It’s been almost 2years living in Helsinki and never travel over 250km using a train, so you can imagine how many times my eyes were moving around not to miss count of every single town or beautiful woodland we pass along the train track. Finding my way to the campsite was not too difficult as I got picked from the train station and we drove some 30 minutes to Koivuniemi Campsite to join other participants and camp staff.

Attending the Rescue Service Youth Camp-BigPepa XVI and spending a week in an Island was a whole new experience in my life. It was the first time I tried almost everything. It started with building our sleeping tent and sleeping under a sleeping bag. I had no clue how a sleeping bag look like or how to use it, usually in The Gambia we have camps in established structures like schools or using smaller tents for individuals. With lovely camp mates I was shown how it works. The first two nights felt bit cold because I thought I needed to wear many cloths to keep warm under the sleeping bag which was the opposite.

Basket Climbing (Climbing using empty milk crates) in Finnish “Korikiipeily” is an interesting game and looking at someone climbing you might think it’s easy but do give try. My first ever attempt I climbed up to 9 crates and fell. The Gambian in me want to try for the second time so I took the gears again and head to the crates. While climbing the 10th crate you can see me trembling “oh no I can’t go further” I said to myself but the cheering coming from people around kept me going. Climbing the 11th and 12th you can hear me convincing myself “yes you can do this” but I was still trembling so decided to sit on the 13th crate for a while to rest and proceeded to climb on the final crate. It was one of the best feeling standing on top of the last crate and everyone cheering. (Insert pic)

The fun continuous to the sauna, interesting it was at a Red Cross training I had my first sauna experience and again at the camp I had the chance to go to sauna and swim as well. Whenever someone pours water on the stones “LÖYLY” I feel like jumping through the little window but the good company and after sauna feeling would not let me.

Unlike Finland, we have no swimming lessons during school therefore you learn through friends or family member, unfortunately I had no swimming lessons but during the Bigpepa had the opportunity to learn how to swim (Insert pic)

The camp has been a life changing experience, getting to know people, learning about urban survival (cooking on our own using basic kitchen equipment), fire extinguishing, swimming, team work, face painting, camp fire, first aid and also search and rescue training were we learned the theory and also got to practice. If you survived the Bigpepa, you can survive anywhere in Finland :D