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We Make the Future – Communications Camp
What we do in our daily life affects more and more the future of the entire planet. It is therefore
important to develop future tools for everyday life. Communication camp is way to inspire future
orientation and give concrete example on options available in the future.
Futures researchers, on the one hand, study globally important phenomena and their future
influence and, on the other hand, the development of technology and its influence on daily life.
Future workshops are an example of a method for examining the future from the everyday life level
(Nurmela 2017). Combining global phenomena and everyday life is less common. Narratives (Jarva
2017) are one method, and another one is to produce examples of the ways of life in a globalised
Communication camps have been created due to an interest in the future. Activity in these two is
guided by the idea of communication based on mutual trust between people. The motive for
developing the model is a concern about the influences of global phenomena (pollution of the
environment, loss of workplaces, global inequality, supranational entertainment etc.) on our daily
lives: loneliness, lack of vision, insecurity, unwillingness to participate etc. Applications of
information technology in different fields are often in the background of these phenomena. At the
communication camps, information technology has been intentionally put in the service of future
interaction society. In this article, I intend to explain the role of Communication camps as places for
making the future and places that inspire in visioning the future. Therefore, I shall give an overview
of the 30-years long history of the camps, from the point of view of future orientation
I shall first examine ideas from the sphere of futures studies for developing the models, and
secondly give an overview of the theoretical basis of the models i.e. the three components of
communication skills in future information society. One of these components will be analysed in
more detail. After this theoretical examination, The principles of communication camps will be
presented, followed by a description of how the Communication camp functions. Then I evaluate
how the communication camp responds to the needs of the interaction society. Then I will present a
future laboratory developed from the miniature communication camps. Finally, I summarize the
importance of future thinking and making the future.
The idea of a Communication camp was developed in 1987, The basic idea of the camps’ activity
has been nearly the same since the beginning. A paper is made daily, as well as a video and a radio
programme. Interaction is based on and channelled through daily media. For a comprehensive view
and in order to understand the structures of the community, camp members rotate their tasks daily.
In this way, everyone makes a paper, a video and a radio programme, takes care of the information
desk and the restaurant. This is also a way to learn to appreciate one’s own work and the work
others do. There are no outside personnel as cooks or cleaners: these are also tasks of the campers.
Communication devices are used to enhance the activities and also for self-expression and
interaction. Play is taken seriously. (Luokola 1989).
COMMUNICATION CAMPS: A FUTURE STUDIES PERSPECTIVE
Future studies is a value-rational field of science, as it includes a goal of preferred futures. It is not
an umbrella science for other fields, although it uses results and methods from other fields of
science in the problem setting that concerns the future of human communities and information on
these communities .
Making scenarios and future making are among the methods of future studies. In principle, the
methods include not only the methods used within the field, but also all the methods used in other
fields of scientific research (Viherä 1999). Communication camp is method of future making.
Communication, technology and togetherness are combined in the one week camp
Interaction society is a scenario that has been often presented in future studies. Its starting points
are in the change in production, brought along by the information society, from industry to services;
the idea of rupture. A qualitative change in the multitude of needs takes place in that rupture. The
society where traditional agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry were a dominating force of
development is referred to by Malaska (1983) as a society of basic needs.
The phase that follows basic needs is a society of material needs, with industry as its dominating
form of production. Taylorian criteria for efficiency and functionality became dominant in industry,
as guiding principles and preconditions of infrastructure, the concept of work, terms of livelihood,
family structure and roles, education, health care, as well as agriculture, power and values (Malaska
1983). Meeting material needs requires maximal consumption of the produced goods; this is the
only solution for reducing prices to a minimum and launching mass production. In analogy to the
earlier rupture, we can now ask what, in the society of material needs, is the “fertiliser” that turns
extensive growth into intensive, to produce more from less and save capital, work, raw materials,
energy, working space, the environment, and at the same time improve quality and services in order
to provide a balanced way of life for people.
In an interaction society, additional wealth can be channelled to the fulfilment of new needs, due to
a new production potential created by the service sector. Information and the related technologies
are as vital in meeting these needs as power engines are in the case of material needs. The needs of
the interaction society can only be satisfied together with other people, on different forums.
Meeting the needs of interaction is a communication process, and requires communication skills.
Interaction in the information society has the potential to initiate creative activity among citizens,
“however idealistic that seems” (Malaska 1983). The interaction society leans primarily on the
communication abilities of its citizens. By now, there are clear indications of the existence of an
interaction society, such as the strong growth of social media, references to communality and
measures taken for making communality possible.
