A Fantastic Week of Liberty and Entrepreneurship in Ponikiew, Poland

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This year’s Liberty English Camp in Poland was strategically held right after the biggest libertarian conference Poland has ever seen – the European Students for Liberty Regional Conference in Krakow. That successful event brought nearly 120 young, passionate freedom lovers to attend a great conference, enlarge their networks, and simply to have fun.

It is not a coincidence that I am mentioning the ESFL conference when talking about our Liberty English Camp, because as they were just one day apart we were able to share a few speakers and also a number of students. The conference built the perfect foundation for the Camp.

Ponikiew Camp 2013— Barbeque

On Sunday, September 8th, 20 students from 4 countries (Estonia, Germany, Nigeria, Poland) and 6 moderators from 6 countries (Belarus, Ethiopia, Italy, Nigeria, Poland, United States) gathered in the picturesque village of Ponikiew, 7km from Wadowice, Pope John Paul II’s hometown. Introductions were made around the fire and with a wonderful barbeque.

It was Monday when the official program began. Activities were divided into lectures on classical liberal fundamental principles, discussions in small groups, guest lectures, workshops, movie screenings, and student debates. The program was very packed, but we still found time for sport (tennis, volleyball, swimming pool) and late night discussions.

The camp’s program was very intense. Classes on classical liberal principles were conducted by Glenn Cripe, executive director of Language of Liberty Institute and Jaroslav Romanchuk, head of the Mises Scientific Center in Belarus. Students had a chance to explore philosophical background and learn about the proper role of government as envisioned by the most prominent liberal/libertarian thinkers.

Beyond ideology, an important stress was made on the importance of entrepreneurship as an independent way of living. This year’s camp was host to an amazing line up of speakers, all promoting that message:

  •  Michael Severance of the Acton Institute travelled to us all the way from Rome to discuss entrepreneurship as a vocation (plus we screened Acton’s movie “The Call of The Entrepreneur”),
  •  Jan Kuban (businessman, ISIL member) talked about “Physics of live”,
  • Maciej Gnyszka from the Business Society stressed importance of networking, and
  • Urmas Jarve, Estonian young entrepreneur, shared his breathtaking personal success story.

The Camp would not be as amazing as it was without our fantastic African speakers: Adedayo Thomas of AfricanLiberty.org and Kidus Mehalu, east African representative of Atlas Network and Students for Liberty. Adedayo not only gave a great speech on prospects for liberty in Africa but also led other activities with “After the Welfare State” workshops and a student debate. Kidus spoke about the growing (mainly thanks to him!) Ethiopian liberty movement: its opportunities and threats.

Matt Kwasiborski of The Fund for American Studies gave students a motivational lecture on leadership for liberty, and finally, I presented different strategies and opportunities within the global liberty movement. I put a special stress on ISIL – it’s mission, history, and what it offers to students (all the participants received one year membership, free of charge).

Overall the camp was not only about fascinating lectures on important topics. As with every year, students had many opportunities to present their opinions, actively discuss, and work on interesting projects. Discussion groups took place every day after lectures – it was impressive how eager the students were to discuss, leaving the moderators without much to do. Adedayo Thomas led two interesting student debates: the first was on the private usage of nuclear power and the second was on democracy.

Throughout camp, students worked in groups on a project based on Dr. Tom Palmer’s book “After the Welfare State”. Their propositions for reforms were presented on the last day, and were very mature and rooted in the libertarian tradition. All the organizers were positively surprised about the students and their passionate attitudes.

After five days (and nights!) of lectures, debates, and discussions we concluded the camp with graduation ceremony and talent show led by the best showman at the camp: Adedayo Thomas. It was fantastic five days with amazing people, wonderful ideas, and a warm atmosphere of friendship. It would not be possible without ISIL who sponsored a number of students and helped us to run everything smoothly. Thank you!

Organizers of educational youth camps with a focus on entrepreneurship, free market economics and classical liberal philosophy.

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