IAYC 2015, Klingenthal, Deutschland

2. bis 22. August 2015 – several reports

The Bubble-Universe
By Livia, a university student from Hungary

2015 is my third camp here in the IAYC. When I first applied I was expecting your everyday science camp that is more like a summer school than a place to go to and have fun, but it turned out to be so much more.

Alejandro Pertuz Domínguez, Spanien – M31 Andromeda Nebel

When you arrive, you are greeted by strange, new faces. Some of them are nervous, a little bit afraid, they don’t know what is going on. They are “Newbies”, just like you. Others are wearing cheery smiles, excitement radiating from them, greeting each other with hugs. Many of them are mixing with the newbies, speaking reassuring words (yet sometimes mysterious, really confusing ones), telling them what a great decision they made by coming to IAYC. “Oldies” they are called. As the camp progresses you get to know the traditions, games, and you finally understand what the Oldies were talking about earlier. Your working group becomes your family but the whole camp is open and accepting. To quote one of my fellow oldies from his first year “Everyone is just so unexpectedly nice, it’s a bit surreal.” Then deadline passes. Three weeks flew away as fast as never before and you find yourself at home, sitting on your bed, reading cup messages. Everything you see reminds you of the camp and all the great memories. ’Those were the days’ has never been so sad before. Even months after the camp you miss the people you met there and whenever you start talking about your experiences a huge grin appears on your face. People ask what the camp was like, but you don’t know the answer, it cannot be described by words. There is one thing you know for sure: you want to go back.

Josh Veitch-Michaelis, England – Ausflugstag nach Jena

You are back. You are greeting everyone with smiles and hugs, exited for another three weeks of magic. Because that is what this camp is. There are many new faces while others are missing. But because this is IAYC everything falls into place. You get used to the new voice waking you up, make new friends and get even closer to old ones. You are not clueless anymore, and you find yourself smirking when an Oldie makes a reference to a tradition not spoken of outside the camp, or looking for constellations not only on the night sky. You work on your project, socialize and time passes by even faster (if it’s possible). The camp is coming to an end again and the thing constantly on your mind is “ I don’t want to leave!” But you are home again. You are already familiar with the IAYC hangover, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Whenever you say “The camp” everyone around you knows you are talking about IAYC. Thinking about not being able to go back is a heartbreak in itself, so you try everything in your power to be there the next year.

At the train station, you see many strange, new faces. Some of them are nervous, a little bit afraid, they don’t know what is going on. Newbies. You see your friends wearing cheery smiles, excitement radiating from them. You go and greet them with hugs. You remember the time you were a Newbie and how nervous you were, so you go and talk to them, reassure them what a great decision they made by coming to the camp. You are an Oldie now, you are the one saying those mysterious words that confuse them. There are many events you are looking forward to. You are already speculating about where are you going on excursion day, what will be the colour of the camp T-shirt or what will be the theme for the movie game, even though only a few days have passed. You know how fast time flies, so you throw yourself into camp life with all you have. Sleep is overrated, you don’t want to miss a second of the camp. You appreciate all the short moments of silences and even mornings can be bearable when you have waking up service. You find yourself singing Country Roads and thinking about how every country road should lead to IAYC.

Alejandro Pertuz Domínguez, Spanien – The Moon

IAYC feels like home, a place where we all belong.

“IAYC is a bubble, a world of its own”, where it doesn’t matter where you are from, what you do outside of the camp. You shut out the outside world and make the camp happen with the others. As I’ve said before, no-one outside of IAYC can understand what this camp is, what it means to its participants. While at the camp everything feels to be in perfect order in the world.

The Sciency parts

My primary reason for coming to the IAYC had been the chance to work on a scientific project. I found the idea of working on a project individually or in small groups with the leaders only supervising and not telling us what to do exactly a little bit scary, but still promising. I came to the camp because I wanted to test myself, to see if scientific work is really what I want to do. That had been two years ago. It turned out, all my fears were unfounded. The working groups are like families, always helping each other. Whenever we are struck, the working group leaders always help and guide us until we are on track again. The projects I’ve done in IAYC and the camp itself inspired me to do many things. It gave me the push I needed to decide for good that I wanted to be a scientist. It also gave me enough confidence in my scientific English skills and myself, that I decided to go to a university in England.

Josh Veitch-Michaelis, England – Landessternwarte Thüringen, Tautenburg

This year I have been working on an awesome project, Irati made sure everyone was happy with the project they were doing. We encountered many problems, but we proved to be able to solve them, leaving me with a feeling of achievement. With all the experiences and sense of community IAYC gives, sometimes I feel like projects are not getting the recognition they deserve, but it doesn’t mean they are any less significant. They taught me so much in the past years about working morale, time management (“Lets have a short moment of panic!”) and working in a group despite possible personality clashes. This year was no exception, learning a coding language and coding was a nice challenge, even though working with only one computer that could run IPython Notebook proved to be a challenge in itself.

