Youth Summer Camps on Intangible Heritage (UNESCO Associated Schools) June — July 007
Organisers: Lithuanian National Commission for UNESCO and Lithuanian Folk Culture Centre
Partners: Žemaitija and Aukštaitija National Parks
Participants: UNESCO associated schools
In the contemporary Lithuanian society family looses its function of transmitting intangible heritage. The population in villages as the main preserver of traditions gradually declines. In this context the school should get more significance in safeguarding, reviving and ensuring transmission of traditional culture and intangible heritage from generation to generation. Regretfully, the traditional culture and arts education are not given enough importance in the basic education programmes. The process of integration of teaching intangible heritage and arts education is only on its first steps in Lithuania. Meanwhile, not only society, but also decision makers recognize the importance of traditional arts education in promoting better understanding of cultural diversity, civic education and tolerance. There are many discussions on how to achieve the process of integration of teaching intangible heritage in the schools.
In this context the key role should be attributed to the complementary education including summer youth camps. In Lithuania there are numerous youth camps, but only a few of them are specialised in teaching folk culture. However, even these have a limited target group, namely folk groups’ members, folk musicians or those who are especially interested in this field. There are still no wildly accessible summer youth camps oriented at teaching intangible heritage and encouraging its interpretation.
In public discourse the cultural identity is usually conceived as exclusively national property. However, apart of national identities, there are also regional, ethnic identities and dialects which are the most endangered in the context of globalisation. In Lithuania, distinction between regional cultures and dialects are disappearing due to the development of urban zones, conglomeration and globalisation. Therefore, the summer youth camps learning about cultural similarities and differences of two main Lithuanian ethnographical regions would be of great relevance. Through getting knowledge about particularities of traditional culture in their near neighbourhood children would be motivated to respect other cultures. Many investigations in this field prove that better acquaintance with traditional culture, suchlike practices and experiences positively influence youth moral values related to the civic society and quality of life. It also strengthens resistance to the destructive phenomena of pop culture.
The project of youth summer camps learning traditional culture would also draw attention at the importance of competences. The education system suffers from the lack of competences in the field of teaching intangible heritage and traditional culture. Therefore, the project would be lead by proficient specialists, craftsmen and pedagogues of this domain. It would be a pilot project aimed at creating methodical basis for further summer youth camps focused on intangible heritage. After having familiarised with the results of this pilot project, non -governmental organisations working in the field of youth summer camps would be facilitated in applying good practices and would be stimulated to take more active part in transmitting intangible cultural heritage processes.
The pilot project “Youth Summer Camps: Transmission of Intangible Heritage” would comprise 2 regional summer camps, which would take place June - July 2007. Each camp would last 10 days and would invite 40 children of 12 -14 years old (6-7 classes) from 8 UNESCO associated schools in Lithuania. The camps will be organised in two national parks whose biological and cultural diversity would attract children and enrich their creativeness.
UNESCO associated schools in Lithuania are mostly located in little villages. Usually the summer camps are costly and families living in rural zones can not afford paying these camps for their children. This project “Youth Summer Camps: Transmission of Intangible Heritage” could be accessed by families living in rural areas regardless their social status.
The main aim of this project is promotion of regional cultures inside country by stimulating curiosity and respect towards own and other cultures, developing creative skills of children.
The participants of the camps will be selected following the results of the contest to be organised before summer camps. The contest will invite children to take the test about traditional culture and its manifestations in Lithuania. The most motivated children will be requested to present their handicrafts (painting, textile, knitting, needlework, carving etc.), essay or photography on the theme “What do I understand by traditional folk art?”.
Children would learn traditional crafts, music, customs, theatre, gastronomy, cultural history, dialects. Skills, experiences and knowledge would be acquired through playing games, performing attractive tasks and other activities. The camps would comprise the main workshops such as: ceramics, carving, textile, smithery, theatre etc. In the end of the camp each child should present his or her work in the common exhibition or during the final event/performance. Apart of the main workshops there will be complementary workshops of traditional gastronomy, medicine etc., meetings with storytellers, excursions to the ethnographic museums or hikes to the unique sites of natural heritage located in the National parks.
The leaders of camps would be experts of intangible heritage, specialists from the Lithuanian Folk Culture Centre, craftsmen, performers, local people/“living treasures” etc. The organisers of the camps endeavour to ensure the continuity of the project by filming and documenting it. In addition, it is foreseen to produce a CD or video tape, which should be distributed to the NGO’s and other organisation in concern inviting them to take charge of organising further summer camps on intangible heritage.