Ballooning adventures at the Czech International Youth Camp 2023
This year’s International Youth Camp was the 20th edition of this ballooning camp for young people. IYC originated in Germany, where the camp has been held most years. This was the third time IYC was held in the Czech Republic with the previous two times being held in the Kubicek family castle in Radešín, however, this year we had the opportunity to organise the camp at a new location in Velká Jesenice.
During this year’s IYC we happily welcomed 19 participants between ages 16 and 27 from nine different countries. As well as participants from the Czech Republic, we had visitors from Germany, Belgium, Russia, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Lithuania and the USA.
Eight participants had never been to IYC before so this was their first experience. This year we also had six pilots who all came with their own balloons and one pilot also brought an extra hopper so we had seven balloons in total. Aside from the six pilots we also had three Pilots Under Training.
This year we also had two participants who had never flown in a balloon prior to camp. We are pleased to report that both of them fell in love with this unique sport. Two participants even volunteered themselves to help with the organisation of next year’s IYC, which is great.
On the first day of camp, after everyone had arrived, we started the camp off by playing introduction games that gave everyone a chance to get to know each other. After that we explained the camp rules and proceeded to inflate one balloon and have a safety briefing regarding flying led by our Chief Pilot.
The weather was working in our favour this year and we managed to have seven beautiful flights in the camp’s surrounding area. We had to, however, cancel some flights due to showers, small storms and also exhaustion of the participants!
During two flights we were also accompanied in the air by local pilots, making the scenery even more beautiful with more balloons.
During the second evening of camp we held the traditional International Dinner where each participant prepared a meal from their country of origin and everyone had the chance to taste all the different kinds of meals that people prepared.
One of the highlights of the week apart from flying was a hiking trip to Adršpach-Teplice Rocks which are a set of beautiful sandstone formations in the camp’s area. We also went on a trip to Fortress Dobrošov, which is a huge underground military base used during the Second World War. On two other days we went to a valley called Ratibořice and explored the small castle that can be found there, walked in the surrounding nature and took a swim in a river that goes through the valley. On the hottest days of the week we also went to a local lake where we swam in the water and played games.
Czech Republic is the founding country of Pilsner style beer and Czechs take great pride in their beer making history and culture. One of the local pilots was kind enough to invite us for an excursion to his small beer brewery and showed us the process of beer making.
Every night we prepared a campfire and played various games such as hide-and-seek, table tennis, table football, karaoke night and so on. We also organised a night glow with the hopper one night. We had many talented people participating and they shared their talents with the rest of us such as guitar and accordion playing, acrobatics, baking or photography. We were also lucky enough to be able to watch the meteor shower that was happening during the week.
About the Organisers
Age: 27 Nationality: German.
Organiser Julia is a German balloon enthusiast who got into the ballooning community through the balloon club in Stuttgart. This was her second time organising IYC as she had already organised IYC in 2019 in Radešín, Czech Republic. Before organising IYC herself for the first time she had already participated 3 times.
Age: 23 Nationality: Czech
Organiser Nikola is a balloon pilot from the Czech Republic and this year was her first time organising IYC, however, she had been to IYC 3 times before. She is a talented young competition pilot, having competed in the 4th, 5th and 6th Junior World Hot Air Balloon championships throughout her competitive career. Having grown up with ballooning, she is passionate about popularising the sport of ballooning to wider audiences. Being local to the area, she dealt with a large portion of the logistics of the IYC thanks to her local knowledge.
Age: 21 Nationality: Czech Role
Chief Pilot & Organiser Jan is a commercial and competition pilot from the Czech city of Brno. This year was Jan’s third time participating in IYC but his first time being one of the organisers. Though young, Jan is an experienced pilot who grew up in a ballooning family and has spent many many hours in the basket, making him an ideal choice for this year’s Chief Pilot. He has spent most hours in the air as a commercial pilot, however, he also participates in competitions. He has participated in two Junior World Hot Air Balloon Championships and this year he ended in an honourable 8th place. His main role during the camp was to plan flights, ensure safety, hold forecast briefings and present a safety briefing before the first flight.
Age: 20 Nationality: Czech
Kitchen Chef & Organiser Adam is a young balloon pilot from the Czech Republic. He has participated in IYC three times and this year he took on the role of the chef of the kitchen. He was excited to take on that responsibility this year as he is a passionate amateur cook who loves to cook in his free time and experiment in the kitchen. Apart from that he is also a great pilot who has participated in the Junior World Hot Air Balloon Championship two times.
FAI congratulates the organiser team for their hard work in making this a successful event.