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Problems convincing youth to go on a Camino...any experience?

JCarpenter

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
I had a meeting with our pastor and youth pastor this morning that was quite discouraging. I wish I had the collective of pilgrims past in the room. They both described the post COVID experience of getting youth out of the house. Parents, but especially teens are reluctant to go out and meet with friends because they can do all the "socializing" from their homes through their phones. Even if we offered a scholarship to Spain, their assessment was that we would have a difficult time getting youth to go. Have any of you have a similar experiences with family, or other teens you know? Any luck understanding its true origins, or what will entice youth to go? We live in the Pacific Northwest where outdoor activity is normally within the culture.
 
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trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
I had a meeting with our pastor and youth pastor this morning that was quite discouraging. I wish I had the collective of pilgrims past in the room. They both described the post COVID experience of getting youth out of the house. Parents, but especially teens are reluctant to go out and meet with friends because they can do all the "socializing" from their homes through their phones. Even if we offered a scholarship to Spain, their assessment was that we would have a difficult time getting youth to go. Have any of you have a similar experiences with family, or other teens you know? Any luck understanding its true origins, or what will entice youth to go? We live in the Pacific Northwest where outdoor activity is normally within the culture.
Who exactly are you trying to encourage? Is it someone in your family, or youth in general.

My friend @Oregon's Mark has had a couple of different experiences with grandchildren on the Camino, maybe he'll see this and share what he did to convince his grandchildren.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
You could seek out potential candidates. Fish for them with a hook and line instead of a net. In high schools have Spanish teachers and Jr. ROTC instructors talk to enthusiastic students. Scout leaders and hiking club members should be able to suggest some kids that may be interested too.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2012
As an ex-Scout Master and Outward Bound instructor I remain puzzled by your post.
Are you asking how to motivate “youth” in general to undertake Camino or do you have a particular group of youth in mind? Do you have funding, you mention scholarships, that you are struggling to spend?
My experience suggests that the only things that will motivate teenagers are personal desire and/or peer group engagement. So, you have a sales job to do. And you have to find ways that present Camino as something they and their peers want to do. Not as something that you want them to do because you think they should / they’ll enjoy, or, worst of all benefit from. Best of luck
 
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Dave

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 2002; most recent: Norte/Primitivo 2019
I take high schoolers on pilgrimage every summer. Just got back from France with another group about a month ago. My experience is just the opposite--after COVID, they're hungrier than ever for adventures in the real world.

Dave
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I had a meeting with our pastor and youth pastor this morning that was quite discouraging. I wish I had the collective of pilgrims past in the room. They both described the post COVID experience of getting youth out of the house. Parents, but especially teens are reluctant to go out and meet with friends because they can do all the "socializing" from their homes through their phones. Even if we offered a scholarship to Spain, their assessment was that we would have a difficult time getting youth to go. Have any of you have a similar experiences with family, or other teens you know? Any luck understanding its true origins, or what will entice youth to go? We live in the Pacific Northwest where outdoor activity is normally within the culture.
We took our grandson (13) who absolutely jumped at the opportunity, and loved every minute. The granddaughter (14) who we also asked, said no when she found she would have to walk.
Kids are not all the same.
 

lalaone

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2007
I had a meeting with our pastor and youth pastor this morning that was quite discouraging.
Maybe you could get traction through reaching out to the middle school or high school Foreign Language Club? You’d be starting with kids interested in learning and sharing other languages / cultures with their peers, so that’s an auspicious start.

It would be really fun to be a club sponsor approached with this question and helping get the kids into it. A sponsor could start with helping them come up with all the foreign names for “Camino de Santiago” - Spanish, French, German, Polish, Dutch, etc, etc - along with maps, flags, and maybe even special food or pilgrim stories/multimedia from each country.

I know one Japanese-American young teen who would LOVE to walk the Camino, because she knows her grandparents always dreamed of making the Shikoku pilgrimage in Japan. She'd absolutely jump on the opportunity, if the opportunity was shared by peers. I also think of the popularity of the Camino among Koreans and Korean-Americans. The enthusiasm could really grow among all the kids if they and their peers were making diverse and unexpected personal connections through language or cultural curiosity. I wouldn't know...just a thought. It's gotta be hard working with that age group, so best of luck. :)
 
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K_Lynn

Buen Camino!
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2021
Who are you trying to convince to walk Camino? Members of your congregation and their children?

