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Permanent readers of our site remember an unusual charity auction “We are all from the Childhood” that took place on the 1st of June, 2011. Thanks to the response of well-known Ukrainians, different lots submitted for the auction and activity of the sponsors who came to the event, more than 10 thousand hryvnyas (1, 246 US dollars) were collected for the organization of tent camps - expeditions for rural children.
And then came the long awaited moment when the first such camp was organized!
Starting from July the 8th through July the 12th, 2011, around 30 children from large and low-income families from Kupriyanovka village council of the Volnyansk district spent several unforgettable, warm and beautiful days participating in a mobile tent camp called “Adventurers”
We as organizers were afraid that the children would be bored and would not find anything interesting to get them busy with. That is why we prepared a very extensive program for the expedition.
Fortunately, the children didn’t have time to get bored. On the first day, after having set the camp in a picturesque place on a bank of a small creek near Bekerovo village, the children went to a real training ground for training Special Forces (“Cheetah” group).
We spent first three days of our expedition in a strikingly beautiful place not far from Bekerovka village
The participating teenagers tried to shoot a real Kalashnikov rifle for the first time in their lives; and the adults, also for the first time in their lives – a sniper’s rifle! After the shooting and the check of its results, the instructor told the children about the types of modern weapons adopted by Ukrainian internal military troops. Certainly, this information was interesting for teenagers, especially for boys; however, the parting words of the instructor were the most important ones, to our minds: “Let’s hope that none of us will ever have to use these arms in practice against people!” But the military men didn’t limit themselves to the excursion; in the end they treated the entire camp to a tasty “kulesh” and tea with cookies.
Teenagers shot a real Kalashnikov’s rifle for the first time in their lives. Let’s hope it was their last time as well!
Captain of the internal military troops shows the children adopted automatic weapons
The closing words of the instructor we found the most important ones: “Let’s hope that none of us will ever have to use these arms in practice against people!”
Later in the evening, there was a workshop for making “oberegs” (protecting talismans) conducted for the children by Anya, one of the volunteers. It was followed by a rest around a campfire, accommodation in the tents and sound sleep.
Anya, one of the volunteers, conducting a workshop for making oberegs
The youngest camp participants were only 6-8 years old but they were as active as the older children
The girls kept pleasing us with fresh vegetable salads
The following day’s program was as rich. Anton Bondarenko, a traveller from Zaporozhye who had ridden his bike all around Ukraine and visited a lot of interesting places, took part in the camp activities.
Anton conducted a workshop for orienteering, after which the children divided into 4 teams and in turns followed the chosen route with specified key points. Later there was a contest for kindling camp-fires. The children were asked to make a fire and to boil water in the pot within the shortest possible time. The winning team managed to complete the task in 16 minutes; the worst result came to 24 minutes. It appeared that mother wit and logical thought were needed even when making a fire!
Participants of the orienteering game together with Anton Bondarenko
Besides forcing themselves to move forward the children had to carry the wounded
In the camp, we used some of the 'scouts’ games and techniques. The boys were ecstatic about the game of frontier guards and smugglers. What can be more interesting for boys then stealing through a forest, a swamp and rush, outwitting the frontier guards and reaching the specified point? Let’s confess that not only the children but their leaders as well became enthusiastic about such a reality show! Clothes soiled in mud and legs red from stinging nettle were not able to spoil the pleasure from the game.
A lot of attention in the camp was paid to the physical training. Each morning we started from intensive exercise program. The children played Rugby, “a tail”, soccer, volleyball and other active games. In the evening of the second day our camp was visited by a Karate master who led full value training in this kind of martial art.
We’d like to note the participants from the partner volunteer group “A spark of kindness” who played a lot of interesting games with the children and organized a workshop for making gift angels.
During the third day our camp continued to welcome guests. First we received two US volunteers – Alex and Russel, so some of the children had a possibility to communicate and even to take photographs with “real Americans”.
In the afternoon, a music rush started in the camp caused by the visit of Ivan, the guitarist of N Day band and drummers Dima and Zhenya. The musicians didn’t only play; they brought several tom-toms and drumsticks for the children. Those children who didn’t manage to get professional instruments were given empty plastic buckets. In addition to this, two mouth organs were discovered!
As a result, besides the original N Day songs the musicians played popular songs of other groups and the children tried to do their best to accompany them. Certainly, that evening when sitting among friends under branchy trees a lot of children had wishes to start seriously practicing music because it was so interesting and didn’t look a bit similar to boring music lessons at school.
The improvised concert lasted for nearly 4 hours. Even long after the musicians had gone out of their repertoire, the children with their leaders continued to play and sing. Some were even dancing around the bonfire. In the end all the participants sang the song “Don’t worry! Be happy” together and had supper at the bonfire.
For the two following days the group moved from the Volnyansk district to the Khortitsa Island. The children had a possibility to join excursions around the historical and cultural complex “Zaporozhye Sich”; memorial and tourist complexes “Scythian Camp” and “Protovche” or “Plavni” (floodlands overgrown by rush and other plants); the Museum of the Zaporozhye Cossacks History. They also became spectators of an exciting performance of the brave Cossacks from the Horsemen Theater organized on the legendary Khortitsa Island. The children in the camp got special “chips” for good behavior and later they were able to exchange them for souvenirs. Such organized spare time of children is definitely of an integrated kind because the camp with all the games, songs and contests included cultural and educational program, which in fact is of a significant importance for the development of the children’s moral, ethic and esthetic values.
The staff of the “Happy Child” Foundation expresses special thanks for the support to the following persons:
Vladimir Alexandrovich Grona, chairman of Kupriyanovka village council;
Svetlana Vladimirovna Pustovit, teacher and educator of the Kupriyanovka School;
Maxim Anatolyevych Ostapenko, general manager of the National Reserve “Khortitsa”;
Sergey Valeryevych Dudarenko, commercial director of the National Reserve “Khortitsa”;
Yekateryna Evgenyevna Andrusenko, Dmitry Vladimirovych Logachyov, Svetlana Petrovna Moiseenko, tour guides of the National Reserve “Khortitsa”;
Irina Nikolaevna Stryuk, director of the Horsemen Theater;
Alyona Nikolayevna Shchikovskaya, commercial director of the Horsemen Theater;
Alexander Petrovych Yerokhin, chief accountant of the Horsemen Theater and Alexander Fedorovych Matesha;
Volunteer group “A spark of kindness” ;
Vladimir Kiyanenko for the training in rock climbing;
A special forces group “Cheetah”;
Ilia, eastern combat skill trainer;
Michael, Anton, Vladimir and his wife Tatyana, camp leaders;
NDay band musicians (Vanya, Zhenya) and Dima Buryak – for supply of “Aqualon” drinking water for the camp.
These people together with many others didn’t stay indifferent and responded to our requests for help. We are grateful to everyone who presented their time and priceless help to children!
Our leaders liked the musical workshop so much that they started to dance around the bonfire
To support the tourist program for children from large and low-income families and orphans you can make a donation or supply food necessary for camping trips (conserves, bottled water, ground cereals and rice etc.) You can also participate in the tourist program as a volunteer.
Rock climbing workshop was of great interest to children
In the end all the children had a possibility to use the "chips" they got for victories in the contests and for help in the camp household keeping. The children exchanged chips for souvenirs and valuable prizes
When the camping trip was over, each child a got plastic certificate and a common photograph as a souvenir