The models seek an answer to the question: What is the information society like where all have the
right to express themselves and be heard? The first impulses for this idea were given by Erik
Ahlman in his book “Ihmisen probleemi” (“The Problem of the Human”, 1953, in Finnish), where
he states that the idea of the human person is free self-expression, and Pentti Malaska in his
writings about interaction society (Malaska 1983). New communication technologies and
respectiveincluded communication services are also among the instruments of self-expression an
interaction in the information society.
Examining the information society, the notion of digital gap has recently been used to describe a
situation where one part of people has been left out of the reach of electronic communication and
information services. If Ahlman (1953) is right about the human idea is of self-expression, every
individual in a just information society should have the right and possibility also to express
themselves through new communication technology. A balanced social development should include
the right to remain outside the use of information technology and express oneself in some other way.
In this case, the community is faced with requirements of services of a new type to prevent people
from being left outside the networks of interaction. Ideas for these services have been developed in
the Communication camps, for example an info desk with a network secretary and restaurants using
creative problem-solving methods and electronic services.
When communication is understood as an interactive process of all the members of a community,
citizens need communication skills. These skills have three components:
Figure 1: Communication skills: Access, Know-how and Motivation
In order to be able to send and receive messages, access is the first thing we need – a device or a
place. Access can refer to a place where communication takes place face to face, or a telephone, a
letter, a fax, a message on a board etc. We may have access in many forms, but that is not enough to
make a successful communication event. The other party must have access as well, compatible with
ours. Second, we have to be technically able to access, and have the needed communication skills:
the skill to produce, send, receive, interpret and understand a message and the meaning of it in a
broader context. Third, we must have the will to communicate, to belong, and to contribute in a
Communication meeting basic existential needs
Motivation is often examined within the framework of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. However,
Maslow’s hierarchy is difficult to apply in communication. What is the significance of
communication skills in the human context? What kinds of needs does communication satisfy, what
does it threaten? Which needs is communication used for?
In the Communication camps, people’s needs have been approached through basic human
existential needs: becoming organised through a process of reflection, the feeling of belonging, and
doing, that is having a role in life (Turunen 1988).
Figure2: Basic existential needs
What is the best way to meet the basic existential needs using communication. In contemporary
society, basic existential needs are under threat. We can usually state that global information
streams are the threat. Becoming organised through reflection is difficult if one does not know the
origins of entertainment and news streams, and, for example, distinguish fact from fiction. Self-
organisation is not facilitated either by global power structures one has very little influence on.
Human communities disintegrate, families become fragmented, work communities change. Local
communities wither in the absence of activities and active members. People find it hard to join
through emotion and find their own communities. Change is what makes work and activity
meaningful. Tasks that were valued in the past are now without value, or can be substituted by
machines etc. It is truly time to find solutions for meeting the basic needs of people. Fulfilment of
material needs in industrial society does not answer to everyone’s basic existential needs. Our
environment no longer supports consumption in the western countries. It is time to reflect on the
basic existential needs of interaction society.
Social media popularity can be attributed to the interaction point of view of society. With social
media, a universal possibility for self-expression is becoming a reality, as promised by the
Meeting basic existential needs requires new kinds of communication skills. Self-expression and
interaction are not possible without the ability for self-expression.
A human being does not communicate alone. If we examine communication skills from the
perspective of the individual alone, we leave the individual alone, either as a consumer of mass
communication or as a hate speech writer on the Internet forums. At the same time we lose the idea
of communication as an interaction event between the receiver and sender of the message. In a
community, all members participate in the communication process; they all have their significance
in the community’s culture. Keeping a community in time and bringing out shared views are
essential things (Carey 1989). In this case, the community has to ensure that communication skills
are compatible. When methods of communication change, when they are even in a period of
transition, the danger is that a part of the people is dropped out of the communication in their own
community. For example, in a group of youth, more and more people get information on an event
by in the social media. Someone who does not have the possibility to receive these messages can
easily be left outside, unless she or he is very popular for some other reason.
Communication camps have not deliberately been made for research purposes, but they have
originally been a test, inspired by scenarios (Malaska, Viherä et al. 1982), about how we learn the
use of new communication technology and how we use it. The possibilities of an interaction society,
once presented as a future utopia. Does redefinition of needs create a new type of community?
The first Communication camp was held in summer 1987 and since then the content offered in the
camps has grown steadily. The technology used in the camps has evolved with time, but its value
for the camp participants has proven to be instrumental. The camps have become places of
intellectual growth where social capital accumulates in an atmosphere of trust, life. Technology has
adapted to this form of life, although the newest technologies have been tested, but not self-
Summer camps are the actual Communication camp context, and they are the ground also for new
experiments. The model can be applied to school work, but this requires a number of changes in the
curriculum. My wish is to have activity in schools according to the Communication camp model
where all pupils would have a week’s camp every year. The schools would gain their own daily
paper, video, radio, kiosk and their own interactive web pages. Besides communication, the pupils
would learn about business life. In case the camp could not be organised in the school premises,
communication clubs could work in the same spirit (Härkönen 1994).