I would arrange an afternoon/evening to discuss Camino, maybe show a film about it or a slide show of pictures to provide a visual context and discuss the history of pilgrimage and the history of the Camino in particular. Having someone who has walked Camino talk about their experience and answer questions could help drive some interest. From there I would arrange a weekly local hike with the first few people interested to get them used to the idea of walking and hopefully from there more people will show interest.
There's a gentleman on YouTube that takes a group of students every summer, perhaps reach out to him for a conversation about how to get more youth interested. https://www.youtube.com/c/CaminoGuide Or reach out to your broader church network on how to do so.
 

JCarpenter

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
Thank you all. The hook and line instead of the net is a good analogy to what I am finding. Thank you Rick of Rick and Peg for that one. I have learned a bit from all suggestions and thank you for the links!
 

SantiagoCruzB

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2023
Who are you trying to convince to walk Camino? Members of your congregation and their children?

I would arrange an afternoon/evening to discuss Camino, maybe show a film about it or a slide show of pictures to provide a visual context and discuss the history of pilgrimage and the history of the Camino in particular. Having someone who has walked Camino talk about their experience and answer questions could help drive some interest. From there I would arrange a weekly local hike with the first few people interested to get them used to the idea of walking and hopefully from there more people will show interest.
There's a gentleman on YouTube that takes a group of students every summer, perhaps reach out to him for a conversation about how to get more youth interested. https://www.youtube.com/c/CaminoGuide Or reach out to your broader church network on how to do so.
I would just add, you invite someone their age (or closer to their age) who has done the Camino and enjoyed it to talk about it and answer questions. Their perspective would be different from the older hikers.
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
I am wondering.......your pastor and youth pastor are unenthusiastic.....BUT have you spoken to the young people themselves? What do they say? Maybe you will be a catalyst to rekindle the outdoor connection....
 
Time of past OR future Camino
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
I am invited every year to speak to the Yr 12 class at my local Catholic school about pilgrimage; they have an RE unit about it. Despite my efforts to describe the experience, I get the impression that they’re interested to hear my story, but that it’s an old person thing.
 
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Robo

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015,
2016, 2018
VdlP 2023
A bit left field, but I think it's about context. And not 'pushing' things.

For example. Our niece is staying with us from Thailand whilst she studies at Uni.
First she has to improve her English doing a 4 month language course here.

I was trying to think of ways of getting her to practice English with me.
So I hatched a plan.

Every day I send her the link to a shot video.
I have a few YouTube channels on different topics relevant to her Uni course, so that helps.
We chat in the evening about the video, what she learned from it, what she thought of it, how the topic relates to our lives etc etc. So we go off on lots of tangents.

That way she get to practice English conversation.

But I throw in a few left field ones as well.
Some Camino videos for example.

These really interested her and she wanted to know all about different aspects of it.
I think it's a question of throwing out the right 'bait'.

Though it's an uphill struggle.

She's a city girl. Shopping malls, cafes, parties........

And here on our doorstep we have bush walking, sailing, drives in the country.
None of that really interests her.........

You can take a horse to water.......... :rolleyes:

Could you expose these kids, to other kids (not adults), talking about the Camino?
Either live, or on video?
 
