My CISV Summer Village Camp Experience – by Francois Murrell

When I first heard that I was going to a CISV Summer Village camp, I was so excited. This would be my first trip in a plane. It was really cool when we received the first pre-camp email with pictures of where I was going  to stay, lots of information about camp, and the countries that would be there.

A CISV Summer Village camp is a month-long camp for 11 year olds. 12 countries are invited to each camp, and bring a delegation of two boys and two girls, and their leader, usually a young adult from their local CISV chapter. My delegation consisted of myself, Kayla Nash, Oli MacCallum, Acasia O’Connell, and our leader Sophie Presland, a university student. We met up about five times before our departure to get to know each other and prepare our NZ presentation.

On the day I was leaving, I woke feeling nervous but excited at the same time. I left school early and had a rest because my flight was leaving close to midnight. At the airport I met up with my delegation, said goodbye to our families and hopped on the plane. The trip was about 30 hours long, stopping in Shanghai and Zurich. I watched the LEGO MOVIE eight times. The first time flushing a plane toilet gave me a fright!

We arrived in Barcelona on a Thursday evening, and were picked up by our homestay family, and taken to their beach house for the weekend. That night I was so tired I fell asleep in my pasta bowl in front of everybody! The family had one boy called Hector (7), and the parents names were Francesc and Marta. We spent the weekend swimming, relaxing and recovering. On Sunday evening, we were taken to camp, which was at Escola de Bosc, a school on Monjuic hill overlooking the city. When we arrived, there were already some delegations there who welcomed us to camp. Then we were taken to our rooms, which were classrooms filled with mattresses. We all gathered in the dining hall for a quick dinner, and started to get to know each other.


Camp was run by the leaders of the twelve country delegations, five Spanish staff, and six Junior Counsellors (JC’s) from around the world. Every day would start at 8am with the ‘Delegation of the Day’ playing loud music to wake us up for FLAGTIME at 8.20am. At FLAGTIME, we hold hands and sing the CISV SONG which was composed by Doris Allen, the founder of CISV (see attached sheet for song lyrics). Breakfast of cereal and bread was at 8.30am followed by cleaning. We were sorted into cleaning groups which cleaned a different area of the camp each day. In the mornings we usually did a fun group activity which had a big learning objective behind it such as trust, justice, inequality and learning to get along with each other. This was followed by about 45 minutes of freetime, then lunch at 12.30pm, which was the main meal of the day and always contained olives….Yuck!! After lunch we had a one hour SIESTA, where we had to find a quiet activity or rest. 3pm till 5.30pm was a mixture of similar fun activities to the morning ones, plus some freetime, snacks, and a chance to visit the camp shop which sold lollies and drinks. Compulsory showertime was scheduled somewhere between 5.30pm and 6.30pm and there were no curtains on the cubicles… EEEK! At 6.30pm till 7.30pm each night we had ‘Delegation Time’ with our groups, planning our National Nights and dealing with anything that needed discussing. 7.30pm was dinner, which was similar to lunch, and sometimes also contained olives! The food was regular camp food, such as rice or pasta dishes and vegetables/salad, and olives!! There was always dessert with dinner. On each country’s national night, there was usually some kind of national dish or dessert served at dinner. 8.30p, was cleaning time, followed by our last activity, LULLABIES (sing song time), and bedtime at 10.30pm.


