This year, the Youth Camp welcomed 40 participants—22 girls and 18 boys—all between the ages of 14 and 21. It was aimed at improving and developing personal and social skills through seminars, debate clubs, games and cultural events. Students were able to participate in seminars on the following topics:
Society and youth
Parents and their children
Society and personal success
The importance of education
How to improve self-esteem
It all started with an idea to gather the community’s girls and boys and take them to the village for ten days. Following the simple rules of survival and a strict schedule, this future generation would learn skills that would soon prove to be extremely useful. This year, they learned everything from building a fire to setting a dining area using only ropes. At other times during the camp, the girls and boys played soccer, volleyball and baseball. They also went for a 15-mile hike and went rafting on the Tuba River.
Most importantly, they learned how to be a community. Living together for ten days gave these kids new perspectives on how society works. Many of them carried these perspectives to real life, improving their relationships with their parents, elders, friends, teachers and mentors. Many of them learned that being “different” doesn’t mean “not to be normal”, but it means that every person is unique and requires an individual approach. Many of them also learned that sometimes, their personal desires need to be sacrificed for the success of the group—the basis of the “teamwork” concept.
Since its start twenty years ago, the Youth Camp project has remained as a unique and continuous pillar, attracting more and more participants. Though the location has changed to a more comfortable cabin-style camp, the idea of the camp being self-sufficient hasn’t changed much. Three meals and two snacks are provided for the children, but they are actively involved in the harvesting and preparation of the meals. Broken up into teams, the kids took turns being responsible for baking bread, tilling the gardens, setting tables, preparing meals, serving each other, and other activities necessary for camp life.
“It was good,” says one boy (aged 14), “to see how much work it is to take care of everyone. At first, they were not grateful even though we spent a lot of time preparing everything, but then they took their own turn and they understood. I think I have to apologize to my mom now.”
Thanks to Girls Education Nation, this year, each member was able to get a 20% discount on the trip to the camp. Four children from low-income families were selected and fully sponsored.
The youth received unforgettable emotions from the time spent together. From their feedback, it became clear that the information and the lessons that they learned at camp filled a big gap in their lives. Girls and boys learned to interact as a team, nurture support, help, encourage each other, and be compassionate.
The ten days spent at Youth Camp 2021 became an invaluable life experience for these young people.
“Thank you to Girls Education Nation for your participation and assistance in the development of Siberian youth!” says Liza Kakunina, Camp facilitator and one of the 2021 Leads. “We can already see a real difference in how these kids interact—they aren’t scared to ask questions, make mistakes, take risks. Everything they learned here they will take with them for the rest of the year!”