Sunday, April 27, 2008

Choosing the Venue for Vol Conference 2008

With the time limit against us (we need to book the venue quickly), I think it's best if we narrow the choice down to two - although please email me if you're unhappy with this method. Thus, we can either go for last year's choice, Bayan Khongai Camp, or an alternative option given by VSOer Ruth Richardson. Please have a look at the options below and get back to me with your feedback (either using the 'comment' facility below or emailing me at

Option 1: Bayan Khongai Write-up borrowed from David Whitworth (thanks David!).

A typical ger camp layout with accommodation gers, sleeping 4 to a ger, grouped around a larger restaurant ger. With 38 of us, we will most probably have the whole camp to ourselves. That should destroy the silence!!!!

This camp is near the top of a hill, 1 hours drive from VSO to the north west of UB. The off road bit to the camp is a little rough but mercifully short, passing by farms growing potatoes and other veg.
Showers and toilets are housed in the end section of this new-ish looking block. The new block also has houses a smart bar which we can use a conference room when we all need to be together. The restaurant ger is large enough to take us all at one sitting.

Loads of space outside, including a hard court for ball games. Depending on the weather, most of the meetings etc can be outside.

Option 2: Equal Step Camp Write-up by Ruth Richardson

The camp is located in Tov aimag near Batsumber soum. The camp is set in beautiful countryside; surrounded by the Mongolian steppe and besides a river. It is possible to drive there in about 3 hours but the road is a little difficult. However, the camp is located on the train line to Darkhan so it would probably make more sense to take the train which also takes 3 hours. There are three buildings providing dorm accommodation for potentially more than 60 people. There is also a main building/ conference type room (which is shown in the above picture).

The facilities are basic; drop pit loo’s (but clean), pumped water for kitchen use but for washing it will be collected from the river. There is a basic shower facility. An experienced chef can prepare all our meals. As the food will have to be brought to the camp it means we can have total control (if we want) over the menu.

The huge selling point of this venue is that all the revenue after covering costs will be used to provide street and working children an opportunity to come to the camp this summer.
The summer camp is organised by a Mongolian charity called the Equal Step Centre. The Equal Step Centre was established in 2002 and since then has assisted hundreds of Ulaanbaatar’s poorest children, many of which are homeless, child labourers or have been abused. The summer camp gives these vulnerable children the opportunity to leave behind their harsh lives in the city and enjoy their adolescence in a safe and supportive environment. The children are engaged in lots of activities such as dance, singing, swimming, sports, nature walks and educational classes.


Anonymous said...

I vote for the ES camp, but I can understand if people don't want an extra four hours driving over the weekend...

linda said...

I would prefer the ES camp.

SoPH said...

ES camp for me too!

Sarah said...

I visited the ES camp when there were the children there from ES last summer. It is in the most beautiful location and I think the benefit for ES is a major factor to consider. The facilities are basic but there is everything there that you would need for a few days. The river is just down the hill so it is easy to freshen up there or even swim! I like the idea of having some control over the food too. So obviously it gets my vote!

Yvonne said...

ES camp sounds great!

gecca said...

ES camp for me... please?

nomadologist said...

In terms of sustainable and accessible NGO-business-(eco)tourism, the ES camp to stands out to me. VSO vols are currently surveying universal accessibility there, one advantage being that accommodations should be possible for people with disabilities. The view and the setting look great, and the potential benefits to the ES organisation are right-on as far as Secure Livelihoods are concerned.