  • OUR ACTIVITIES and games usually had an educational purpose. In one game we were given ‘birth certificates’ from a certain continent. Mine was Africa. The African group had one chair for 6 people and we had to find a way to all sit on it together. Asia had 27 chairs and 26 people, and Europe had 15 chairs for two people, etc. The chairs represented the wealth of each country vs the number of people. Another game, we were woken by the JC’s putting a coloured wristband on some of us. This represented our wealth. ‘Rich people’ had the wristbands, allowing them to have anything they wanted for breakfast, and to eat as much as they wanted. They could also use the leaders’ ‘nice’ toilets, and could do any activity they wanted. The rest  were ‘poor people’, and had only breadcrusts for breakfast, and were kept in an enclosure of chairs with no fun activities available. At lunch, the poor people got a set amount of food and water. The rich people had fizzy drinks and as much food as they wanted. The rich could share their lunch with the poor people, and most did. Luckily I was one of the rich people, but I could see how unhappy the poor people were.
  • BEACH DAY: The whole camp of 71 people went to the beach one day, via the Metro underground train. I thought the train was really cool. At the beach we went swimming in the big surf and had heaps of fun with our friends.
  • CRAZY OLYMPICS: The leaders, JC’s and staff dressed up in togas as Greek Gods. We were split into four teams with one kid from each delegation in each team of 12. Our teams played crazy sports such as water balloon volleyball, ‘Drip, drip drop’, and lots of water games and water fights. We didn’t mind getting wet because it was around 30oC, like most days in Barcelona.
  • COSMO CAIXA is the awesome Space and Science Museum in Barcelona. We spent the whole day there. My favourite thing was the 3D Space Movie.
  • ILLA FANTASIA: this trip was to the massive water park in Barcelona with tonnes of awesome water slides and pools. My favourite was the massive 40m high slide that went down to a pool. We never wanted to leave, it was so cool!
  • OPEN DAY: this is a day where all the member families of the Barcelona CISV chapter get to come and visit the village. All the delegations dress in national costume and put on a national performance, and have an information stand about their country with food, posters and giveaways etc. Our delegation performed some Maori actions songs and I performed a Haka by myself in front of everyone. We had an NZ stand with ‘chips and dip’, Minties and Pineapple Lumps, and books and info about NZ. The local TV station came, and we were on Catalonian TV.
  • NATIONAL NIGHT: we performed our songs and our Haka for the camp, ran a NZ quiz, had fish and chips for dinner, and showed everyone our short videos about each of our families, homes, pets, etc.
  • SHOPPING DAY: We had a day in a mall to buy gifts for our families and stuff
  • CAMP VIDEO: we made a camp video to the Hit song ‘HAPPY’. We dressed in silly clothes and one of the leaders organized us into small groups, placed throughout the camp. She then filmed us dancing and singing to the music of the song in one take, as she moved through the camp filming, and each group jumped in and danced for their section of the song. The result is an awesome camp video to remember everyone by.
  • MASS: I managed to get to Mass on three Sundays thanks to my supportive leader and host families. At one church, myself and the leaders that took me, said a prayer each in front of everyone.
  • PRANKS: We were allowed to play pranks on groups of people at camp but not on individuals. eg: One day we were having a group photo and the leaders tipped 4 buckets of water on our heads from the windows above us. There were lots of pranks!!


Two weeks after we arrived at camp, we had a second homestay, this time we went with a friend from another delegation. My best friend was Magnus from Norway. We had our homestay weekend with a family who lived in a city apartment. The parents were called Claudia and Jorge, and they had two children, Victor (14) and Sofia (15). Victor was away on another CISV camp in Canada. They took us to an old Spanish village where we attended their small niece’s birthday. We also went to a historical museum with lots of old galleons and sailing ships, and we also spent a day at the beach with other CISV families and their homestay kids. They did all my washing, and fed me really nice Spanish food, which was a change from camp food.

Back at camp our roommates had been changed around so we would get to know new people. Our schedule was much like the first two weeks. We knew everyone much better by now and had made some excellent friends. My best friends were Magnus and Tobias from Norway, Fox from Denmark (a JC), Gustav from Estonia, Geo from Philippines, and Click from Thailand. On the last night of camp, we all sat in a circle outside and we lit candles. One by one, each of us made a speech about camp and how we felt about leaving. I felt really sad knowing that in 24 hours, all of us would not be together anymore. There was a lot of crying even from the leaders. We all went to bed in the main hall and the next day our delegation was the first to leave. I was sad to leave my friends behind. There were lots of hugs and tears. I didn’t want to go home, I wanted camp to last forever.


Barcelona is the most beautiful city I have seen because it is so different and old. It was really hot most of the time, around 30oC. I liked the Metro system. The city had no skyscrapers, but lots of beautiful old buildings and churches. The beaches were really nice too.


Since camp, I feel like I have a bigger awareness of how people are treated differently in different parts of the world. We did a lot of activities about global justice and inequality. When I learnt about how little some people have, I was glad that I live in NZ where everyone is treated equally. I realised that some delegations came from countries where some people were very poor and lived on the streets, such as Thailand, Phillipines, Columbia, Brasil. I wish I could change the world and help all the people in need.

I am more independent and confident since my CISV camp experience. I had to live with people I didn’t know at first, and people who were different to me. I had to look after all my own stuff, and I never lost anything! I learnt to eat what I was given and be grateful. I suddenly realised how big the world was and how small and far way NZ is, and how small our population is. I appreciate my big home and garden is not ‘normal’ in many other parts of the world. I realise how lucky I am now.

Published by CISV NZ

CISV educates and inspires action for more just and peaceful world.

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