Thanks to our generous donors, the Fund is pleased to have supported the Order’s 36th International Summer Camp for Disabled Youth in Germany this year.

In this article Benedikt Bögle, one of the camp’s organisers, relives an unforgettable week.

Camels trot through the inner courtyard of Ettal’s Upper Bavarian Benedictine monastery. An ice cream cart stands in the corner. A snake winds leisurely around the arms of young people standing nearby. The scene is a week-long holiday for 500 young people from across the globe: the largest holiday camp for people with disabilities in the world.

This was the Order’s 36th International Holiday Camp (or ‘Maltacamp’), hosted by the youth organization of the German Association. The week took place in the beautiful grounds of a monastery and boarding school in Ettal, near Munich, and was attended by teams from 23 countries.

The organisers’ goal was to “make the impossible possible” for people with disabilities – and they succeeded. During the course of the week, disabled young people and volunteer helpers went rafting, paragliding and indoor skydiving. They visited Munich’s key sites, such as the Allianz Arena, the home of Bayern Munich, the BMW Museum and the castle at Herrenchiemsee. And, back in Ettal, those with disabilities and their helpers made art, forged new friendships and danced the night away.

Joachim Herrmann, the Bavarian Minister of the Interior, attended Holy Mass with participants in Munich’s Theatinerkirche, as well as evening adoration in the Basilica at Ettal. He later reflected on his Facebook page: “I am extremely pleased that this year the 36th International Maltacamp is taking place in Bavaria, with so many young people attending. We want to show the guests that physical or mental handicaps are no obstacles to fun, joy and friendship. We want to show them the very best of Bavaria”.

The Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, was another popular visitor to the camp. He told participants: “You are in Ettal, where the Benedictine monks have been searching for God for almost 700 years.  Use this week to search for God, in Holy Mass, in prayer, but also in your community: find God amongst one another.”

The monks of Ettal were also delighted to host such a large, inclusive young people’s camp. Abbot Barnabas Bögle said: “Hospitality is an essential characteristic for a disciple of Jesus – so it is a great thing for us to have so many young people as our guests with the Maltacamp”.

The aim of Ettal’s Maltacamp was to tear down barriers and change perceptions of what is possible for those with disabilities. Thanks to the hard work of all those who planned and supported the camp, this aim was achieved, with love, determination and humility.

More information and videos from the camp can be found here.