March 24, 2011

Igaveseks Sõrve Laps – Forever a Sõrve child

 

This wonderful phrase, meaning  “Forever a Sõrve child”, was written across the front of the commemorative t-shirt given to every full-time camper at Sõrve 2011, the camp chosen to celebrate Sõrve’s 50th birthday. And what a birthday celebration it was with the staging of the Sõrve Suurpäev, our own Big Day Out. This day was proof positive that Sõrve holds a special place in the hearts of so many who returned after 10, 20 or 30 years and more, to see how Sõrve has changed.

In a physical sense almost everything has changed. Only 3 of the huts remain, as a contribution to preserving heritage, and they now have the addition of a small bathroom on the verandah. These huts may be of little importance to other groups who use the camp at Point Wolstoncroft, but for those of us at Sõrve who have been going there for so long, they are at the heart of many memories. The location on the Point, however, with the lake on two sides is still as beautiful as ever. And the large eucalyptus tree along with the original mealtime gong still remains, and serves as an orientation point which helps to work out where everything used to be.

As it always has, each day at Sõrve concludes with the “sõ-prusring”, the circle of friendship which unites all those at camp in a moment of quiet contemplation and gratitude. The strong sense of belonging and of being part of the Sõrve family is a unique thing to experience, and I still marvel at the easy and genuine interaction between children of all ages, from preschoolers to young adults. This engenders an environment which is safe both physically and emotionally, and the camp leadership works hard to ensure this. It is a testimony to the emotional and cultural experience that Sõrve provides that as children become young adults they are reluctant to give up their relationship with this family. Consequently the number of leaders and potential leaders is large and they are in need of more children to look after, so that they can share and pass on their love of this special phenomenon we call Sõrve.

There was a suggestion at camp of the need to revive the old slogan of “Tehke rohkem eesti lapsi”, make more Estonian children. But making these children will take time, and while we are waiting it would be great to see more of the children who have already been made! There are several grandparents who bring their grandchildren to camp to give them the opportunity to fi nd out about their ethnic background, and at the same time give their children a short break from parenting. But there is room for more. There is no shortage of “juhid” available to keep the children safe and occupied, and ensure that they sleep soundly at night. It is a relaxing and sociable time for the grandparents who can relive their own memories of Sõrve, and a good time is guaranteed for all.

This year was for me a return to the camp after 14 years and I felt proud to have been among those who attended the first camp held at Point Wolstoncroft, and therefore the fi rst ”Sõrve”, in 1962. I hope that Sõrve continues to live a long and healthy life so that one day I might have the opportunity to return again with grandchildren of my own and help perpetuate this wonderful tradition and my ethnic heritage.

 

Helen Cowman

Meie Kodu: 2nd Febraury 2011

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