Arrival at YES Summer Camp 2016 – Day 1 officially!

Let me begin where I left off Copenhagen Airport Midnight UTC time. My flight to Palermo is at 7.20am so if I go to the gate around 6.30am I will get almost 6 and a half hours sleep…

1am I am still awake so perhaps watching a show on Netflix will make me sleepy, it always works at home.

3am having watched some old Gilmore Girls episodes I have decided that really what I need is a walk so I put on Pokémon Go and went hunting.

5am several laps of the airport terminal and several Pokémon later and I still cannot sleep I have come to terms with this and decided to watch the sun come up on Copenhagen Airport.

7am Declan and I decided to head to our gate around 6 which was a great idea as I got some entertainment from watching people board a flight to Alicante, Spain. Our gate was to open at now yet here we are no open gate. Wait people around me are moving, has our gate finally opened?

7.20am our flight was supposed to leave now but the gate is still closed I am desperate to get on this plane!

8am WE ARE IN THE AIR! We departed at 7.45 there was a mechanical issue with the other plane so rather than see if they could fix it they just got a new plane. I hope our luggage will be in Palermo when we get there.

So we are at camp Citta Del Mare Hotel Village, in Sicily!!!! After what has felt like days of travelling I have made it, seeing old friends and meeting new ones! We got our room keys around 2 and once in I finally collapsed onto my bed and slept. However, once I woke I discovered and small issue with my room there was no glass in the window! It was reported to the reception and they were more than helpful getting us rehoused to another room. I even got to ride in a golf cart to the new room!

It is almost 9.30pm which means the opening ceremony is about to begin. If I could bottle the atmosphere here I would I am surrounded by hundreds of Young European Socialist in a sea of red waving their Organizational flags and singing a rousing rendition of “The Internationale”. We are in an amphitheatre here at camp and across the bay I can just see the outline of another part of the island. It creates a magical feeling, like the beginning of something great.
The music is playing and hundreds of people are clapping with the beat and it makes me remember what I loved about Summer Camp last year. Never mind language barriers or cultural differences because we are united as one in YES.
When the lights up on I got goosebumps IT HAS BEGUN!

The host did not let the technical issues with the microphone stop him from explaining why Sicily?

After a quick introduction of the Trust Team to thunderous applause we have Dario Costantino from FGS the host organisation. He delivered a passionate speech about how a new story needs to be created that we can believe in and therefore replacing the sadness we have witnessed over the past several years that has been created by ISIS and other organisations who what to destroy democracy.

Next up the President of FEPS Massimo D’Alema. He spoke about the stupidity of racism and how today we see different countries working together proving the melting pot of Europe. He spoke of the limbo we find ourselves in as we live in uncertainty about the way politics are being discussed and policies are being implemented. He said there has not been a sound response to Europe’s problems. He wished us well before a deafening round of applause saw him off the stage.

Javier Moreno Sanchez, Secretary General of S&D Group began by thanking the organisers of Summer Camp and said he feels younger being around all the Young European Socialists. He said we are surrounded by crisis all the time, first economic, then social then political. But worse than all we are in a psychological crisis and the youth are needed to make the changes and end these crises. He reiterated the importance of not just saying what we want but to fight for it, democracy, equality, healthcare, to live in a world that is not destroyed and fight for jobs for young people and equal pay for men and women! He ended by saying we have to work more than ever and to remember we are not the future we are the present!

The Vice President of IUSY Alessandro Pirisi began by apologising to be another man replacing a woman speaker. His passion is contagious as he speaks about the tragedies across Europe from Uyota to Nice and Turkey and Germany. He spoke about how we need to ensure equality for all which will lead to progressive democracies.

Our first woman of the evening is Marije Laffeber, Deputy Secretary General of the PES. She thanked all who made us feel at home and to the YES organisers who invited her here tonight. Marije reinstated the crisis we are facing across Europe and we need action for peace, democracy and integration. She told us the most important is that we the members of YES need to find solutions and be involved in policy making. Marije also spoke about the PES “Act for Jobs, Act for Youth” Campaign, speaking about how we need to protect EU youth from becoming a lost generation. And Europe must need to prove it is not just for men, older people or young people but for ALL people. We also need to start getting Socialists elected. We need single parties, we cannot win an election without women or young people and we should not be used for photo ops or to be brought out on leaflet drops.

Mattia Zunino, Secretary GD welcomed us to his first Summer Camp, perhaps he will come back next year and do a blog… ok back to his speech. Mattia spoke about what we have done to try and end the refugee crisis. He spoke about his and his comrades anger at the closed boarder suggestions, and I am sure we all felt the same. To create a truly united Europe we need to rethink how we approach the way Europe is being run. He also told us to make new friends and to make memories.

Right away Carlo Vizzini, President of PSI apologises for what he about to say as it may not be English. Can he come to Ireland he seems like he is great fun? He welcomed us to Sicily the island infamous for the mafia and asked for a moment of silence to remember those who lost their lives fighting this terrorism. He spoke about remembering a positive future while fighting the crisis we face. He said we will look back on this time as the time when people we looking for better lives and as we look out on the sea we are to remember those who don’t make it. Oh Jusos in der SPD getting a pop there as he speaks about Willie Brandt as one of the first socialists to work for unity in Europe. Finishing up Carlo drew the parallel between the 1000 people in Sicily 159 years ago who fought for unity in Italy and the 1000 young people to descended on Sicily this week to do the same for Europe. Also I love those FGS flags, where can I get one? I don’t have a Labour Youth Ireland one but I could always use an Italian one right?

And finally our own President of YES Laura Slimani. Laura started by speaking about the doubt she is sure we all felt in recent weeks about democracy in Europe and how today she does not feel it seeing over 1000 young people come to YES Summer Camp our biggest in over 5 years! Next Laura thanked everyone who worked to make this week happen, I won’t list them out as I will forget those she did not! As we say in Ireland… She is some woman for one woman! Laura took a moment to remember the hard times that our French comrades faced on July 14th the tragedy in Nice. She also took a moment to extend out solidarity with our Turkish comrades and not to stop the fight against the right. Her final wishes were sent to my neighbours our British comrades following the Brexit campaign. Laura said everyday she is amazed at the work of Young European Socialists across Europe. Special mention, as National Campaigns Officer of Labour Youth Ireland I launched our End Pay Discrimination campaign which was briefly mentioned!

Laura said this is a week where we will discuss how to bring social democracy to Europe. However, she believes it isn’t enough as we are facing the biggest challenge Europe has ever faced with the refugee crisis, mass homelessness and unemployment while the commissions in EU are worried about the deficits of Portugal and Spain. And with that Laura reads out all 41 participating organizations and invited the speakers from tonight and the YES Presidium to join her on stage to declare YES Summer Camp 2016 open!

And as is sit here at the back of the amphitheatre enjoying YES members singing as one “The Internationale” followed as always by “Bella Chao” I sign off to go party.

See you all tomorrow

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