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On June 14-17, 2013 nineteen graduates of the Zaporozhye center - boarding school had a great and fascinating time backpacking in the Crimea, which was arranged by the "Happy Child" Foundation within the "Klubok" project.
A good hike is similar to a good action movie - the trip participants face all kind of different challenges, which they have to overcome.
At the same time the relationship of the main characters develop. Such films usually end up very positively.
Everything was like in the movies in our walking tour. On the very first day adventures were not long in coming. At the beginning we went through a quarry (we started the trip at Inkerman near Sevastopol), where Special Police Force conducted excises. About 30 people in camouflage were shooting machine guns and simulated the free of hostages. And there were absolutely no guards near the quarry. Under the roar of gunfire we quickly walked past the place of exercise.
Before the shots abated, it thundered. At first, we found severe thunderstorm and rain amusing, but further hail was not fun anymore. Everyone got drenched to the skin; fortunately, we managed to cover our backpacks with canvas. The nature was raging, and in order to warm and dress the children we urgently had to put up tents under the heavy rain in an inconvenient area.
Thankfully, a few hours later the rain eased and we continued our way in wet shoes through the mud. We spent the night at tourists’ parking called "The Third Cordon". It was a nice glade with a weak but pure spring nearby. All evening we were playing active games and then talking till late at night sitting around the campfire. Everybody’s spirit rebounded.
The next day started with rain again. Having somehow made breakfast, we moved towards the 2nd cordon, intending to reach Eski-Kerman by the end of the day. The first half of the day it was drizzling and sometimes the sun broke through. But we already got used to the rain and mud, and the weather could not spoil our mood. When we reached the 2nd cordon and talked to the woman forester, we decided not to go to Eski-Kerman but to walk towards the 5th gully instead. It was pretty far away, but we would have to walk less the next day. Having rambled a little along the deforested paths, we finally came to the edge of precipice – the Kara-Koba rocks. From here we could see Sevastopol, mountains rocks around Balaklava, ships, as if they were hanging in the air. And below us there was the village of Ternovka, which we were supposed to attend the next day. By six o'clock we had finally reached “The Fifth Gully” encampment, having walked about 20 km on that day.
After our long journey in the mud “The Fifth Gully” was like the Promised Land to us. Here we found a specially equipped parking with wooden tables and shelters from the rain and a good spring and two small lakes with cold water. The place was very cozy and nice. We gorged on, dried our stuff, and the staunchest of the kids stayed up till 1 am talking by the fire.
The next day we slowly went down to Ternovka enjoying the views of the overhanging cliffs above us and the Shuldan Monastery. From Ternovka we took a big public bus to Sevastopol (the 5th kilometer) and from there we went by a shuttle to Balaklava. There again it was raining a bit, but we did not pay any attention to it. Guys caught jellyfish and examined the bottom in the Balaklava Bay, and meantime adults replenished food supplies.
Then by three small boats we went from Balaklava to the Gold Beach ("Aya Cape” nature reserve). For most of the kids it was the first time in their life when they sailed; splash was pretty strong, the boats were rolling and pitching, so we all had a lot of unforgettable impressions. The landing at the Aya Cape was a little extreme. Because of the rough sea, the boat could not fully moor, therefore at first we had to throw all backpacks on pier and then caught the moment and jumped out of the boat on dry land.
That evening rewarded us for all the difficulties of hiking. The Aya Cape is an amazingly beautiful place and the right beach for swimming and snorkeling. It might not be suitable for little children, but teenagers find it very interesting. We swam to the rocks sticking out of the water, dove, shot everything with an underwater camera. Some guys caught crayfish. Later we enjoyed the night views of the cliffs, the Aya and the Fiolent Capes, watched the boats floating in the sea. By the way, there are a lot of dolphins in this area - all the time in the evening and morning they were swimming two hundred meters from the shore.
All in all, everybody had very positive impressions of the trip. On the 4th day, the children became more independent, learned how to put up tents and keep better track of their belongings. Unlike their life in the boarding school, these guys had to attend to their needs by themselves.
I would like to say a special thanks to the team of adults.
Tutors Vladimir Nikolaevich and Gulshan Agommedovna did their best for this trip to be a success. Gulshan was in charge of cooking, and as a result we ate almost like in a restaurant.
An American volunteer Erich helped us to organize the hike by making a donation and convincing his friends from the U.S. to support our trip. Erich has made some good progress in the Russian language. The next year Erich is planning to involve a team of American volunteers to take part in the same kind of hike and provide financial support to the tourist program of the Foundation.
Yuriy, Timothy, Natalia and Olya, the volunteers of the "New Hope" center, actively communicated with the children and gave them all kinds of help. Yuriy played the guitar and discussed important issues with the kids around the fire, invented different active games. In the beginning of the hike Yuriy treated children to "Baikal"soft drink. Probably, that is why the name "Baikal" team stuck to us.
I would also like to thank all those who helped financially to arrange this trip. Thanks to the response of Roman, Erich and other donors, we managed not only to raise funds for this trip, but also to get funding for the next hikes.
We are sure that having come back home all participants of the Baikal team became more independent, enduring as well as wiser and healthier. We all realize that happiness does not mean comfort and material wealth. Happiness is in companionship, creativity, overcoming of obstacles, in close unity with nature.
Everyone can support the tourist program for orphans and children from low-income families.
Let our children be happy!