Nature Study & Language Camp
From Szentes we left at 8 am on Sunday morning for Jászberény, from where the three groups continued their journey together to our camp in Kőszeg. When we arrived after the long journey, we got settled in our rooms, got to know the camp site, had the camp opening ceremony, where we met Péter Illés, Balázs Keszei and Sándor Bancsó, who will be with us throughout the week and will lead the programmes. During free time with our small mentors, the boys played soccer, the girls shot hoops, and some played board games in the courtyard.
Dancsó Zsanett, Horvát Krisztina, Bihari Kamilla Hajnalka Szentes Group 2
07.03. – MONDAY
On Monday morning we went hiking, our destination was the oldest point of Kőszeg, the Óház-tető. The walk through the forest was a bit tiring, but we hardly noticed it, as our guides told us a lot of interesting facts about the flora, mushrooms and insects of the Kőszeg Hills. The lookout tower of the Old House was built on the site of the old Kőszeg castle and offers a wonderful view of the area. After we had all enjoyed the view and had a rest, a little rain helped us to get going again. The next stop on our tour was the Seven Springs. Since the spring’s socket was made to commemorate the millennium of the conquest, it also bears the name of the seven chiefs. We all filled our canteens and bottles here. And the cool spring water gave us the impetus to walk back to the bus at the end of the tour. Back at the hostel, after a hearty lunch and some rest, the children took part in English and German language sessions. On the day, the campers took a level test so that we can work with them on their skills in the future. Afterwards, we also took a walk around the centre of Kőszeg, visited the sights of the town and went up to the Suleyman’s Lookout, where we also had a look at the town. We learned a lot about the history and famous figures of Kőszeg. We ended the day with a delicious dinner and a lot of sport and conversation.
As if continuing from the previous day, we went hiking on Tuesday. After a short bus ride, we took a pleasant walk to St. Vid’s Chapel, where our guides again shared many interesting facts with us. The children also learned about the flora of the area and the history of the place. St Vid’s Hill and the surrounding area have been inhabited for centuries, so many exciting archaeological finds have been unearthed here, including a gold diadem that may have once belonged to a princess, and bronze tools were also found during the excavations. From the church we continued our journey, our goal for the day being to climb the Written Stone. This was a little more challenging than the hike on Monday, but the view at the top made up for the effort. It was particularly interesting for the children that one half of the lookout is in Hungary and the other half is now part of Austria, the border being marked for us by the border stone. No border guards, but the rain did hold us up at the lookout. Once the rain had stopped, we walked back to the bus and headed back to the hostel. We rested here for a short while, then walked into downtown Kőszeg to top off a tiring day with an ice cream.
Wednesday was a day of learning for the campers from Kőszeg. In the morning, the children attended biology and biochemistry classes. They learned about the BISEL test and its methods, the macroinvertebrates in water, and then used their knowledge to determine the purity of a water sample. Using spoons, the children searched for small animals and bugs in the water, as the BISEL test uses a table to determine the pollution of the water based on the number of organisms present. Our sample fell into water quality class II, which means it was slightly polluted. And in biochemistry class, the children isolated DNA from bananas using liquid soap, salt and cold rubbing alcohol, among other things. The precipitated DNA was clearly visible in the test tubes. Uncle Nicholas also visited us, joined the experimenters and spent the day with us. After the lessons, we visited the Chernel Garden and the Bechtold István Nature Visitor Centre in the morning. In the afternoon, learning continued with German and English language sessions, where the children worked in small groups on projects related to Kőszeg, which they will later present to each other. In the evening we went out for ice cream again, and not only was our ice cream dripping, but it was raining. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play football this time, but our mood remained cheerful despite the gloomy weather thanks to the evening’s socialising and chatting.
07.06. – THURSDAY
Thursday started a little earlier than our previous days. In the morning we went to the Tömörd Bird Observatory for a bird ringing. Here we split into two groups and took turns to walk around the area around the birdwatching tower. Again, our guides taught us a lot about birds and bird ringing, but it was also a great opportunity to learn the names and characteristics of the plants we had already learned about during the week, and to learn about new ones. After a hearty lunch, the language tests began. The task was to present previously prepared projects and presentations in both English and German, and all the children completed the tasks and thus the exam with great skill, showing a lot of improvement on last year’s language camp. In the late afternoon, we also had a tour of the castle in Kőszeg and visited the exhibitions set up there. After dinner we had ice cream again, and the rest of the evening was spent playing football, socialising and chatting as before.
07.07. – FRIDAY
The last full day of the camp was particularly full. On Friday morning, our first stop was the Pan-European Picnic. Here we walked around the memorial site and experienced the significance of the cutting of the Iron Curtain separating East and West on 19 August 1989. From there we went to the quarry at Fertőrákos, where there is also a monument to the Pan-European Picnic. Unity in need, freedom in doubt, love in everything – it reads in Latin. At the same time, we were also able to learn about the history and the story of the quarry, and what was built from the Lajta limestone quarried from the quarry. And what creatures were found millions of years ago in the Pannonian basin, which used to cover a large area of our country. From the quarry, we went to a birdwatching tower on the outskirts of Fertőújlak, where we could observe the birdlife of Lake Fertő through binoculars and learn a little about the flora and fauna of the salt marshes. Afterwards, we also had a walk in the garden of the Esterházy Castle in Fertőd. We returned to the hostel for dinner. After everyone had had enough to eat, we held the now traditional camp Ki-what-tay. Here the children showed how talented we can be in so many different ways, as some of them performed a poem, a dance, a comedy sketch or even a Rubik’s Cube. All the performers were very skilful. However, not only did the kids put on a little show, but the mentors and mini-mentors made a hilarious video throughout the week without the campers’ knowledge. The good mood was maintained after the Ki-what-you-know, with everyone taking advantage of the extended curfew and chatting and socialising animatedly.
07.08. – SATURDAY
On Saturday morning, in addition to the suitcases and backpacks we had brought with us, we also loaded the bus with the many memories we had acquired during the week, and with them we headed home to Jászberény, Szentes and Szeged. And so we left behind us a varied, exciting and full of activities camp.
Izabella Patyi, student of the Szeged group