Besides mass media – the newspaper, video and radio – targeted communication has always had a
special role in the camps. Tests have been made on mobile phones, radio telephones, voicemail,
virtual faxes, and a phone in every tent. In order to involve targeted communication in such a way
that it facilitates daily life, daily tasks must be done by the camp participants, and they must also get
used to the services of the local grocery store and small bakery in order to learn small-scale logistics.
Targeted communication has also been used for social relations. At the first camp in 1987 for
example, network chat was used (with neighbouring rooms and a few outsiders on the videotex
discussion channel), long before social media became popular. This was future making as well.
Modes of action of the Communication camps
In the beginning, camp participants are divided into five groups. Everyone takes part in and gets
familiar with all of the five activities during the camp.
Each group has two or three instructors who move along with the group from one task to another.
The instructors are called “kultsi” (darling). Darlings have taken part in at least three camps. They
are young people with an open, inspiring and caring attitude. Adults who have several camps
behind them are, regardless their sex, called “Vanha Rouva” (Old Lady).
The camps have only one written rule: people under 18 years old are not allowed to drink alcohol,
and those over 18 will only consume beer and wine with meals only. The rhythm of the action is
defined by the goal of accomplishing.
Camps have their own restaurant, their own money, a kiosk, and a scoring system for invisible work.
These are used for learning to perceive structures, learning about entrepreneurship and appreciation
towards every kind of work. In the following, I shall explain the different activities in the camps, as
well as the technology or access needed.
Activity 1: Tietotuutti is published every morning
The camp newspaper called Tietotuutti is published daily and the delivery takes place in the early
morning hours. The paper has an address sticker and it is delivered in every tent. It is read in the
tent and in the coffee table in the morning. The paper has a great importance in the formation of
interaction. As it really is published every morning, the themes in each paper can be continued in
the next issue. Things are deepened in interaction. The fact alone that the name of the paper has
remained the same all these years is a proof of the importance of continuity.
A sufficient amount of computers is available for making the paper. All can write their own stories
or add a photograph to the paper. There are different sections in the paper, intended for attracting
the writers. Examples of these are the opinion column, the editorial, gossip page, a greetings section,
practical advice, “Ursula answers”, interviews, serial, horoscope and news. The gossip page has had
a special importance. The gossip is good-tempered – although sometimes intimate (who is
interested in whom) – and is guaranteed to attract readers. Everyone gets an experience on what it is
like to be in publicity. These stories hold the community together and make everyone part of the
There is no censorship or gatekeeper in the paper to black out anyone’s story. The writers may
discretely be guided with a discussion on the best ways to make a message understood. If a story
exceeds the tolerance of the reader, he or she may reply with a better story. The background idea for
the camps is the Greek tradition of humanism: an ideal person is a social and thereby political
creature. The person’s own nature determines him or her to serve the community (von Wright 1954).
For many, the process of making the paper starts with bringing the news for the paper from around
the world. Once they have succeeded in this, the next story can already comment the news. While
they choose the news to be brought from the internet to the paper, they learn to get an organised
picture of the multitude of news. The paper’s layout design was first made manually and later on
with a layout software. There are four or five computers reserved for page layout and everybody
gets a chance to layout their own story. A youngster with experience from several camps usually
gives the finishing touches to the pages.
Making the paper itself is a great experience; it involves everyone and brings feelings of success.
Delivering the paper in the tents at night is an exciting and anticipated experience. At the same time,
people become familiar with the entire process of making a paper and learn to appreciate every
phase of the work. The position of the paper has not changed during the decades. It is still an
important medium of communication for the camp participants, not threatened by social media.
Examining the future in the light of these experiences, one could say that there should be a demand
at least for local papers as they publish news from the world with a familiar perspective. The need
for self-organisation and understanding is a guarantee of this.
Activity 2: Radio Viekas has a long range
The camp radio broadcasts daily from 10 PM till the early morning hours. It has a range of about
10km, and so the camp has a window open to the neighbourhood. The programmes are made by
camp participants for each other and they can also be listened to on the internet. The internet radio
is popular among former campers. Since 2016, the radio only works via the Internet and
loudspeakers. This has been enabled by the development of software and receivers.
