Tent city offers children and young families holidays by far

Elsewhere e. V. wants to alleviate wounds of the Corona-Lockdown with play and social work

A young man called "Hat" rests from the Night's Watch on Friday afternoon with his arms outstretched. In the sun, it lies on one of the increasingly weathered sewer tube segments arranged around the campfire site. Summer holidays in the district town of the Rhein-Erft-Kreis: the tent city in Bergheim an der Erft near Paffendorf is open despite the pandemic.

Participants sit in the pub tent, get something to drink – the Bionade sends greetings. In the kitchen tent you can hear something rumbling behind the tarpaulin, until dinner it is still a long way. Actually, a workshop this afternoon was supposed to be about the production of smoke bombs, instead they give themselves to the holiday mood in the sunshine.

Colored ribbons mark reference groups.

Some with black ribbons on the wrist, the others with the colours pink, green or purple. Wherever people of different colors sit closer together on their wrists, participants draw a face mask. Everyone has one. Reference groups of ten people may have close contact without a mask. Otherwise it means keeping distance, putting on mask. Outside the reference group, cuddling is tolerated at most briefly, with mask and stopped breath.

"Anyone who rubs the tents inside with disinfectant kills not only the virus, but also the impregnation."

Birgit Hefner, Team Leader

In the tent city, born as a child of the emancipatory youth work of the 1990s, this summer it looks almost as usual around the fire place: stage, pub, tent for chilling out, kitchen, open-air showers, toilet sands. But in the area beyond the booking tent it is quite empty, the group tents are missing, in which otherwise the "Kidz" from seven to twelve years stay together with caregivers. Especially for the youngest visitors to the tent city, the so attractive overnight stay on the square is cancelled, after every day on the square it goes home again.

Group tents are missing, private tents provide festival flair.

The reason lies in the prescribed, daily and difficult disinfection of the tents, "whoever rubs the tents inside with disinfectant kills not only the virus, but also the impregnation," explains Birgit Hefner from the team leadership. Otherwise you can turn the tents on the left every day and put them in the sun! Who is to do this? What to do if it's raining?

"Of course we have shot.", Birgit Hefner, Maike Zöllner and Marco Murawski.

"Of course we have a shot," admits Birgit Hefner bluntly. If participants of the tent city were to become infected with Corona, this would be a disaster for the tent city and the sponsoring association Woanders e. V., she agrees with Maike Zöllner, also team leader and student of special education. At the age of 19, her partner Marco Murawski is the youngest ever chairman of The Elsewhere. Cedric Schumann is considered an "unofficial team leader chief".

The entire tent city team had already been on the verge of cancelling the tent camp, which lasted almost five weeks, because of the Corona pandemic, the two women from the Zeltstadt team management described. The responsibility that had to be shouldered for the volunteers was too heavy for many.

Then the team received messages from friendly psychologists, social workers and medical services. They told of the overburdening of families during the lock down, working in the home office and caring for the children. Told about violence, about alcoholism of increasing mental illnesses. At the latest, the team accepted the challenge and focused on the social work skills of the team members.

Forty-eight people are allowed to be on the pitch at the same time, calculated according to the formula "covered space in rain sometimes distance rule", explain the team members. And they reinforced the families' desire for holidays, only with the "teens" of 12 to 15 years there are still places available, otherwise they are fully booked week after week until the end of July with "Kidz" and "Generationz", i.e. whole families.