More than 260 people will meet on the shores of Lake Macquarie on the central coast of the Australian state of New South Wales to mark the 60th anniversary of the Sõrve Estonian Children’s Summer Camp from 1 to 8 January 2023.
The Estonian ambassador to Australia, Kersti Eesmaa, will attend the diamond jubilee event on behalf of the Estonian foreign ministry.
The first family camp was held in 1953 to maintain the cultural ties of the then relatively small population of Estonians in Australia, following the displacement of the Second World War. In 1962, it moved to the Point Wolstoncroft Sport and Recreation facility, where it affectionally became known as Sõrve because of the geographic similarities to the peninsula on the island of Saaremaa in Estonia. It has been held annually at this location ever since.
The opportunity to enrich the children’s cultural knowledge
“The role Sõrve plays in bringing together succeeding generations of young people of Estonian heritage in Australia cannot be underestimated,” Sulev Kalamäe, the president of the Sydney Estonian Parents’ and Friends’ Association and the honorary consul of the Republic of Estonia in New South Wales, said in a statement.
“We now see four generations of Australian-born Estonians, as well as those who have come to Australia in more recent years, congregate for a week each Australian summer. While the two countries may be separated by great distance, there is a special bond between the two cultures. This year, more than ever, we reflect on the importance of preserving one’s culture at a time in history when the very existence of some nations is being threatened.”
Sõrve has a longstanding tradition of providing Australian children with Estonian heritage the opportunity to enrich their cultural knowledge and provide them as young adults with opportunities to develop youth leadership skills, which flow to the wider Australian/Estonian community.
Sõrve is run as a registered not-for-profit association. Each year, a committee it elected by its members to administer the organisation of the camp and ensue the tradition is upheld. Major supporters are the Council of Estonian Societies in Australia, the Estonian Cultural Fund in Australia, the Estonian embassy in Canberra and the Integration Foundation in Estonia.
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