences for our young participants, they rose up to the challenge with great enthusiasm – whether they involved acting improvisations, simulations of professional situations, horseback riding or shooting a film.

The summer camp is the latest addition to the many facets of the Blue Heron Scholarship Program, all developed in an effort to maximize our students’ success in transitioning to a productive, self-reliant life.

On this occasion, Blue Heron students met for the first time their colleagues from other counties. Alumni welcomed newcomers. We witnessed friendships being born, experiences shared, solutions and encouragements offered. Separated groups have now become a community that provides each of its members with the chance to ask and receive help, to come up with ideas and get involved in the Foundation’s activity.

The students who have only been accepted in the program this year were delighted to meet the Blue Heron community: scholarship recipients, organizers and trainers. They appreciated the opportunity to communicate and to re-discover themselves through others, to be part of a group that values each of its members, to discover useful and novel perspectives on their professional future.

The participants’ enthusiasm and motivation exceeded expectations and made the summer camp a successful experience. We hope to make the Blue Heron Summer Camp an annual tradition.

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