Also the radio can be used on two levels: campers take turns as reporters, audio control engineers
for example in the studio, or they can answer calls from listeners. Everyone has a possibility to call
the radio station; there are lots of interactive programmes. There are lots of telephones as well for
calling the radio easily. Interactivity is possible also because the programmes are mostly live
broadcasts. Interactive radio is perhaps the most collective media in the camp.
Activity 3: 10 pm: viewing videos together
Videos made in the camp are viewed together at 10 pm. Video programmes imitate real TV
broadcasts. Inserts are made during the day, and the programme itself comes live from the next
room to a full audience in the hall. The atmosphere is concentrated, even fervent.
At its best, video making is the most creative activity in the camps. It has been used in making
exciting serial and adventure stories. Erkki (11 years) waited all winter for the camp; he had seen
during the previous summer how others had made an adventure story. Now he wanted to play the
role of the victim in the story and be filmed with blood all over him – ketchup, that is. Video gives
good experiences for the makers, and the best videos are discussed for a long time. Multimedia has
not been as popular as a video programme based on a story.
Video is an important media. A statement made on video is remembered. When camp leaders made
a mistake and gave the wrong date for the ending of the camp – one day later than the actual date –
the message about the mistake and what had to be done about it was best communicated on a live
broadcast in the evening news. Nobody missed that information. Other means of communication
might have been a lot more inefficient.
Some years ago, a small accident happened during the camp. It was not known at first how serious
it was. Although we had all the communication devices in use, the young people wanted to have a
discussion about the accident, sitting on the floor. Communication began only when it was known
that the accident was not really serious and the patient was fine. People went to the hospital and sent
messages with pictures, which were then put into the evening TV programme. There were also
radio interviews and a story in the paper. All the possibilities of communication were realised.
Activity 4: A gamut of options in the restaurants
The restaurants in the camps are an example of the social inventions of Communication camps. The
camps have no canteens or fixed times for meals, but restaurants instead with several options and
menus that are planned with the customers’ interest in mind. In the early days, parents were often
surprised: are you cooking for yourselves? – I did not send my child to learn cooking... Today the
camps’ own restaurants are self-evident, because of the taste of food, preparation, and the price as
well. In this matter as well, the camps have been active in creating future society.
“Food is a window to society, the globalising world, production, economy, the environment, one’s
own culture and the culture of other countries, health and nutrition”, said Helmi Risku-Norja,
researcher of the Finnish Academy of Science SEED project. “Including nutrition education as an
essential part of sustainability education, school catering becomes a solid part of education contents
and goals”, said Eila Jeronen from the University of Oulu.
The same thing has been empirically observed and noted by many researchers, which we in
Communication camps have intuitively and empirically done for 25 years now.
Restaurants in Communication camps are run by the campers themselves. Orders from the shop
were in the past made by fax and email, but now we have to collect the ingredients ourselves,
because large chains of stores have become very bureaucratic. In transports, we use logistics-related
communication: text queries in the beginning and now text messages and mobile phones. The food
group uses guided creative communication and integrating communication. First we make plans in
a creative manner, and then take care of the tasks using efficient communication. The principle is
“Take along as you come, bring along as you go”. Menus are planned with methods of creative
problem-solving: first suggestions and ideas, then evaluation, taking into account the taste,
healthiness, easiness, availability etc. of food. By this method we make sure that everyone is
committed to the menu, and all are involved in planning and making the food (Viherä 2012).
Camp kitchens at schools are small home kitchens, domestic science classrooms or school kitchens.
To our disappointment, many school kitchens have turned into delivery kitchens where only a few
kitchenwares are available for cooking. Meals are usually eaten under canopies outside. Outdoor
paella pans are popular, also under a shelter in rainy weather.
The restaurant serves at least two courses, often more. Practise has shown that smaller amounts are
easier to make, and adding spices is more convenient. Everyone finds a favourite food from a
variety of options (the rule of thumb is: 1/3 healthy food, 1/3 junk food, 1/3 gourmet food). In this
way, there are not many leftovers. A slogan has been adopted in the camps: wasted food is the most
expensive food. This happened long before it was common knowledge. Each restaurant takes it as a
matter of honour to make such an amount of food that there is plenty for everyone but no leftovers.
Campers can of course have snacks anytime. Baking at night is a popular activity that especially
boys like. The division of food production now and in the future can also be observed through this
model: 1/3 healthy food – emphasis on the health effects – 1/3 junk food – fast food chains, cheap
ingredients, the importance of price in decision-making (school) – 1/3 gourmet food: delicacy stores,
good restaurants, the best ingredients. The one who is able to combine these three makes the best
results, as we can see in the case of organic food and high quality production.
