Community Camp is all about making connections: bringing like-minded people from across the UK together to inspire, educate, and share with one another.
Before the pandemic 60 awesome people from across the UK arrived at Eden for one such weekend but little did we know that for two of our Campers, it would turn out to be more of a reunion! This is a story about Jo and Becca, two friends from Wales who had fallen out of touch over the years, and how Community Camp brought them back together again.
How do you know each other?
Joanna: We were best friends and used to live together in Leicester in the late 1990s. We were ‘family’.
Becca: We last saw each other about 18 years ago. We worked out that we had been together for the millennium new year, but then we had lost touch soon afterwards. These were the days before we had mobile phones, never mind Facebook!
And where did you meet again?
B: I walked past Jo on the platform at Newport [on her way to Community Camp at Eden]. I thought it looked like her, but why on earth would she be there?! Anyway, I got on the train: it was mayhem, people looking for their seats, oversized luggage, you name it. I ended up walking down a carriage towards my seat and Jo was walking towards me. There was no doubt that it was her!
J: We then realised we were both on our way to Eden and I don’t think we stopped for breath until we got there!
B: We kept on looking at each other in disbelief; it was an amazing, sort of out of body experience.
Why do you think you both ended up at Camp together? It’s quite a coincidence!
J: We probably always had the same sorts of ideals when we were younger, although I’d say some higher force made us attend the same camp.
B: I don’t think either of us were ever going to be corporate types, so it’s not surprising we’ve ended up doing what we do! Even our paid work is connected with wellbeing and supporting others.
What inspired you both to apply?
J: It looked like an amazing opportunity to become involved in a wider network of people working for change. I also really wanted to go to the Eden Project!
B: The opportunity to network and collaborate with others sounded really attractive and I had been feeling a little exhausted with a full time and full on job, running a community group, and renovating my house. I thought the weekend would give me some thinking time and some inspiration.
What community project or idea are you currently working on?
J: A local community project called Greener Tywyn Gwyrdd, dedicated to raising awareness of environmental issues and working with the community to make local changes that can help impact globally.
B: My group is Keep Riverside Tidy. Riverside is an urban neighbourhood right next to Cardiff City centre; it's part of a larger ward with the north side being very affluent and the south (our side) being one of the most deprived in Wales. Our aims are to improve the physical appearance and street scene of Riverside, to make ' no litter' the norm not the exception and to encourage behaviour change through innovative street design.
What did you take away from Camp?
B: the very strong feeling that there are some amazing people out there doing amazing stuff all across the UK and beyond, that I'm not alone and that together we will achieve some amazing things.
J: a new fire in my belly for our project and lots of ideas to share with my group. I think the things I've learned will help to drive things forward and help us to regain some momentum after a busy summer.
So, what’s next for the pair of you and your friendship?
J: we lived in different times before, we didn’t have the ease of connection that people have now and lives could drift apart a lot more easily. Of course we’ll stay in touch now: I’m looking forward to meeting up again really soon.
B: Jo and I will definitely keep in touch – I’m actually chatting to Jo on text as I'm writing this and she's just updated me on what she's doing this week. I'm sure we'll meet up in the next few months as well, where Jo lives just happens to be one of my favourite areas of Wales so I can't wait to visit. Hope that's OK Jo?!
And, finally, if you could describe Community Camp in one sentence for someone who hasn’t been, what would you say?
J: A truly mind-blowing and inspirational experience.
B: A once in a lifetime experience that left me feeling emotional, capable, inspired, energised and humbled. I will never, ever forget it.