Regional Restoration Camps

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The CHwB Regional Restoration Camps represent a simple, successful, scalable training model, which grew, from 2007 to 2017, from a few students in Albania to multiple sessions in four countries, with a diverse array of participants. The Camps form part of a Balkans-wide push to encourage people to value and care for their local heritage. The main objectives are to use cultural heritage to build relations among young professionals, creating conditions for reconciliation as a prerequisite for peace and democracy, and to preserve traditional crafts and techniques.

Over the course of two weeks, participants follow a rigorous but fulfilling schedule, combining theory – through engaging lectures and presentations – with hands-on restoration work on historic monuments in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo or Serbia. Each intervention directly helps local residents – using traditional materials and techniques to repair their valuable buildings and providing a new means of understanding, interpreting and revitalizing them.

During the Camps, participants stay in accommodation on site, attending lectures in the morning and working to complete a hands-on restoration project on a historic building in the afternoon. Lectures are conducted by professional conservators and professors who come from prominent local and international institutions. Works on site are guided by a master craftsperson, who teaches the correct techniques and ensures that the restoration work is of the highest quality. At the end of the Camp, participants are evaluated on their knowledge of the lectures and their work on site, and they fill out an evaluation about the Camp experience, as well.

In recognition of their excellence and dedication, the CHwB Regional Restoration Camps won a prestigious 2014 EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award in the category of “Education, Training and Awareness-Raising.”

Camps by the Numbers
(as of April 2017)

32 Camps held in 10 historic locations across the Western Balkans

26 Countries represented by participants

25+ Professions represented

103+ Restoration interventions

828 Participants

49,100 Estimated total hours of hands-on work

In addition, the Camps have now been integrated as practical training into the curriculum of three regional universities (University of Tirana, Polis University-Tirana and University of Sarajevo), with two more to follow shortly (the University of Prishtina and the University of Belgrade). The Camps have been developing slowly since 2007, expanding more quickly in the past 2 years. Many of the individuals trained have gone on to work in the restoration field, with the government, universities or private practice; others come back as Camp Volunteers; and the cross-border networks that they have developed during their time at the Camp remain strong afterward. In Gjirokastra, which has hosted the majority of the Camps, they have become a staple of the local cultural scene and have encouraged dozens of historic property owners to reconsider how they care for their monument.

The motto of Cultural Heritage without Borders is “We restore and build relations.” The Regional Restoration Camps hold up both ends of this phrase, by both conducting restoration projects on historic buildings in need and building relations amongst people with a variety of ethnic and professional backgrounds. In order to fulfill this goal, the aims of the Camps are fourfold:

  1. Educating the next generation of restoration professionals – by incorporating hands-on training into university curricula and ensuring high quality standards
  2. Peace-building through building relations amongst participants from countries around the Balkans
  3. Valuing and preserving our common heritage – by promoting a ‘right to culture’
  4. Raising community awareness – by illustrating the value of cultural heritage to quality of life and economic development

You can find out more about the 2017 Regional Restoration Camps and download the application form here:
Announcing the 2017 Regional Restoration Camps on their 10th anniversary

For much more information, download the latest version of the Camps Guide.