Bread orders are made at night to the local baker. Communication camps rely on nearby food
production and delivery with the principles of sustainable development. If the activity was constant,
the short transport distances would save energy and the local production structure would stay intact
(Rajala 1997). In this regard too, the last few years have been difficult; it is becoming hard to find
small, adaptable bakeries near the camp site.
There is not a single day when something has been forgotten from the list of orders. When campers
leave the camp to take pictures or an interview, or goes to the shop, they take a mobile phone along
and tell the info desk where they went and which phone they are carrying. The kitchen quite
certainly notices that something is missing. A phone call, and the one on the road brings what is
missing. The info is the secretary on call of the camp and network secretary.
Working in the food group with others is also a good experience. Deciding together what to do, not
seeking the easiest solution, but figuring out what others want to eat is also a good way to increase
togetherness. Camp participants have often told this is the only place where they can make
decisions on what to cook. Even in domestic science at school, only a few options are given.
Activity 5: The camp’s heart and blood circulation – info desk and camp money
The info desk is particularly challenging. It is used for many supplementary needs in the camp, for
bookkeeping on camp money and points given for invisible work, for arranging transport service,
finding a camp member when parents come for a visit. It serves as a kiosk, a delivery point of
papers for outsiders, and it is used for uploading pictures on web pages. Camp experiences show
that organising is the most demanding type of work. The info desk is supposed to “hold all the
strings” and make things work smoothly.
Another social innovation that helps in organising the camp is camp money or Lecu. Using Lecus,
invisible work has for years been made visible. Camp money was invented for practical reasons. In
the early years, prizes were competed for during the final cleaning. The one who collected the
biggest amount of litter got the best prize. In summer 1990 already, toilet cleaners were rewarded
instead of sports competition winners, the fastest runners. In spring 1992, ideas were gathered
together with the campers about how places could be kept in order without “nagging”. Good
experiences were remembered and a scoring method for work was chosen among ideas pondered on
together, as well as badges given for earned points. The badges came as gifts from different
companies. One more of the bubbling ideas fit well the spirit of Communication camps: a briefing
is held on the scoring and all the camp media are invited daily. Scoring has been used since then
and badges are given for a certain amount of points. A system of noting was developed: people
mark their own points on a Filemaker file on computer.
The solutions made at the camp clearly show that solving an annoying problem can create a new
permanent practice. The camp money innovation has been a success beyond expectations. Lecus
have been used in learning the rules of economy, the finesses of finance politics, and the way
finances can be used to influence a community. Of the latter, water supply is again an example: the
sewerage tank of the camp was full and a disaster was close. Using voice mail voting we asked the
opinion of the campers: A) should we use the toilets as before – 1 Lecu and hope for the best, B)
remove the fee and prepare for the worst, or C) raise the fee up to 2 Lecu. The voting result was A)
30% B) 17% and C) 52%. It was easy to raise the fee. The importance of open decision-making was
a constructive factor in this solution again. In summer 2011, the camp ran out of water. The
problem appeared to be the well that could not pump enough water. Very quickly the rule was
learned by all: when a text message said the pump was going to be shut down, everyone could keep
from using water, until the following message arrived: the pump is working again! There were no
protests about the practice, since the reason for the water shortage was commonly known; it had
been explained in the evening news and the morning paper. Just banning the use of water without
giving a reason, I do not think we would have succeeded.
Before printing Lecus, young men were wondering how to prevent forgery. Stamping the Lecus
was the solution. In fact, no one ever tried to print false Lecus, but there were many discussions
about it. The use of Lecus was taken as seriously as the use of Finnish Marks. Towards the end of
the first camp, lecunaires came into the picture, those who had Lecus beyond their own needs, and
there was a black market as well. This was also a lesson on the change of the value of Lecu. With
Lecu, the campers had already gotten used to the Euro before it was introduced!
The way I see it, villages and other communities, such as communal habitations, could use the
model of the Lecu experiment and design their own village ecus or local ecus, Lecus. This could be
the first step towards interaction and interactive growth. There are examples of testing local
currencies around the world, but the idea may not have been applied to such ”ordinary” things as it
has been in the camps. Lecu-based activity was a success in one camp for a village community. It
motivated mothers in making crepes, young boys in cleaning, men in taking care of heating etc.
Local money expands the principle of reciprocity to a wider community. It serves the growth of
social income (Volkman 2011).
Life management with Chaos Day
One of the social innovations of Communication camps is ”Chaos Day”. It was initiated by Heikki
Malaska (Pentti’s son) during the Hankasalmi camp in 1994: ”It would be nice to see if we could
add to all this self-advocacy and joy of making the option for everyone to choose their group when
the day starts!” These words remained in the air, and after a few years, perhaps in the summer of
1998, the idea of Chaos Day was implemented. The rhythm of the camp was then changed so that
there was one extra day to use, and it was agreed that the last day would be Chaos Day. Everyone
chooses a task freely on that day.
