With support from the Dentsu Scholarship Foundation, Habitat Japan held a nationwide two-day youth training camp, “JCC Festa 2023”. Inviting members from around the country’s 42 university campus chapters to gather in Tokyo, this was the first event of its kind since the onset of the pandemic. Overcoming a period of restrictions and limitations on volunteer activities, approximately 300 students gathered for these long-awaited two days.

This year’s theme “We Are Campus Chapters: We’re More Than You Can Possibly Imagine!”, was decided on by 48 4th year campus chapter members looking to pass on their passion to a new generation of Habitat youth. For these 4th years who spent their college life until now facing restrictions on both schooling and extracurriculars, the JCC Festa was a long-awaited chance to lead and educate their peers in coming together to learn and plan how to act as a team to create positive impacts greater than any one person can achieve alone.

On the first day of camp the air was electric as many students were able to meet face-to-face with friends from across the country for the first time. The 300 attending students were divided into groups and began with self-introductions, sharing their individual Habitat volunteering experiences and wisdom with their teams for the day through workshops planned by 4th year members. The first day ended with a mingling game, encouraging connections between youths from different teams all around the country.

The second day’s theme was team building, helping prepare students to return to their communities and tackle local issues with their team. Through hands-on workshops, students formed groups by campus chapter and region, sharing information and ideas, planning what first step towards their goals they can take after returning home, writing it down on paper.

These paper idea "bricks" were then used to build a house with everyone!

One participant commented “It was a big step for us t be able to make the goals of our campus chapters clear. Through collaborating with our peers, we were able to spitball ideas and come up with real plans of action on how to spread the word and start new projects”.

Although the gathering was only two days, it was a valuable opportunity for veteran campus chapter members to pass on their wisdom and inspire generations of Habitat youth to come. With the theme of "We Are Campus Chapters!" in mind, Festa participants have returned to their local communities, expanding Habitat's sphere of support throughout Japan to their local communities and to the world. Habitat will continue to produce young leaders by promoting youth participation in housing support starting with our campus chapters.