Soko Camp (Mitrovački soko) is one of the two winning teams of the 3rd cycle of the RISE support program that entered the incubation phase. This team plans to organize summer camps for 10 – 15 years old youth, in order to divert their attention away from the screens and through socializing, education, physical activities and community service to encourage healthy and proper development, which is extremely important in early adolescence. 

In an interview with members of the Soko Camp team, we talked about their experience on the RISE journey, challenges and future plans. 

Last year in October you applied with your idea for the RISE call, after which you went through the cycle of the idea development, and now the incubation phase begins. During both cycles you have been working intensively with mentors, trainers, and other participants. How important is this whole process and could you single out some key moments in this program that influenced you. 

The RISE journey is the first major project that our association has been involved in. Before RISE, we participated in several different competitions, but without success. We didn’t have any big expectations at the very beginning, and every constructive criticism and suggestion we received during the training was important for the development of our idea. Our idea was not clear at the beginning, we wanted to have a positive influence on children and young people and to bring a positive effect in children’s upbringing. During the sessions, trainings and mentoring process, we got a clearer picture of how our idea should look in practice. Our idea suddenly became tangible and real, which made us even more interested in it. 


What is the main driving factor for you, what motivated you to embark on this venture (starting your idea) and what keeps you motivated every day to continue? 

When our team was selected to join RISE program, it gave us further encouragement and motivation to dedicate ourselves to our idea. The idea came spontaneously and began to develop through the homeworks we were given at trainings and sessions. Various opportunities were opening every day both through the RISE project and at the local level through the support of family and fellow citizens, and this gave us the motivation that still drives us today. Also, our daily work with children and young people helped us to see the need in society and to recognize the importance of the activities and events aimed at the education of today’s children and young people. Our city is not that big, most of us are from Sremska Mitrovica, and talking to our fellow citizens helps us to recognize their needs and our possibilities. 

“Effort always pays off, one way or another. If you leave to someone else to take responsibility, then you lose the possibility that your idea will be understood in the right way”. 

Many young people dream about their ventures, but often never try. In your opinion, was it worth the effort and what are the biggest advantages of that effort? Why is it good to “take matters into your own hands”? 

Effort always pays off, one way or another. Sometimes we encounter difficulties, most often a lack of time and energy to devote to homework, since we launched our idea alongside our full-time jobs. Another mistake that young people often make is to rely on other team members and thus no one takes responsibility. Our advantage may be that our team is small, and from the very beginning we realized that our effort should be at the maximum in order to achieve everything that is required of us. So, the advantage you get when you take responsibility and put in the effort is actually the freedom to express and implement your idea in the context you are in. If you leave to someone else to take responsibility, then you lose the possibility that your idea will be understood in the right way. 

After attending the RISE program, mentoring and financial support, what are your next steps and plans? How do you see SokoKamp in two years? 

 We are currently developing the next steps with the mentoring support in the second phase of the RISE journey. For now, our short-term wishes and plans come down to Soko Camp seeing the light of day this summer and becoming recognized through its work as something that brings a positive impact on our city and children. After this year’s three camps, we will know in more detail our plans and in which direction we’ll go. We do not want to increase the number of children at the camp so as not to jeopardize the quality of the workshops, but the idea is to increase the number of camps and thus provide more dates for parents to choose from. It is important for us to find volunteers or paid people who would participate in some of the workshops that we plan in the future. 

What are your experiences from the Bootcamp, where you had the opportunity to meet other participants from the region who have different ideas, but are united by the same desire to achieve a positive impact? How important are these acquaintances to you? 

The Bootcamp was an excellent opportunity to recharge our batteries with enthusiasm and energy in the company of other Risers and to devote ourselves to all the details and additional ideas we came up with during the Bootcamp. Also, the mentors and consultants at the Bootcamp showed great interest in our idea, which further encouraged us and confirmed that our efforts and commitment make sense. With the help of a mentors, we managed to “sharpen” some of our ideas, see where we are wrong and how we can fix it. Sometimes the mentors were quite critical at the beginning of our conversation, but finally we realized why and how much constructive criticism really helped us. Acquaintances with other Risers helped us to see how many good and socially useful ideas young people have and that only a little encouragement is needed to realize them. Also, getting to know the other teams allowed us to see where and why to go on regional mobility program. All Risers had great projects, but we were especially delighted by the idea of the team from Macedonia (Coffee Mates), whose project is unique and very well developed. 

Participants from Serbia at the RISE Bootcamp in Tirana

RISE – Regional Incubator for Social Entrepreneurs is a support program for young social entrepreneurs implemented by Smart Kolektiv within Serbia. The RISE program takes place simultaneously in six Balkan countries with the aim of enabling motivated and dedicated young people to develop their ideas and make the region a better place.   

The project is supported by the Agence Française de Développement, the European Union; Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), the Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ), PULSE (Groupe SOS), South East European Youth Network (SEEYN), ARNO, Balkan Green Foundation, Nešto Više, Smart Kolektiv, IEC Tehnopolis and Yunus Social Business Balkans.  

More about RISE program >>