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Wet but happy!

August 28, 2023, 15:30 210 Author: Leonid Lobanok deti.zp.ua Two groups of teenagers went on their first real hike.

Мокрі, але щасливі!

After an unwanted hiatus, our expedition program Klubok has been running again. During the summer of 2023, we conducted two hikes in the Gorgany range of the Carpathians and introduced 24 children to the mountains and camping. The main participants were teenagers who have been in Zaporizhzhia for a long time with the status of internally displaced persons from the temporarily occupied part of Zaporizhzhia oblast. We did not aim to conquer heights or cover hundreds of kilometers. These outings were intended as easy and beautiful hikes so that the children would fall in love with the mountains and be distracted from living near the front lines.

Almost none of the children had been to the mountains before, let alone on a five-day expedition. They quickly learned that backpacks with clothes, food, and tents make quite a load — especially when climbing a rocky path. Children had to master the tricks of setting up the tents so that they would really protect them from rain and withstand the wind. Firewood and water, as it turned out, are quickly depleted, and building a fire from wet branches is almost magical. When it seemed that life was forever ruined, and "Mom, why did I come??" popped into the mind, hot, savory soup was poured into bowls, and the world became beautiful again.

We walked up and down, ate blueberries until our tongues were blue, tasted lingonberries and raspberries, saw many different mushrooms, summited Mount Grofa (1748m/5735') and from there, we jumped a little higher. We beheld sunrises and sunsets, gazed at the stars, and were enchanted by the mists. Our bodies roasted in sunshine and froze in darkness. And when there were streams, we jumped over or crawled over them scooting along a long log.

We caught lizards and frogs and played with someone’s dog. We slept in tents and wooden shelters, played Mafia around the campfire and Contact during the crossings. We fell in some places and got wet feet many times. It rained about a hundred times a day — when we were sleeping, cooking, eating, walking, and pitching or folding tents. We dried clothes and shoes (even burned some) and within an hour they were wet again. Even after washing, they still smelled of wood smoke.

We were a team every minute! Children held up branches and alerted each other to pits and puddles lurking among the scrub. Together they went for firewood and water, and took turns hauling trash. But the most important thing is that we achieved our goal: Twenty-four teenagers definitely had respite from air alarms and the rattle of explosions for at least a few days.

Happy Child foundation - effective help to the most needy children of the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, since 2004

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