10 Jan 2020

South American Balloon Youth Camp 2019 in Brazil

By Markus Dikran Kalousdian

The three-day Balloon Camp was held in Araçoiaba da Serra, located 110 km from São Paulo. The name Araçoiaba (from the Tupi language) means "hider of the sun" and denotes a nearby mountain that the natives noted hid the sun as it set. Besides that, the whole landscape is made of small hills with valley rivers crossing the forest area leading, to beautiful hidden lakes.

The family-owned Hotel Vila da Serra was the perfect place to welcome our campers with a quick camp overview briefing, along with lots of pizza! The hotel provides a more intimate experience, since all the cozy rooms open to a lovely garden with local trees and flowers. Additionally, you can go for a swim in the pool located beside a gazebo where we had brazilian barbecue and activities briefing.

A total of 20 Youths participated in the Camp: 10 between 10 and 16 Years old and 10 between 20 and 30 Years old. Among the participants, we had five youths from the city who participated at no cost. It was simply amazing how thankful and proactive they became, coming to watch and learn more about it every weekend we have chance to fly there.

This year’s camp focused more on balloon-related activities and started the day with a morning hare and hounds flight to get them interested in competition.

This was followed by a refueling briefing. In the afternoon, instead of trekking up the mountain, we presented a model balloon, which allowed us to present concepts of ballooning more clearly on a small scale; it was lots of fun to see everyone trying to land smoothly. Also, we attempted some tethered flights so they could try their recent landing skills on a real balloon, but this was not possible due to strong winds.

Fortunately, the wind stopped right before the nightglow, which was promoted through a ride around the city centre with the burners on, allowing locals to see for themselves.

The next day started with a morning flight, but this time was followed by a balloon factory visit, where everyone learned more about the manufacturing process of balloons and equipment. Special attention was given to a 20-passenger basket that was being made, because everyone had had flights on an eight-  person basket.

After that, we all headed to a local restaurant to try a barbecue specialty known as costela. Finally, we arrived back at the hotel to celebrate the end of another successful Balloon Camp.

Looking forward to next year! So if you are planning to come to Brazil, let me know and participate with us!