The oasis of smiles…


Cesto del LupoSome time in the past, someone said: ‘Happiness is a direction, not a place’.
But, actually, there is a place (and not just the one), not far away from where I write, where happiness takes its most candid and sincere form: a child’s smile.

Set in the midst of the green Appenines around Pistoia, inside a WWF-affiliated, protected area, there is Dynamo Camp, a summer camp designed for children with life-threatening and chronic diseases who are on treatment or in post-therapy convalescence . Opened in 2007, it’s the first summer camp organised expressly for seriously ill children, where they can have fun and delight in the unspoiled nature of the surrounding Pistoian reserve.

Dynamo camp is a member of the Association of the hole in the wall camps, a non-profit association created by the well-known actor Paul Newman. It’s aim is to let these children experience, even just for a while, the innocence of a childhood that they have never lived.

In fact, the camp is completely free for all campers between 7 to 16 years of age thanks to the donations of private citizens, companies, institutions, etc. Expert volunteers take care of the children and a troupe of professional doctors look after them – whilst ensuring they don’t intrude on the children’s idyllic moments.
This camp is the sole Italian member of the American association; in fact, in Europe there are only 4 other countries that host member camps: Hungary, France, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The children that visit the camp have been, despite their age, forced to face serious problems and very difficult life situations. The summer camp represents an opportunity for them to mix with other children, strike up friendships, experience a different environment to their daily life – to ‘recharge their batteries’, and helps them face the daily difficulties after their stay in Tuscany.

The children have several, varied programs to choose from; these can often inolve their families, especially those who have suffered big shocks, helping parents and siblings accept the situation peacefully.

The setting for the camp was not chosen by chance: the park of Limestre (the exact name of the village) is the ideal location for children to get up close and personal with nature, to become familiar with it, and learn how to respect and love all its aspects. From the most common plants to fruit trees; from flowers to the animals who call it home: which include deer, wild sheep, fallow-deer, wild boar and fox, but are mainly wolves. The wolf has recently made a return to the Pistoian Appennines, after leaving some years ago and causing serious knock-on problems to the flora and fauna balance of the habitat. It is, therefore, only fitting that the wolf has become the symbol of the nature eserve, opened in 2006: Il cesto del lupo (the wolf basket).

For anyone interested in visiting this beautiful park: during the open season (from mid-March to the end of October), various themed group guided tours are usually organised. Anyone can take part in these excursions, but you must make a reservation. Click here to download the 2010 Season Program

We’ve come to the end of our journey into the heart of the Pistoian Appennines, and we hope that we’ve successfully awakened the scout that lies inside each one of you… we should never forget that the preservation of our enviroment can depend on apparently insignificant actions in our daily lives: we must never again allow the wolf to be forced to move to a different wood!


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Commenti (2) | June 17, 2009

2 Responses to “The oasis of smiles…”

  1. The hippo-routes: the future of transports leds eco sustainable paths | Tuscany.Travel Says:
    August 10th, 2010 at 17:38

    [...] since it crosses the Amiata Mount, while the other, Ippovia di San Jacopo, passes through the Appennines around Pistoia, where the wolf has recently come back. According to me, this is one of the most interesting and [...]

  2. Nature, traditions and culture on exhibition on the mountains over Pistoia Says:
    June 20th, 2011 at 16:28

    [...] Summer sun. Even if I had already written about Montagna Pistoiese during our Tuscany travel to Dynamo Camp in Limestre and Abetone ski resorts, just to mention the more recent, the Ecomuseo of Montagna [...]

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