Ráckeve, a small town by the banks of the Danube just outside Budapest, might never have seen as many talents as on 11 August 2019, when the 16 children participating in this year’s sleepover Knapsack Camp arrived at the location of the K Factor. Children from Litke, Sajókaza and Lácacséke, as well as from other villages and cities within and outside the borders of Hungary, came with the purpose of growing and developing, learning and experiencing new things, and, ultimately, of showing everyone just what a Knapsacker is made of at the end-of-the-week talent show. Of course, there was also plenty of time for fun, friendships and lots of bathing in the Danube.
As in other years, the nurturing of the young talents was achieved through a series of varied activities. Among other things, the children learnt about other countries and cultures, or about art history, as well as making some art themselves: they painted the landscape of Ráckeve in the style of different painters. They got the chance to develop their digital skills during the “Photoshop” activity, which also made them realise that we should not believe everything on the internet, not even when we see it with our own eyes. Their logic, cognitive skills and teamworking abilities were tested whilst they were looking for the Wizard’s hidden treasure or controlling injured robots in order to complete certain tasks.
Our two excursions to Budapest were also not spent only running around the playground, no matter how much fun it was. The children went on a celebrity treasure hunt, getting to know our capital better in the process. We also went to the National Meteorological Institute, where we talked about the weather, climate and how it changes, as well as to the National Ambulance Service, getting to see not only the inside of an ambulance, but also the basics of giving first aid. A superb drama pedagogy activity at the Round Table Theatre meanwhile allowed the children to think through and enact various potential endings to a story performed by the profesionnal actors.
The campers also undertook one of our four week-long group projects with daily meetings as part of their T Factor education. The Crew (production team) project involved getting to know the world of news and the media, and its end result was a video capturing and chronicling the real and purported events of the camp. Button Up, Button Again was all about environmental awareness, and our kids proved themselves to be quite the eco-designers: they created new clothing out of old fabric, and even wore some of their creations during the camp. The Teach the Volunteers group sought to educate the volunteers for a change rather than the participating children, and their teachings were about optimism, joy and positive thinking. Finally, the fourth group learnt about economics and money management through a board game where they had to head their own farm, as well as during a visit paid to the local market.
Everyone was in high spirits at the talent show at the end of the week, which gave the young talents the opportunity to present their projects, as well as to prove that they are also skilled in music, dance or sports. Not that their talent came as a surprise to anyone. Neither did the fact that the friendhsips formed during the camp also continued afterwards, even online in the case of the children from different places.