Chaos Day has proven to be a good invention. People can express themselves on the last day
choosing the task they like the most. During the week, someone may have had the idea “I wish I
had written about this or that, made a video on this topic, cooked something else etc.” Chaos Day
has come to stay.
Chaos Day teaches all the campers community spirit and control over situations: these are talents
that have been mentioned also as important skills in future management. (Kirves 2002)
Principles of Communication camp activity
In the information society, it is important to consider also the position of children; how are children
raised as subjects and active actors in an information society where they too are constantly
bombarded with information streams?
To answer this question, it is not enough to learn the use of technology, to have an user-friendly
interface or good virtual study material. If learning technology user skills is separated from the
actual situation and need, technology becomes the purpose itself, the master, instead of a servant
that helps in something more important.
The use of technology is a natural part of Communication camp activity. Technology is the object
of play, a toy. The use of it is a happy thing. What is said, how people act, and how others are taken
care of are more important things than technology. Communication has a major role in all these
Communication cannot be learned in books only, through knowledge on the communication devices
available. Learning takes place in live situations, when things are taken care of and organised, that
is through experience. Communication camps are examples of situations in which one can learn
communication in interactive situations and through action. In talks about communication and
evaluating communication skills, the skills of getting to work and using technology in daily
business are often left unmentioned. All of these are learned in the Communication camp context
without paying special attention. The use of communication devices in the Communication camps
is part of the process towards interaction society.
In the adaptable environment the camp participants themselves shape their environment and make it
meaningful by their actions, their habits and their active communication. When a camper perceives
– even unconsciously – the effect of his or her messages, new things and meanings are learned.
Active participation of parents creates models as well. Decision-making, practices and attitudes
towards other people have a greater influence than for example lectures or presentations (Lonka
1999). A lecture on the subject “How to communicate” is a waste of time, Lonka says. The listener
finds it hard to find motivation in an abstract topic, and communication is not only a technical skill;
it has to be put into practice. Practices are what the Communication camps are formed of.
Since the camps have more democratic and unprompted practices than elsewhere in the
surroundings, camp participants also learn to observe things in a new way and question existing
practices. They learn to compare the environment with a vision of the future, based on a future
interest of knowledge. Knowledge and know-how are shared by all to others during the camps, for
the productions would never be accomplished without collaboration. Nobody can make it only
working alone, but everyone has a possibility to act independently.
Camps are places of growth towards independence, communality and management of one's own life.
Good camp spirit is based on openness and mutual trust between the campers. Trust and openness
emerge from an atmosphere of appreciation. Others are not criticised in the camps, they are
appreciated ever more. Even in the camp's media, criticism has an appreciating tone. Power and
structures are openly displayed in Communication camps (“Old Ladies”, grown-ups, resources,
Darlings, campers, first-timers), but the titles only take some of the power away. With the social
invention of earning badges and camp money by activities such as cleaning, a new power structure
is created; the best cleaners are rewarded with badges and applauses. In the camps, all talks are
contributions to a common debate. The Communication camp has formed a theory: access, know-
how, motivation, and the basic existential skills, self-organisation, belonging and doing. In this
manner, a small-scale reform in activity and structures has resulted to a strong theory. (Nurmela,
The main principles are based on sociability and togetherness. They can be presented as follows:
learning by doing
taking care of others
taking and showing responsibility
everyone is a teacher and a student in relation to others
independence in collaboration
perceiving and understanding the overall process
appreciation towards the work of others
With these principles, people in the information society grow to be subjects who manage their own
lives and cooperate with others. There is a progression in the camps from self to world community
(belonging), from concrete to abstract (self-organisation), and from a close distance to a long
The Communication camp meeting the basic human needs in the interaction society
The founding idea of Communication camps is to meet the basic human existential needs: doing,
connecting and self-organisation. In the following, I will examine the way in which the basic needs
have been taken into account in the camps. Does the camp meet the expectations in this regard?
Although doing is play in the camps, it is also goal-oriented doing. During the activity, the idea of
accomplishing is always in the mind, especially so in the case of products people are familiar with.
Everyone has an image of a paper, the camp paper in particular. Likewise, making video
programmes, earlier attempts are in the memory, earlier programmes, and TV programmes in
particular. Interviews follow a well-known pattern. Making something new and different starts by
getting experience first.
