Lõimeleer is a summer camp that connects young Estonians living abroad and their families as well as multicultural families living in Estonia with Estonian life and culture. In the camp you can socialise with your peers from Estonia, learn traditional songs, dances, games and instruments, go to the smoke sauna, ride a horsecart, explore waters on traditional Estonian dugout canoe, go on a ghost hunt at night and so much more.
What does Lõimeleer mean?
“Lõim” means the warp that runs lengthwise across the fabric and “leer” means a camp. In modern times, the word “lõim” has also gained the meaning of cohesion and melting together. To sum up, “lõimeleer” means a place where Estonian youth from all over the world meet and form friendships that are just as tight as well-woven fabric.
“Leer” is a word with several meanings in Estonian, but it sounds more fun, poetic and vintage than the modern word for camp, which is “laager”. Historically, both words are German loans (compare German “lernen”), they are just loaned from different dialects and both have initially denoted a stopping place where people gather and learn something.
Our camps help young people learn about Estonian culture and develop their Estonian skills through fun summer activities and socialisation. There will be no formal language learning in a classroom setting. Our camp’s working language is Estonian, but we are more than happy to provide explanations in English, to make sure everyone is included. Within the five years existence, we have had participants from the USA, Canada, Sweden, Kazakhstan, Finland, Ireland, Great Britain, New Zealand, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Norway and, of course, Estonia itself.
The recommended age for participants is 10–18. As an extension of the children camp, Family Lõimeleer offers an opportunity for children younger than 10 years and their parents to take part in the camp. The younger children can partake in the activities of the teenagers’ camp, practice their Estonian and, by support from their parents, gather experience and courage for attending the camp unaccompanied in the longer run.
The first Lõimeleer summer camps took place in 2016 under the auspices of the University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy, and our cooperation with the university continues to this day. The separate NGO HomeComing (MTÜ Lõimeleer) was established in January 2018. Camp teachers are youth work students and alumni from the Culture Academy and other Estonian universities. Through this, MTÜ Lõimeleer also contributes to raising a generation of youth workers with the international experience necessary in the 21st century.
Young people and their families from all over the world form new friendships, learn how to make Estonian handicrafts, study traditional songs, dances, games and instruments, visit the smoke sauna and go on horse cart and dugout canoe rides, have water fights and even go ghost hunting at night.