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At the beginning of the last century, the Comité Universel des Unions Chrétiennes de Jeunes Gens (UCJG) organised camps at Le Sentier in the Vallée de Joux to train the leaders of the European sections before the "Great War".

And then, in 1914, right in the middle of the camp, the war turned these young men who had come to pray together into adversaries. The French, Germans, English, Italians and Americans, after a final embrace, left for their own borders. The Swiss alone remained isolated in their neutrality.

Drawing on his experience at Le Sentier, Charles Béguin, a Neuchâtel pastor and leader of the YMCAs in French-speaking Switzerland, found suitable premises for young people at the Château de Vaumarcus. Above all, he found the dynamic Dr Liengme, ready to welcome the 80 French-speaking Unionists who had responded to this first appeal in August 1915.

August 1919. Other premises had to be found for the 300 young people who had flocked to Vaumarcus! The storm tore down the tent set up in the driveway of the château. Barracks abandoned by internees after the war were bought and the land, now owned by the Camp, was rented.

From 1920 to the present day, the Camp has continued to evolve: new buildings, adaptations and improvements, all designed to enable people to meet and exchange ideas in the best possible conditions. The Camp at Vaumarcus continues to work towards an ideal whose essential aim is to remain at the service of others.

During the Second World War, a Swiss army headquarters was set up at the Camp, and its name has since appeared on official topographical maps.

During the second half of the last century, the Camp became increasingly open to groups from all walks of life, with a wide variety of activities and several groups living together at the same time. The average number of people per group fell, but the number of groups exploded. The infrastructure therefore needs to be adapted and modernised accordingly. While remaining modest, comfort is improving to meet the growing demands of the Camp's guests.

The "V92" (Vaumarcus 2000) project, launched in 1988 and completed in 2002, brought all the infrastructure up to current standards, ensuring that the roofs were watertight and providing the minimum comfort required. As the buildings are not insulated and are equipped only with auxiliary heating, the Camp remained closed in winter (from November to March).

The "V2k" project launched in 1997 was designed to prepare the Camp for the challenges of the new century, give it a young, modern image and enable it to be used all year round. Given the very high cost of the work, the project was divided into successive stages, the first - and most important - of which was completed in 2001 and completely remodelled the landscape of the hill. Its symbol, which has become the icon of the Camp, is a round glass building, a veritable balcony over the lake. The new buildings are insulated and heated by a central boiler and remote pipes. Expo 02 made a major contribution to raising the profile of the Camp and its new image across the country, particularly in German-speaking Switzerland.

The second stage of the "V2k" project was completed on 31 May 2008, with the inauguration of a significant addition to the Camp's capacity and modularity. This involved the replacement of an old pavilion with a modern permanent building with a capacity of 34 beds, as well as the conversion and renovation of a dilapidated but listed building into a multi-purpose hall for 50 people and a related professional kitchen.

From 2015 to 2017, the Camp is investing CHF 5 million, mostly raised by donations from institutions and private individuals, to radically transform and modernise its "Main Building". A modern facility with a large-scale professional kitchen, the building offers guests several dining and meeting rooms for groups of between 6 and 300 people. The 2 main rooms are equipped with state-of-the-art individual facilities (including "Forum Ecoute" certified magnetic loops for the hearing-impaired), in an unspoilt setting with period woodwork and framework.

A few images from the period


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