The History of International Workcamps
Did you ever wonder where workcamps come from from and since when they exist? The idea goes back to the engineer and pacifist Pierre Cérésole who, in 1920, organised the very first international project on the doorsteps of Verdun with volunteers from France, Switzerland, England and Germany. With the first World War having ended only a couple of months before, this idea and effort can be considered a brave step towards reconciliation and reconstruction at that time. And still today, workcamps carry those roots in their spirit. They are a very special tool to work towards mutual understanding, peace and solidarity beyond borders.
100 years – that is 10 decades marked by very different political, societal and economic developments and changes, technical evolution, fears and opportunities, new peace treaties and new wars over the globe. 100 years of workcamps also means 100 years of bringing together people from all over the world and with different backgrounds. It means enabling exchange and dialogue, affecting volunters from abroad and those of the local project place, creating friendships and even families. 100 years of workcamps means millions of individual stories of discovering, understanding and learning, and of dedicating one's free time to work together on making the world a little bit better.
What do workcamps mean to you?
No workcamp could take place without motivated volunteers, engaged campleaders and trainers, dedicated local hosts, and many more involved in making this hapen. That’s why we want to celebrate this anniversary together with all those indispensable persons and in diverse ways:
A decade of workcamp volunteering
Sue participated in her first international workcamp when she was a teenager. Her experience in Estonia motivated her to discover even more places and that is how a decade long love for workcamps started:
Why did you join a workcamp?
Sue: "When I volunteered in my first workcamp in Estonia, my driver was curiosity. I was 16 and I wanted to explore the world. I had never been to Estonia...
Volunteering in a Greek village and a song by the Pixies
Carina participated in her first international workcamp in 2003. What started out as general interest in learning about the world and doing something to make it better, turned into a lifelong passion: Carina went on to join several other camps and was the president of IBG for many years. Read about her first volunteering experiene in Greece here:
Why did you join a workcamp?
“Deeds not Words” and hitchhiking from Belgium to Italy
Have you ever wondered how the workcamp world looked like 30 years ago? No Google Maps to find the meeting point, no infosheets via email, no mobile phones to stay in touch with your friends and family at home... In 1986, Paolo from Italy volunteered in his first workcamp in Fleurus, Begium. He's been an active volunteer for SCI Italy, as well as other Italian workcamp organizations...
How small things can make a big difference in the world
Sheila took part in an international workcamp for the first time in 1986 after coming across a small newspaper advertisement for a volunteering project in Germany rather by chance. And Sheila has been part of the world of volunteering ever since. From 1988 to 2016, Sheila directed the Welsh workcamp organization UNA Exchange. Read about the impression Sheila's first workcamp made...
Fantasy festival in France and organizing a workcamp in your own home town
Maria volunteered in her first workcamp as a teenager. Together with a group of other international volunteers, she supported a fantasy festival in the small town of Billom, France, in 2007. Since then, she has been actively involved in IBG and even organised a workcamp in her own home town in Germany a couple years later. We asked her to tell us her workcamp story.
Why did you join a...
International Workcamps: History Of A Peace Movement
In autumn 1920, the Swiss pacifist Pierre Cérésole organized the first international workcamp together with like-minded young people.
The aim of the group was to help rebuild the village of Esnes, near Verdun, which was destroyed in the First World War. Volunteers from France, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland pitched in together - a commitment that was not only welcomed,...
Tell us your workcamp story!
Egal ob du letztes Jahr in deinem ersten Workcamp warst, oder vor 50 Jahren in den allerersten IBG-Camps mit angepackt hast - erzähl uns, warum du dich freiwillig engagierst und was das Workcamp bei dir bewirkt hat. Wir freuen uns über deine persönliche Workcamp-Geschichte und/oder treffen dich gern für ein Interview! Melde dich dazu einfach direkt bei uns.