Camps are wonderful projects for young people to develop. In order to gain retention of young people we experienced it as crucial to give them a space (physical, financial, connections & time) where they can be creative, develop self-efficacy and be among themselves. Preparing camps (e.g. for children) is a perfect set. During the planning period people can work via internet and meet at weekends.
One Page Summary
In order to participate in a community one does not have to live in it full time. That is what I experienced with my team the past 5 years. In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern we experience similar problems as you describe in Friesland. With 19 years I sat down with some friends thinking about "something" we could do in order to deal with this process. It hurt us being robbed by our home, because we had to leave to study to Berlin, Hamburg etc. However we loved our rural region, but it is not fun being there alone, if all your friends are somewhere in the cities. We came up with the idea to organize a kidscamp.
1. Camps are organized as projects. You commit your participation for one year and than it is possible to step out.
2. Most work can be done online (facebook, Basecamp).
3. We could meet every two - three month to plan, organize, communicate and build friendships.
4. We do something good for children (Identity building, education for sustainable development...)
5. We learn important skills (team skills, project management...)
6. We shape the community (self-efficacy) through children, media, social media
Our success story:
We started with a team of 8. Meanwhile we are more than 60 volunteers (14-26 years). Beside meeting for "business" deep friendships were build and people meet to share visions, develop new projects, going on holiday together or just have fun. Five volunteers from the team are returning to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in the upcoming weeks after studying abroad. Another one wants to do his social service in the initiative. The interest in social media for our projects is big and more and more volunteers want to join from the region but also from all over Germany. The projects are a main driver for the identification with the region, as the volunteers have shaped it themselves.
Why do I believe this could work in Friesland as well?
I experienced that young people love to do something good with friends. The feeling to be part of something bigger is great; but it is more: I believe the secret of binding youth is not to offer something but to let grow. No one from the team ever got money, but everyone has the chance to contribute their thoughts, to shape and to create. In 2018 we will do 7 projects, 3 are international but connected to the local community. All of ideas grew in the team and are led by young members from the team. Creating space is the key. That means to offer money, scholarships or a building, but not tell the youth how the results should look like. It must be their vision. Than at a bonfire or while going swimming together an idea is born, "Why don't we do a festival...?", "We should have one week together and build a tree house", "I would like to go to South Africa to a town ship. We could learn so much there and same time help with our skills...". Than the young people need support with insurances, legal problems etc, but only as a support, not as a control function.