If you volunteer with or are part of a community group in Scotland, then you are eligible to apply for a unique camp in Cornwall.
Applications are now open for the Eden Project Community Camp in November – with even more places available this year for people from Scotland.
The fully funded camp includes all return travel to Cornwall, accommodation at the Eden Project, delicious healthy food and all of the activities.
Participants can look forward to three days of inspiring talks, workshops, creative activities and story sharing with around 60 other community activists and organisers.
Since they were first founded in 2014, there have been 24 camps providing fully funded places for 1440 activists from communities across the UK – 250 of them from Scotland.
You may be wondering what’s the catch? There isn’t one, as Scotland manager Sandra Brown explained.
“Sometimes people think there is a hidden catch – there’s no such thing as a free lunch – but there’s no catch. All the costs are covered.
“The only stipulation is that camps are specifically for people volunteering in their community or who have set up social enterprises or community businesses and are hoping to take their project further, looking for inspiration or to be part of a growing network of community activists.
“However big or small your project, as long as you’re making positive change in your community or have a plan to do so, then you are eligible to take part.
“We bring together people from all over the country, working on a voluntary basis in their communities, often in isolation.
“By meeting other like-minded people at camp, they create their own networks – people who are all engaged and enthusiastic about making changes in their own home towns.
“We don’t ask anything in return – people don’t have to write big reports and are not monitored once they leave.
“But we know through social media the impact attending camp has as we can follow their progress.
“Many people return home and become catalysts for change in their local communities.
“The tentacles from camp are far-reaching and we know people go on to do some amazing things.
“So we can guarantee, 100 per cent, that people will leave camp inspired to make a difference.”
While being offered help to develop their ideas is a key element, often it’s the friendships that are forged that mean the most.
Sandra said: “People keep in touch with each other and it becomes a real network of support for them.
“We now have more than 1000 supportive, inspiring and creative people who are running a wide variety of community projects across the country.”
By creating connections, people share ideas on how to engage and empower others, support each other and find motivation to keep going.
Katie Swann, Eden Project community network developer, said: “Attending a community camp is a lovely opportunity to establish new connections, discover new skills and share stories with other really inspirational people who have made, or want to make, positive changes in their communities.
“The feedback we get is that the whole experience is fun and encouraging and that participants go back home with a spring in their step, ready to support each other and share what they’ve learned.
“There are also follow-up events, training and networking opportunities and a national event for network members each year.
“So once you’ve attended one of the camps, you can stay connected with even more network members.”
The Eden Project Communities is an initiative made possible by the National Lottery.
The November camp is now open for applications. It runs from Friday, November 22, to Monday, November 25, with a deadline of October 18.
Sandra is hoping that more people from Scotland will apply.
She added: “Camp supports people to make positive change, while connecting with one another and the world around them.
“It’s a great opportunity for people who want to kick-start positive action – giving them the chance to gain valuable skills and boost their confidence.
“I’d love more people from Scotland to sign up as I know how much others have benefited from attending.
“It’s a free weekend away on a beautiful site – and it’s often life-changing.”
Those who want to find out more should email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
To apply for a place at the camp, visit www.edenprojectcommunities.com/community-camps.
Nurturing people to work together
The Eden Project, an educational charity and social enterprise, creates gardens, exhibitions, art, events, experiences and projects that explore how people can work together, as well as with nature, towards a better future.
Its first project was making a 35-acre global garden in a 50m-deep crater that was once a china clay pit, to demonstrate transformation, regeneration and the art of the possible.
The project is inspired by the belief that people are more than capable of changing things for the better.
Through creating Eden, the team have learned what ingenuity, resourcefulness, hope and determination can do.
A spokeswoman said: “We all know that the 21st century brings many challenges: food security, moving and rising populations, plant and animal extinctions, rising energy costs, an ageing population, economic shifts and the increased risk of climate change.
“These challenges will demand the best from all of us; our creativity, ingenuity, understanding, science, enterprise, humanity and our ability to work together. “Through Eden Project Communities we support ordinary people to do extraordinary things as they build their skills and confidence to create positive change where they live.”
To find out more, visit www.edenprojectcommunities.com.