Alejandro Pertuz Domínguez, Spanien – M45, die Plejaden

How does IAYC compare?

I have been to several camps beside IAYC, sciency and none sciency as well (though none of them had been international). None of the other camps I have been to have been on par with this one. IAYC has a special atmosphere that makes it unique. No other places had this many fun traditions. The leaders there were more like teachers, while here this year we had leaders I met first as fellow participants. They are also our friends, people like us. Without all the amazing leaders it would be far cry from what the camp really is. The fact that IAYC had been hosted by so many countries and had participants from even more makes it a great place to get to know more about other cultures. Coming to the camp and seeing so many different customs and people can be a bit overwhelming, but after the culture shock passes you realize they are all the same as you; friendly, nice people who love science.


Writing this statement I had many difficulties. It is difficult to only write about IAYC 2015, when I have been to 2 other ones as well. I cannot view them separately, they are each part of the big IAYC experience. It is also quite hard to write about the camp, tell my opinion, my feelings about it in a few short paragraphs. I don’t think it is possible to describe the camp and do it justice, even if I had a whole book to do so. I still have a feeling while writing the 3rd page in LateX that I have missed out something really important. So, to sum up my statement I am going to quote Daniel: “So, basically write about if the camp gives you a warm and fluffy feeling.” Does it? It definitely does.

Alejandro Pertuz Domínguez, Spanien – Beobachtungsfeld, Klingenthal

Camp Impressions
by Katrin, a university student from Germany

Coming to IAYC is like entering another world! In this world it doesn’t matter where you are from, what religion you have, how old you are, or how much experience you have ­ it is a great mix of different personalities. And in this IAYC family it is so easy to feel confident. There is this freedom of being totally yourself! This is particular and rare in a world that gets more and more superficial. So much better is the experience of real teamwork and the cultural exchange just by spending time together.

And it is a great time! Staying on the observation field till the sun is rising, singing and chatting and of course we all love to discuss constellations ;) My words are hardly enough to describe it. There is something like a magical cloud of happiness flooding around and nobody can or even wants to escape. All in all it is an experience that I’ll never forget. And I really want to come back next year. Hopefully see you all in UK!

Camp Impressions
by Maria, a high school student from Russia

IAYC is the first summer camp I have ever visited and at the beginning I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I tried not to have many expectations of the camp before I came, but still it turned out to be very unpredictable and definitely more fun than I thought. I was definitely surprised by the amount of fun you can have at a science related summer camp. The best thing about the camp is how friendly people are and after a couple of days you feel as if you have known them all for a long time, it is a very homely and comfortable place.

Alejandro Pertuz Domínguez, Spanien – Camphouse Klingenthal

The people at IAYC definitely make this experience very special, but also the amount of interesting projects that we manage to do in just under 3 weeks. I have learned a lot of new things about physics, astronomy and engineering. With my group we built a radio telescope and received some data, this was unlike anything I have done before. Frequent talks and symposium were very interesting and educational. Needless to say that sky above Klingenthal is one of the clearest skies I have ever seen in my life.The lack of internet and constant communication with people from all over the world makes this camp so unique and if I have a chance, I will definitely come again.

Camp Impressions
by Michal, a high school student from Poland

It is not easy to accurately describe what in fact IAYC is. For three weeks you find yourself, as it were, out of time and space, with a bunch of other people from all around the world.

At first, it was a bit tricky to get used to the new situation. Lots of new names and lots of new faces. Getting up late, and staying up even later. This all was mesmerising and slightly confusing at the same time.  But as the camp settled down, I started to notice the amazing atmosphere. Despite significant diversity, people were extremely friendly and open towards others. They chatted and joked as if they were close friends and as the time passed, they became more like family members. And for sure, there has to be more to these bonds than just mutual interest in astronomy.

And when it comes to astronomy, I was also struck by the projects and the academic level  of the camp, i.e. participants and leaders. While all projects revolved around astronomy, they varied across working groups to an extent, that everyone can find something suitable and enjoyable for them. Some of the projects seemed intricate and professional, although astronomical rookies could explore more basic problems. And of course, you could always discuss whichever topic with whomever you wanted.

But IAYC is far more than that. It’s a place where while talking with your friends, you learn about distant cultures. While looking at the stars, you learn about yourself. It’s a place, where despite being hundreds of miles away and surrounded by people you met a few days ago, you feel at home.

Josh Veitch-Michaelis, England – Landessternwarte Thüringen, Tautenburg