2023 French-German Balloon Youth Camp
by Max Brandenburg and Marvin Wittschen, Camp Organisers
Against the backdrop of the picturesque Swabian Alb, Germany, the 20th French-German Balloon Youth Camp unfolded from July 29 to August 5, marking a milestone in bringing together young adventurers aged 13 to 18 from Germany and France. This unique camp offers not only a thrilling introduction to the world of ballooning but also a platform to cultivate lasting cross-border friendships.
Challenges posed by the weather failed to dampen the camp's spirit as it successfully executed three sets of captivating balloon flights, each involving four hot air balloons, against the panorama of the Swabian Alb. Each flight, more than just a journey through the skies, encapsulated the heart of ballooning — an escape from the ordinary into the realm of the extraordinary.
Yet, the camp's essence extends beyond ballooning. The camp was a week filled with exploration and enjoyment. The participants tested their precision in mini golf, enjoyed the indoor swimming pool and expanded their horizons through a visit to Stuttgart. Spirited table tennis tournaments ignited friendly competition and lasting connections. Amidst the laughter and shared stories, the language animation sessions bridged linguistic and cultural barriers, fostering a sense of unity among the diverse groups.
Amidst the magnificence of the skies, the camp's schedule grounded participants in a world of knowledge. Volker Löschhorn, an experienced competitor, shared his insights from overwater flights with Tomas Hora at the Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett Races in 2000 and 2006. Löschhorn's extensive experience includes not only long-distance flights but also multiple German gas ballooning championships. He has also excelled in hot air balloon competitions, earning titles such as Baden-Württemberg champion. Additionally, he has played a significant role in organising competitions across several countries, including Germany, France, and Russia. Camp counselor Anke da Silva, a former observer, shared her valuable experiences, igniting the dreams of aspiring ballooning enthusiasts.
As the sun set on the 20th French-German Balloon Youth Camp, the skies bid farewell to the vibrant balloons that had graced the Swabian Alb's canvas for a week of exhilarating fun and discovery. However, the memories created, the bonds formed, and the lessons learned will continue to ascend, resonating with the ever-inspiring essence of ballooning — connecting hearts, cultures, and dreams.
The success of the camp was made possible by the generous financial support of the German-French Youth Office (FGYO) as well as the FAI Ballooning Commission (CIA). Their contributions reflect their commitment to fostering the growth and development of the next generation of aviators.