Day 1: Opening CATS with a treasure

After a long year of waiting, the second annual edition of CATS has started! Yesterday, Children as Actors for Transforming Society (CATS) launched, in a warm atmosphere full of laughter and smiles.


As CATS is a partnership between three organisations (Initiatives of Change, Child to Child and Universal Education Foundation), the three directors – respectively Jonathan Levy, Tricia Young and Daniel Kropf – began by welcoming the 357 participants.

They echoed the values of CATS throughout their speeches, focusing on how the conference is the continuity of their organisations’ work with children and young people.

Treasure? Let’s hunt!

Details of the week’s programme followed the directors’ speeches, and the day ended after dinner with an exciting treasure hunt.

Over 60 groups ran around Caux Palace for more than an hour, looking for clues which would lead them to the infamous treasure.

Nik, coordinator of the treasure hunt, is explaining the map.

Nik, coordinator of the treasure hunt, is explaining the map.

Or rather, children were speeding from one room to another whilst adults tried to keep up! One French participant, Christian, 11 years old, told me: “It was so funny, how adults were so lost and lagging behind!”

Reconsidering, he added: “But it was great that adults were participating along with the youngsters.”


A child filling up his map of the clues, searching for the treasure.

A child filling up his map of the clues, searching for the treasure.

In his group, they all really enjoyed the treasure hunt. “I loved it when at the end, we were in such a hurry; we were racing to finish the hunt and win and finally get the treasure!” said Bastien, from the same team.

Who wants a bedtime story?

The hunt ended in the Theatre where children found the treasure: a CATS bracelet full of coloured beads, reflecting the different colours chosen to represent each day of the conference.

As the children sat in the theatre, they became more and more excited about the show, as they could tell the CATS team had something up their sleeve. “What is the surprise? Can you tell me?” one young boy, Theo couldn’t stop asking me. His teammate Bastien answered beautifully: “But if she tells us, it won’t be a surprise anymore.”


A few minutes later, they were all sitting in the Main Hall again, headphones covering their ears, listening to a bedtime story about a lion.

Groups of children could be heard saying: “oh does that mean we’re going to bed soon? I’m not tired!” “And it’s only 9.30pm!” not realising what a big day they would have on Sunday. They took some photos, continued to play a little, had a drink and eventually (somewhat reluctantly) went for a good nights sleep after a very exciting day.