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FreshAir

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Primitivo Sept 2022
I don't know if this is going to be of any help as different cultures and so on, but...
I'm taking my 12-year-old daughter with me on the Primitivo. I'm very active and definitely an outdoorsy person, so she is familiar with that, but I had to plant the seed early on and it has been quite a "challenge".
We regularly go on day hikes and she enjoys it but I think she would just rather stay home, glued to her phone, being a couch potato...
I involved her in the planning, choosing the stages and the gear; we watched a bunch of videos from the Camino and she is really excited about the credential, having to stamp it throughout the day...
Bottom line, I had to find ways of showing her why she would like to do it because the only thing she was thinking was "I have to walk all day".... :rolleyes:
 

Dennis Pack

Member since 2017
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino de Santiago Norte 2018
I saw quite a few young walkers on the Norte pre Covid, mostly German girls on their gap year walking alone. One was in Spain to improve her Spanish before she headed off to hike the length of South America. If you are taught from an early age that the world is an interesting place that you don't have to fear ....
"Context" is the key. If doing it has no meaning in their lives ... sadly all too common in amerikans. If you can find peers who have walked, and have them talk about "why" they went, you might "hook" a few.
Another consideration is fellow pilgrims, especially in the albergues, if your group is full of people who aren't engaged.
 

jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2021, 2022
Peers! peers, peers! Adolescents need to sell it to their friends.
THIS is exactly what I was going to say. Teens are not going to listen to adults saying this is a good thing for them. They WILL listen to the experiences of other teens.

My daughter and her friends are a prefect example. She didn't want to go on a Camino. She DID want to travel. I had taken her on a "backpacking Europe" trip when she was 15 - you know - the kind where you have a Eurail pass and you hop on trains city to city and explore as you go. She LOVED it. This past year she was preparing to graduate high school and she KNEW she wanted to travel. She wanted her friends to come. She couldn't get them to seriously plan. And those who seriously wanted to plan had parents who said "NO WAY". She was preparing to travel alone - but kind of scared and definitely picking places that I felt were unsafe for a young (and white/American) girl (yes- at 18 she is a woman) to travel alone. She was also planning all sorts of places that were well beyond her budget.

So - I convinced her to do the Camino. She was very reluctant and didn't think she would have fun "walking across Spain". But - she wanted to travel enough that she agreed to do it. Her friends thought she was crazy. Her co-workers thought she was crazy. And her grandma (my mom) and her customers (retired age people living in a retirement town) thought my husband and I were crazy for letting her go.

But - she eventually went, and survived travelling alone in Europe, and successfully walked all the way from SJPDP to SdC. BY HERSELF. (Of course - we all know she wasn't REALLY alone). And you know what? She had a blast. She has been back about a month now and constantly tells everyone about her summer and how she wishes she was back "on the Camino". And now all her friends think it is pretty cool that she did this and some are wanting to do it too.

THAT is how you get teens to go on the Camino - find 1 or more teens who are interested and take them - and then word of mouth will spread to their friends. And teens - most aren't interested in the religious aspect of the Camino persay - but they will learn about the religious aspect as they go - especially if they are being accompanied by an adult who shares their knowledge along the way. My daughter isn't religious - but she totally loved the religious history of the Camino. And she is now even excited as she is preparing to take a "Religion 101" course at her university.
 
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Mary Joy O'Meara

Often on a Camino
Time of past OR future Camino
Via de la Plata (2020/2022); Frances (2021)
I had a meeting with our pastor and youth pastor this morning that was quite discouraging. I wish I had the collective of pilgrims past in the room. They both described the post COVID experience of getting youth out of the house. Parents, but especially teens are reluctant to go out and meet with friends because they can do all the "socializing" from their homes through their phones. Even if we offered a scholarship to Spain, their assessment was that we would have a difficult time getting youth to go. Have any of you have a similar experiences with family, or other teens you know? Any luck understanding its true origins, or what will entice youth to go? We live in the Pacific Northwest where outdoor activity is normally within the culture.
I have been doing Caminos for ten years. In the early days, I was enthusiastic about encouraging people to do a Camino. My encouragement, or nowadays lack thereof, has changed dramatically over the years.

I walked with two of my kids when they were young adults. The one who thrived (accompanied me two times, stayed on after I had to fly home to work) had not been much of a hiker previously. The one who suffered (sleep, food, everything seemed to be difficult) was an experienced outdoors person.

I have seen so many people, especially young people, struggle mightily — physically, spiritually, emotionally. Caminos are difficult, especially for anyone who does not have good stamina and endurance (more important than strength) and perhaps more importantly some kind of “calling.”

