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Birthday opens window of opportunity at Samliju Campsite, Estonia

Jul 03, 2020  |  Samliku, Estonia  | 

Birthday opens window of opportunity at Samliju Campsite, Estonia

A former Soviet era holiday home on the Pärnu River in central Estonia has become an active campsite for Pathfinders, youth, and even nearby churches. Purchased in 2016, the beautiful 2.5-hectare (6.2-acre) site is slowly being upgraded into a fully functioning church campground.

But how to make it better? In particular, the main building is in need of renovation and improvement. Although the Estonian Conference has developed a renovation plan and has the relevant permissions, the budget is tight.

Jaanus-Janari Kogerman, treasurer and Pathfinder director for the Estonian Conference, had an idea. 

“Some of the windows were in a very poor condition, so they couldn’t be opened, let alone keep the building warm,” he says. As a result, he decided to share a birthday appeal on his Facebook page, following the growing example of his friends from other countries who highlight charity fundraisers for their birthdays.

“While all kinds of great projects in distant lands sound very good,” Kogerman says, “I wanted to raise money for the Samliku campsite – and specifically for windows.”

This is where E-Monday came into play–a day of discount sales in e-shops. Based on the experience of his foreign friends, Kogerman aimed for around €300 (US $337). 

“I did not expect more,” he said. But that limit was exceeded in just one day. 

In total, 30 people donated €2,515 (US $2,830). As this was €1,000 (US $1,100) more than the cost of the windows, it means that every room in the building can now be adequately ventilated and there is still some money left to purchase doors or windows as needed.

“It’s not about my birthday, but something much more,” Kogerman exclaims, totally delighted with the result.

The result? Sunday, June 21, saw a workday as church members came together from at least six congregations, using their skills to change the windows, prune or remove old trees, chop firewood, and cut the grass. One supporter even arranged delivery of a truckload of wood chips to improve some of the tracks.

“One path to the river was covered on Sunday; now the riverside is beautiful,” Kogerman enthuses.

The site is now ready for the Estonian Conference Pathfinder camp starting on July 13.

There is still a lot of work needed to improve the site. The surrounding forest was partially used as a dumping ground before Adventists bought the land. Once cleared, there are plans to build an adventure trail.

The Conference has also approved funding for a biological sewage treatment system. This will replace the old-style cesspit in the near future, but there is still a need for more paint, improved sanitation, and eventually, additional sleeping areas. So loved in northern European countries, a few sponsors are working toward a plan to add a separate sauna facility.

Arina Karlova, the main volunteer from the Tallinn III Russian-speaking church, reflected that it was a long but pleasant working day. 

“It was good to go to Samliku together,” she says. “The people from our congregation learned that such a place existed, and the idea is now in their minds to camp there with the children of our congregation.” 

Karlova also really appreciated the way children came and enjoyed actively helping alongside their parents.

Estonia is a small Baltic nation with a population of just over 1.3 million, including 1,342 Adventist members. Despite its small size, the church is active with planned church plants. Pathfinders are one of their best outreach activities.

Find out more about the campsite by visiting the Samliku’s Facebook page.

The original version of this article was published on the Estonian Conference website.

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