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Volunteering and Festival Day [Day 8]

The volunteering day has been a part of the Y-Top itinerary for a few years now: it means that we reach out to the local community of the place we stay and offer our services, to give back to the place from which we receive so much during our gathering and hopefully leave it a bit better than we found it. Metsäkartano was really happy to hear that we had 60 people at our disposal to help in any way we could. The same day, we would be organising a festival for ourselves, the locals and other guests of Metsäkartano. So, we were divided into three groups during the first half of the day:

One group of 20 people went to the workshop of Metsäkartano to carve bird houses for the birds that reside and migrate in this area. Few of us had expected how specific the details were when it comes to making the bird houses: for instance, the interior needs to be of a rough material for the baby birds to grab onto, the hole in the front needs to be of a very specific size, and whilst it seems typical to have a little stick outside of the hole for the birds to sit on, this is highly unadvisable because it creates a way for predators to come in and grab the baby birds. What do you know?! With those and many more details in mind, we made a variety of bird houses and were able to decorate them beautifully. It was a great activity for creativity, teamwork and learning new skills.

Another group went out for a more physical project: to (re)build a wooden path accessible to wheelchairs and guests of Metsäkartano with disabilities. It meant a lot of lifting and digging, but the weather was in our favour and the nature was stunning. Less stunning were all the newly obtained mosquito bites for those who had not applied repellant before doing this job.

A third group stayed in The Ark and prepared for the festival that was to come. The previous day, we had learned that the group of 40 youth from the "Lions Club", who were staying at Metsäkartano too, would be having their own activities this day. It seemed only natural to invite them to our festival and create a platform for more international youth to unite and connect through music, art and games.

The festival itself was an accumulation of magical moments: everywhere things were happening that created meeting, sharing and experiencing not only between the Y-Top people, but also with the other youth. The whole beach of the lake, where it took place, was bathed in sunshine, despite the forecast of rain! The Lions were introduced to traditional Y-Top games; Wah! was a great success. Portraits were painted and everyone danced when the new Y-Top hit "Leo" was played. There was a fantastic atmosphere of no judgment and, in a safe and wonderful manner, stepping out of our comfort zones. For instance, in the debut performance of Ilan and Tamir - the question of when their album will be released remains unanswered.

The day was ended with a new possibility to experience the Finnish sauna, with a dip in the cool lake afterwards, and a very successful Open Mind Passion by Josefine, in the form of a massage session by candle light in The Ark, which lasted for hours and sent us off to bed extremely relaxed. It was a great day, for all of us.

Correspondent of the day: Celeste (Denmark)

What did I do during the volunteering day? I joined the festival preparation. We started our process by singing a song, Imagine by John Lennon, to get into the mood. We made signs for the different stands we wanted to have on the beach; for instance, we had a bracelet stand, an Eye-Fi stand*, face painting and body painting and hairstyles. PH did poems: he would ask people some things about themselves and he would write a poem about it.

We placed benches on the beach, made a fire and placed all the stands - including different stands for the Seeds and their Toolboxes we had been working on, to give our guests an impression and physical examples of our what values and aims we are working on this year. It was perfect: the sun was on the right spot and everything was kind of magical.

Later, the group of young people (the Lions) came. At first they were a bit shy and there was still a division between Y-Top people and "them", but this melted away very quickly when we started with some games, like volley ball and Wah!, and everyone joined and mixed naturally.

* Eye-Fi, as opposed to Wi-Fi, has been a returning thing of the Y-Top festival for some years now: it means two people sit across each other on chairs and, in silence, make eye contact. It can last many minutes. It is a beautiful moment of appreciating each other without speaking and opening up to each other by looking into their eyes.

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