People connect through emotion. The camp offers many possibilities for connecting. Basic-level
connecting is based on the fact that all are accepted as they are which creates a feeling of belonging
in the group. Campers change from one point to another, switching tasks daily. In this way,
everyone belongs to the whole camp and not only his or her own group. The group also includes an
instructor of young children or an adult sponsor whose duty is to see that no one is left outside.
One of the basic existential needs is self-organisation through a process of thought. The camps have
in many ways provided motivation through self-organisation. When “mass communication” has
been produced independently, it has been understood better. Rotating from one group to another
provides an overall understanding of things. By creating a “concrete utopia of the information
society”, the campers get a grip of the future. Using different communication services they
understand their significance. A step towards network literacy is taken; technology becomes an
instrument, not an end in itself. Camp money and invisible work are ways to learn to understand
operating mechanisms and the value of work
The importance of a community's own communication has been proved in the Communication
camps. Communication creates the community and its own receiving audience motivates
communication. Camp media contains well-known stories of familiar people (gossip, opinions,
events, camp news, interviews etc.), which gives it a label as the camp's own media.
Communication with one's own audience is continued, which creates a chain of communication.
The Communication camp proves that an interaction society is possible, at least momentarily, in
small communities. Yet, there is no reason to assume the interaction society would not be possible
on a broader scale. It preconceives a redefinition of human needs, for instance in economic and
political decision-making. It is not enough that fulfilling basic existential needs is only possible for
some part of humanity. In a democratic society everybody must have a possibility to this.
Communication camps among for example mentally impaired, blind, deaf and elderly people have
indicated that the model works for all people.
Communication camps give a spark to seize and develop small new and traditional media. It is
worth noting that local communication offers a lot to do and a lot of content to communities
(housing organisations, NGOs, associations, hobby groups, quarters, villages etc.). As
communication is facilitated, it also refreshes interaction in an existing community and thus keeps
the community alive. Without a balanced communication structure, in relation to time and space, a
nation's existence may be threatened. Such a structure is a blessing for the whole community. (Varis
1995) Communication technology does not necessarily require large investments.
In Communication camps one can, through a positive feedback to basic existential needs, feel joy
and find enjoyment in activity, have an experience of growing towards citizenship of information
society. The idea of the Communication camp in society and as a developer of social and digital
capital (independently produced content) is explained in figure 3.
The paradigm of learning the Communication camp model and the collaboration process can be
traced back to constructivism. The paradigm in the camps has not been a conscious choice but a
practice based on intuition. Constructivism is not a new doctrine; it is based on the basic theories
on learning in our history of ideas. The essential view in constructivism is that both learning and
teaching are active human processes, phases in the same process. The starting point is the learner's
own activity and motivation. A camper is excited about his doings and has a high motivation.
Active action has to start from personal interest. We learn as we do. It is essential to combine one's
acquired know-how and understanding with observations in the camp, whether it is about emotion,
cognition or skill (Jäntti, Suonperä, 1999.)
Communication camps are not only dealing with learning, but with the overall process of
collaboration where all are teachers to each other – according to the Greek concept paideia. Any
work today requires comprehension and consciousness of one's own expectations and conceptions.
This has been attempted to achieve in the camps, fading the hierarchical concept teacher/student to
the background. The reason for doing so is simply that faced with the new customs and devices of
the information society, we were all students in the early times, and the practice adopted then has
prevailed. A future studies perspective, future making, has allowed us to work intuitively according
to the idea of constructivism since 1987.
Cooperation and interaction contribute to the social capital of camp participants: common goals,
norms, values and trust. Along with their products, their digital capital grows as well – papers,
videos, pictures, radio broadcasts, member databases, the discussion group, travel accounts, all
saved in a network – allowing the accumulation of common understanding through interaction.
I see and I feel that the Communication camps are steps towards a future where all people have the
right to express themselves also with communication devices, where a local community grows to
become an international actor for the good a common, sustainable world.
Figure 3. The communication camp heading towards interaction society
FUTHER DEVELOPMENT: FUTURE-LABORATORY MOTIVATING FUTURES THINKING
The Future-laboratory, a kind of miniature camp, is a model for motivating futures thinking,
developed on the basis of experiences from Communication camps, and of course future studies.
The laboratory event begins with a brief lecture on futures thinking and the methods of future
studies, especially the futures matrix method (Seppälä 2017)
It is very interesting to create different scenarios for different areas with the laboratory participants,
and to get familiar with their different ways of thinking. Searching for the desired, non-desired, and
probable scenarios in the matrix is always fascinating.
Since food is the yeast of communality that raises the community spirit, it is prepared also at a
Future-laboratory event. But here we think about what would be eaten in the future, according to
each scenario. When there are a lot of participants, we form groups and prepare all of these foods.
