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VAL DI ZOLDO (BELLUNO) – «Strengthened by my experience as a scout and knowing what it was about from my older sister, I would have liked to have attended it already in sixth grade; but at home they had been adamant; you only go there from the eighth grade. With all this, cI still have wonderful memories of camping in Val di Zoldo. Do you remember that, later, I shared with my children who in turn chose to attend that structure»: one still perceives a trace of emotion in the words of Tatiana Dal Prà, not the only example, however, of rdynastic contribution with the structure of Pralongo di Zoldo. A reality that boasts a long history history and which is preparing to celebrate an important milestone: the first 50 years of life. A story that, in truth, had begun well before 1973.

The 1960s had seen, in Italy, the flourishing of debates and comparisons, protagonists of physical education teachers and enthusiasts, aimed at updating the ministerial programs of 1952, unanimously considered by now too dated and no longer able to intercept the needs of the students. Meetings and debates had had a moment of synthesis at the Lido di Camaiore in 1966 and here the experience of Italo De Cian had emerged. A teacher whose school would train schools of teachers and technicians, De Cian presented his educational camping and hiking activity project that he had started at Malga Ciapela. Project that, recognized as functional, was coded as an official extracurricular activity. Perhaps it was the air of novelty that prompted the project, but the fact remains that in almost every province the superintendents (as the provincial peripheral structures of the Ministry of Public Education were called at the time) started forms of summer camps. Then, as it is easy to understand, there was a selection by virtue of which only the most structured remained in operation. At the beginning of the 1970s, the structure started by De Cian found a solid point of reference in the Zoldo area. Today, 50 years later, that of Pralongo is the only functioning public school experience in Italy.

A structure that in recent years, it has grown to welcome up to 500 students per season (and making a weighted average of the adhesions, the data that comes closest to the truth and of 20,000 total attendance); students who, attracted by the fame of the campsite, they now come from all over the Veneto. «To be honest – they comment to the Comprensivo di Forno di Zoldo, a structure that offers camping as an ‘Training Plan activity’ and together with the personal dell’Agrario di Vellai takes care of the bureaucratic part – registrations open and close in the short span of a few minutes».

In concrete terms, how is this experience structured? On land owned by the municipality there is a masonry construction (teaching rooms, kitchen, warehouse, services); a wooden one that serves as a mess hall; five tent groups (each with storage and dormitory) and the sports area, with volleyball and basketball courts. A complex organizational machine that requires the commitment of at least ten adults and over sixty children to ensure the various activities. From excursions (even a mobile camp for overnight stays at high altitude), to sports (orienteering, archery, volleyball tournaments, table tennis, soccer and table football); from recreational activity (music, singing, theatre) to manual skills (various maintenance) to applied teaching (environment, safety). «However – Valerio Stach records, a long experience with the boys of the campsite – the most important data is represented by the profound sharing of the philosophy that underlies the initiative. Philosophy that I would condense into respect for the rules, all the rules, which make everyday life easier; in the sharing of fatigue, psychological as well as physical; in the constant effort to optimize the functioning of the structure, care and attention of the common spaces, and in practice experimentation that it is possible to live very well even without the compulsive use of the cell phone. Which, in fact, is allowed – and for a short time – only twice a week. As can be easily guessed, Pralongo’s numbers and programs postulate the need to be able to count on more collaborations. In this perspective there are ongoing relationships with the Cai, with the Dolomites Park, the State Police and the forestry Carabinieri as well as with the numerous associations present and with the civic administration. These decades of presence in the Valley have made the camping activity the ideal partner for the growth of the economy. Meanwhile, because the basic necessities (every day there are dozens of students who sit down to the table at noon and in the evening) are purchased locally; and then because the students themselves, at the end of their stay, in fact become promoters of the area, its beauties, its culture. The birthday party includes, on Saturday 2 September, a convivial lunch and an afternoon of music. Needless to say, those who, year after year, have contributed to making this experience great are invited to Pralongo. Reservation required (cell. 329 7384966) by today.

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VAL DI ZOLDO (BELLUNO) – «Strengthened by my experience as a scout and knowing what it was about from my older