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Education for all

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Clubs in Germany – an important supplement to classrooms

Scouts around the campfire (photo: Kathrin Biegert).

Around the campfire...

When I think back, I’ve learned a lot outside of schools or universities: swimming, gymnastics, playing, dancing. They’re all activities I learned together with other children in clubs in Germany during my free time. Since classes ended in the early afternoon when I went to school, we had the afternoons off. When we were kids, we could meet just to play, or we could go to those club activities in our town. My friends and I had a great time going to our local sports club – whether by playing a sport together or doing things like camping trips.I met a lot of great people in the clubs, so I always felt very much rooted in my hometown’s community. I feel like you often read that children of socially disadvantaged families don’t participate in sports or music clubs as often as those from better situated families. But you can learn so much in clubs – not only about culture, sports, nature, or politics, but also about how to get along with others. There basically aren’t any entrance requirements for becoming a member in German clubs of this sort – unlike schools where you may need a certain grade point average. In clubs, you have the opportunity to create a community connecting different social classes and national origins. Often member fees are cheap or can be subsidized if families have financial problems.

The scouts take young people beyond the curricula in schools (photo: Kathrin Biegert).

The scouts take young people beyond the curricula in schools.

Today, many clubs criticize that fewer children are signing up to take part because the children have classes in the afternoon nowadays. Some clubs offer their soccer or music classes in schools now. Others try to find enough members with their traditional programs, like the scouts.

Some of my friends are scouts. Recently, their troop celebrated its 80th anniversary. In the morning, they took part in a church service. Afterwards, they had coffee and cake and watched a photo show with pictures of decades gone by. Again and again, you could hear someone asking with shining eyes: “Do you remember when…?!”.

Many memories were revived – memories that connect the group members. An upcoming night with a barbecue and camping will become part of their collective memory, too, and strengthen their team spirit. And some young scouts will keep it in especially vivid memory because it is the first anniversary camping they participate in.


May 21, 2012 | 9:33 am