With a smaller group of participants we figure out together what to make and which scenario the
food in question represents.
During a common meal we reflect on the kind of everyday life each scenario facilitates, we draw
role straws to see our roles (character, profession, distinctive features) and divide into groups
according to each scenario.
Each group makes a drama on daily life in the scenario, from the point of view of the given role
figure. The dramas are presented either as written stories or as an audio or video play.
In the ending discussion we exchange views on how the dramas, everyday life that is, differ from
each other, and what has been learned. Without involving everyday life, the whole futures thinking
would be standing on nothing. Now we are forced to really think about it.
The lot-drawn role characters have a great importance. According to my experience, we would
maintain to our usual stereotypes without them. The role characters are a way of externalising
everyday life as well.
Possible uses of Future laboratory
This method is especially suitable for developers of future services, technical and other.
Many new ways of using technology on the one hand (desired future), and on the other hand,
what possible negative effects the use of it might have (non-desired and probable scenarios).
It is really important to examine the use of technology also from the perspective of the
desired future way of life! This is one option in starting to de-construct the problem that is
based on different ways of presenting problems by technology developers, public
administration and the civil society. (Viukari 2010.
Future-laboratory is a cognitively, socially and economically effective way of starting
studies. It deepens the students' futures thinking and thus expands comprehension on one's
own goals and possibilities. Future-laboratory also helps the student in group-formation with
Future-laboratory is a quick, efficient and cost-efficient model for planning the future of
communes. The model gives a tool for creating a common basis of ideas for communal
elected persons and functionaries.
Future-laboratory raises a spirit of cooperation, genuine interaction between the participants,
because talkoot events are not consultations or PowerPoint presentations. There is no supervision
by outsiders either in the events since pilots are there as ordinary participants.
What is the desired future from the point of view of Communication camps? In the summer 2011
Communication camp there were first-timers of all ages, experienced campers, visitors, those who
stayed for a longer time and those who were there the whole time. All went well, the older guiding
the younger and vice versa. Visitors were a supplement to the camp's strength while others were for
example taking an exam.
Lauri, a high school student, said: “The Communication camp is a fine place in the sense that one
can come here for a shorter period of time, one can discuss here with older people and play with
children. It is not like this anywhere else.”
Could this be a possible desired future way of life? If it is, it requires also the adaptation of
information technology services to people's desired way of life in order to change social structures.
It requires giving up on the idea of age class in education, and the removal of various administrative
and geographical boundaries.
Communication camps help us clarify our ideas on future hopes. Once this is done, we find
solutions for today's actions from the perspective of knowing the future – the perspective of desired
future. This is our way of giving a chance to the desired future way of life
Figure 4: Futures thinking as a guide to desired future
Memory is aimed at the past, comprehension to the present, and care is aimed at the future, said
Mikael Wexionius, Professor of philosophy, in 1640. We cannot change the past, but the future is
open before us, full of optional possibilities some of which will come true. At the founding
ceremony of the Academy, Wexionius set a goal: side by side with industriousness and modesty,
such cultural achievements will emerge that in the future, no nation shall have more merits than the
Finnish. (Niiniluoto, 2001). Has Wexionius's wish come true? Almost, if not completely. This has
demanded understanding and conscious goal-orientation in striving for good life from our
Ritva-Sini Merilampi (2012), Counsellor of Education emerita, M.Sc. (education), has made an
evaluation of Communication camp from a pedagogic perspective. In her final report she states that
the goal of Communication Camp is not to train media professionals, but to foster general media-
related education in the civil society – media literacy! This is also true in the context of
“Education is a more demanding task than teaching”, Merilampi says. Education is creative and
unpredictable, and it belongs to all active citizens. Relying solely on science and technology in
society makes it a factory-like society, even though this is efficient and economical. Education is
needed to create a spiritually rich human culture.
“The basis of our culture has always been a majority conscious of its past”, says Merilampi in the
spirit of Wexionius. Dialogue is possible when people have shared knowledge. Good media literacy
teaches us to be open-minded, tolerant, and gives us the ability to cope with uncertainty.
The Comminication camp project is in the centre of media literacy. It attempts to take into account
all three branches of the human ability of culture creation: science, art and philosophy. This reveals
the conception of man in the background of the project: a knowing, feeling individual, equipped
with a will (Merilampi 2012), an individual that cooperates with others; individuals take care of
each other, teach each other and build a common future.
As we now take as our goal a media-literate, industrious and modest people, the future shows us all
a hopeful, balanced and positive face. Communication camps and Future-laboratory, as methods of
future making, help us reach this goal. Media literacy is care for the future.
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