Bowspirit Kids' Nautical Holiday Camp - A Recreation from Illness

The aim of the activities of the Bowspirit Kids Group is to establish a facility that will give sick and traumatised children and their siblings - often called the "shadow children" - the opportunity to have fun and take a recreation from the illness. Bowspirit Kids views itself as a nautical holiday camp that does not take a specific, overarching therapeutic approach, but of course includes individual therapy and treatments. Our focus is on enjoying life, having fun and being a kid.
Unfortunately children are not spared from experiencing such traumatic events as the diagnosis of a serious illness, death of a loved one or having to flee your home and country. The mental, emotional and physical stress of hospital stays, treatments and therapy is often an everyday occurrence for the child and his/her family for years. If the child has to travel far from home for the treatments, the stressful situation is exacerbated even more. Many of the young patients are not allowed to enjoy the usual childhood activities: playing, swimming, climbing and a lot more.

There are no public organisations or legal entitlements that provide for taking a "recreation from illness". There is only one facility in Germany - based in Heidelberg and exclusively for children who have cancer - and its capacity is limited. We are not aware of any institution in the world that offers this kind of facility on the water.
Our concept therefore envisages the establishment of a year-round camp that utilises the mobility of a ship to operate outside the base location and as a nautical holiday camp has all the necessary facilities on board:
  • Bedrooms for the children and their siblings, as well as for adult companions if needed
  • Dining services, catering and the camp's own on-board kitchen
  • Recreation and common rooms for all kinds of activities
  • Climbing parcourse
  • Swimming pool

We intend to purchase a previously owned passenger ferry that already has all the facilities and equipment, including easy access to the loading deck via stern doors (which operate independently of the crane logistics in the destination ports) and space for a climbing parcourse (former car deck).
The next steps will comprise:
  • Setting up and furnishing the rooms
  • Stationing in a base port on the German coast
  • Travelling to different countries and taking enough time to organise recreational camp activities with local partners there
The plan is to station the Bowspirit Kids ship as a nautical holiday camp in a German base port at the Baltic Sea, ideally in Lübeck-Travemünde or Lübeck. Depending on the current volume of donations and the proceeds from commercial sponsoring activities, sea voyages to various locations worldwide are planned in the coming years, in order to present the Bowspirit Kids Group and its work there and to initiate further projects based on the guiding theme of a "recreation from illness". The visits to the locations should also provide sufficient time for local encounters, "taster stays" and educational adventure-based camps.

In addition, the Bowspirit Kids Group offers maritime adventure-based and experiential learning programmes for children and youth to discover and to explore the ocean.