First Baltic Guards camp for the Baltic youth guard movements took place in 2012 in Cēsis, Latvia. The initiative came from the Latvian civic sector to organize an annual summer camp for the Baltic youth guard movements («Jaunsardze» (Latvia), «Kodututred» and «Noored Kotkad» (Estonia), and «Šaulių sąjunga» (Lithuania)). First Baltic Guards camp was a commencement of 100 youth guards from all three Baltic States and approximately 30 instructors. Financial resources were ensured by the Latvian Transatlantic Organization (LATO) as donations from a private sector with co-sponsorship from NATO and Cēsis municipality. First Baltic Guards camp put emphasis on awareness about NATO and regional security challenges, team building during outdoor activities, and learning about NATO through intellectual tests during the Baltic Guards camp.
Awareness raising activities during the camp were ensured through discussions with decision makers and experts from Latvian security policy expert community, German expert community, and the US military sector. Dr. Artis Pabriks, fmr. Defense Minister of Latvia, Andreas Klein, fmr. Head of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung to the Baltic States, and Judith G. Garber, fmr. Ambassador of the United States to Latvia were discussing security aspects in 2012. In addition to officials and experts, the US Marines spent a day with Baltic youth guards sharing their professional experiences from the United States military as part of NATO’s collective security. Activities with the Marines included team building outdoor activities as well as sharing their practical experience about the US and NATO military experience. Before the camp, there were questionnaires on security sent to the participants of the Baltic Guards in 2012 to prepare for knowledge testing. Best youngsters were awarded with iPads (from the US embassy) and outdoor equipment from the camp sponsors for the best knowledge test results.
During the camp there was a media team composed of LATO, Recruitment and Youth Guard Center (RJC), and youth guards. From the each camp day, there were media reports presented by youth guards to the regional and national media. Separate media coordination team was established to improve knowledge about media coordination activities among Latvia youth guard movement participants.
Photos of the camp are available here:
Second Baltic Guards camp was organized by the Lithuanian Atlantic Treaty Association (LATA) with the support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania from 3rd to 5th of June, 2013, in Lithuania.
The camp was a composition of learning about the security issues of national, regional and international scope through debates with experts. The camp also included interaction with Lithuanian military structures to learn more about the NATO collective security challenges, practical compatibility of collective military assets, and daily work of national military structures.
More information about the camp in Lithuanian and English is available here: http://www.lata.lt/ivyko-tarptautine-stovykla-baltic-guards-2013/.
Third Baltic Guards camp was organized by the Estonian Atlantic Treaty Association (EATA) and Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Estonia from 14th to 17th of June, 2014, in Estonia.
The camp, according to its traditions, was a composition of awareness raising activities and also outdoor activities for the Baltic youth guard movements. It is possible to conclude that the interaction between the youngsters of the movements and experts has been recognized by all three Baltic States.
More information about the camp in Estonian is available here:
Photos from the camp are available here:
Fourth Baltic Guards camp will be held in Latvia from 10th to 14th of August, 2015. More information about the camp is available and will be regularly updated in the RJC web site that is specificly devoted to the project: http://www.rjc.gov.lv/Aktualitates/guards_2015.aspx.
From the civic initiative for the three Baltic states, the camp is growing in terms of state representation, resources devoted to the project, and visibility of the camp. In 2015, the organizers (LATO and the RJC) are planning to expand participation by involving the UK and Norwegian relevant movements. The objective of the camp is also to develop audio-visual materials about the camp proceedings for national and international audience.
Media training, to improve youth guards’ skills, will become a tradition for the camp in Latvia in 2015. Camp evaluation questionnaires have shown that the camp is the only opportunity for the Baltic youth guard movements to operate in international environment, learn about regional security issues, and interact with the Baltic youngsters in international environment. The project has also become an essential knowledge transfer opportunity for states that are represented during the project.