Nowadays I still love to talk about my Caminos with anyone who wants to listen, but I initially discourage people. Once in awhile, someone comes back and has a thirst to hear more. And the Camino eventually calls some of these.

Last fall I met a woman on the Frances who was figuring how to incorporate the Camino into a curriculum she was developing for an international school. I’m not sure what she ended up deciding but I think she was headed towards something like: 7-10 days max, daypacks only (luggage service), some kind of pre-arrangement available for kids to leave if they were physically or emotionally unable to handle the Camino.

If you are able to go with young people, set realistic expectations. Most of the younger people who started with me in SJPP in 2021 had headed home by Pamplona. And watching my daughter struggle on the Caminn (she walked from SJPP to Burgos) years ago was tough for me. So I recommend you go slow.

I have certainly met many young people who thrived on the Camino, but it is not for everybody, even great mountain hikers from the NW!
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
2019
I had a meeting with our pastor and youth pastor this morning that was quite discouraging. I wish I had the collective of pilgrims past in the room. They both described the post COVID experience of getting youth out of the house. Parents, but especially teens are reluctant to go out and meet with friends because they can do all the "socializing" from their homes through their phones. Even if we offered a scholarship to Spain, their assessment was that we would have a difficult time getting youth to go. Have any of you have a similar experiences with family, or other teens you know? Any luck understanding its true origins, or what will entice youth to go? We live in the Pacific Northwest where outdoor activity is normally within the culture.
I can't help you with teens but I can tell you of my experience this year and perhaps it will give you some hope. When I walked my first Camino my granddaughter was not even a year old. I gave her my shell when I finished. A few years later my second granddaughter then aged 4 asked where her shell was. so off I went again and they came out to Santiago to meet me, They loved the week that they spent there. Twice more for me on the Camino and then had to cancel in October 2021 due to family bereavement so left planning for this year. At Christmas my daughter asked when you walk next year can the girls meet you again and walk a couple of days with you? They are now 10 and 7. I asked if I trained them could they walk 10k a day for 10 days and they could obtain a Compostela of their own. We started at Morgade 29th May and arrived in SDC 7th June. They carried their own packs and walked every step. My son-in-law came with us. 3 generations on the Camino. My daughter stayed at home with the 2 year old. For us all it was the experience of a lifetime with wonderful memories. They were given time off school to experience the culture (not Disneyland Paris as the head teacher put it). The girls now tell everyone that as soon as they are old enough they are going to bring their friends and walk the whole way just like grandad. Don't give up hope.
Buen Camino.
Vince,
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
I'm not sure that this is a problem to be solved.
You can expose people to the Camino and some will be excited about the idea while others won't, regardless of age. I don't see why any group should be "encouraged" or pushed to walk the Camino.
 

Crosscheck

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Sevilla to Gijon via San Salvador '22
Frances '22
My daughter walked the CP with me when she was 16. She was eager to go and four years later wishes she had the free time to walk another camino. After she graduates, her future will include caminos as well as other adventures.

She has an iPhone, tiktok, instagram, and she dealt with covid restrictions. I recognize that many in the USA are overly obsessed with electronics and do not fare well with restrictions but there must be a number of kids in your church who would be eager to go on a long walk in the outdoors.
 

Marianjhart

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
May-June (2018)
I had a meeting with our pastor and youth pastor this morning that was quite discouraging. I wish I had the collective of pilgrims past in the room. They both described the post COVID experience of getting youth out of the house. Parents, but especially teens are reluctant to go out and meet with friends because they can do all the "socializing" from their homes through their phones. Even if we offered a scholarship to Spain, their assessment was that we would have a difficult time getting youth to go. Have any of you have a similar experiences with family, or other teens you know? Any luck understanding its true origins, or what will entice youth to go? We live in the Pacific Northwest where outdoor activity is normally within the culture.
I just hiked the CF with my 12-year-old twins. They both had quite a bit of anxiety about being in crowds, for example at albergues or on public transportation. They also didn’t love that we had limited access to wifi. What helped them was knowing that we’d have some time each day to connect to wifi at pilgrims bars and be in touch with friends back home as well as quiet time when we didn’t have to talk with each other and could listen to a book or rest or whatnot.

My daughter was excited to go for spiritual reasons and also because she wanted to challenge. My son, who also has autism, was less enthusiastic at the outset but agreed to go in exchange for my offer to buy him an unlimited number of cokes and neopolitanas in the towns we passed through. He also liked the sense of accomplishment and being able to use his gifts to help us navigate cities, make decisions regarding how far we should hike and when we needed to start based on his analysis of the weather and other factors. Ultimately, they both had a great time and relaxed a lot when we actually got to walking and interacting with other pilgrims. They did a good job with the walking, and other aspects of pilgrim life.

Good luck!
 

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
I'm not sure that this is a problem to be solved.
You can expose people to the Camino and some will be excited about the idea while others won't, regardless of age. I don't see why any group should be "encouraged" or pushed to walk the Camino.
I would almost disappointed if my children had wanted to do the Camino in their teens! Europe = Great cities, bars, clubs, concerts, sophisticated attractive people, potential romance and so on. They can do the Camino when they get much older if they so wish!
 
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McSherry

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (Part) - 2019
I am wondering.......your pastor and youth pastor are unenthusiastic.....BUT have you spoken to the young people themselves? What do they say? Maybe you will be a catalyst to rekindle the outdoor connection....
I was wondering the same thing. My son and all of his friends were soooo sick of not having in-person social contacts that they would have gone in an instant once it was allowed (post Covid, if there is such a thing). Even now, they all seem to dread the possibility of such confinement again, should it be required.

Our youngest son who was 16 years old when we suggested that we go on the Camino. This was in pre-Covid days. He was only slightly hesitant until we showed him the botafumeiro swinging in a video…then he was all in. As it turned out, the botafumeiro was not swinging because of renovations when we went, but he had a great time, as did we hiking with him.
 

walkinglover

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, '16 and '18; Portuguese '17; Ingles - 19
I had a meeting with our pastor and youth pastor this morning that was quite discouraging. I wish I had the collective of pilgrims past in the room. They both described the post COVID experience of getting youth out of the house. Parents, but especially teens are reluctant to go out and meet with friends because they can do all the "socializing" from their homes through their phones. Even if we offered a scholarship to Spain, their assessment was that we would have a difficult time getting youth to go. Have any of you have a similar experiences with family, or other teens you know? Any luck understanding its true origins, or what will entice youth to go? We live in the Pacific Northwest where outdoor activity is normally within the culture.
Kids and their phones are a problem in many aspects of our lives. Ask any teacher what phones do to their day. Parents have relinquished much control of their children to cell phones. The only way to solve today's problems with cell phones is for parents to take charge. The same is true of video games. Both the use of the phone and video games are addictive. Many adults are also addicted to their phones.

With all of that said, we are wanting to interest our now sophomore granddaughter into going with us next year. (We leave for my 5th and my husband's 8th in two weeks.) We were recently told that when college admissions counselors are looking for students to whom to award the "biggie" scholarships, they look for something unique that the student has done. Most competitive students already have leadership, the academics, and a great essay, so a walk on a Camino would make a student who has done it stand out among her/his peers.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Recruit from high school cross country teams, the runners shouldn't be put off from walking. Advanced placement students who do more studying should be interested in learning new things and might not be spending so much time on social media, calls and computers so also might not mind giving them up for a month.
 

WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Time of past OR future Camino
2015 & 2016 (partial)
They both described the post COVID experience of getting youth out of the house. Parents, but especially teens are reluctant to go out and meet with friends because they can do all the "socializing" from their homes through their phones.
I was late to work, so I pulled into a café parking lot instead of driving into the college campus. Son says "you expect me to walk all the way to school?" Me: "No, I expect you to cross the street and get on the FREE bus that will take you the two blocks to school!"
 

Chiptheshrink

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2016 solo, Frances again with my wife 2022
"Youth" are individuals. It wouldn't make sense to ask how to motivate "Adults" to hike the Camino, as though they are a single bloc with identical beliefs, wishes and motivations. Seek out those youths for whom the experience resonates, and your job will be easier...
 
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