Since the times of the USSR, summer for many children in Ukraine meant going on an exciting trip to a camp, usually located in the place abundant with nature, like seaside or forest areas. These camps gave an opportunity to meet fellow-minded peers, enjoy festive activities and let the body and mind rest from the busy cities. Nowadays, camps in all their variety carry the same purpose. Let's see how children's camp system is built in Ukraine.
The first attempt to organize children's leisure in summer belongs to a retired British Colonel Robert Baden-Powell. He carefully selected 20 boys from wealthy privileged families and took them to an island near London. There, for two weeks, Baden-Powell taught the boys the rules of life in bivouac, as well as key scout skills. Similar Boy Scouts camps, as well as summer cottages, became widespread in the West and they still exist nowadays.
As for Ukraine, which then was a part of the USSR, children's camps history began in the early 1920s. At the time, medical and government circles were engaged in an acute discussion about establishment of a state system of children's recreation. The main initiator of the new system was the first deputy commissar of public health of the USSR Zinoviy Petrovich Solovyov. After the end of the Civil War, an extensive network of children's health facilities were established in the USSR. The crown of his activity in this direction was Artek camp — an all-soviet camp for children's health resort of the new type.
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At the time, development of internal regulations with an emphasis on instilling skills of personal and public hygiene in children was the main focus in camps. Educative work was carried out by pioneer counselors, who came over with their children and left camp with them after the camp shifts. Along with political and educational activities, significant value was given to so-called regional studies. Children were taken on various tourist trips to the nearest settlements. Bonfires, hikes and festivals, fruitful conversations, amateur arts parties, meetings with prominent people were part of the children's camps activity in Ukraine; and nowadays these activities still play a huge role.
In the late 1980s, most of the camps ceased to exist as their financing proved to be almost impossible. Nevertheless, some of them have found ways to financially secure their organizations. Former pioneer camps were now called children's health camps, centers, complexes, etc.
The most famous children's camp not only in Ukraine, but on the territory of post-USSR, Artek International Children's Camp dated back to 1925, when in was opened in June. In 2018 it will mark its 93d anniversary. Throughout its history, the camp managed to become the most desirable place for children from all over the USSR, and welcomed people from all over the world. Artek got its name from the location in the tract Artek on the shore of the same name river in Crimea. At first, children who came to Artek lived in ordinary canvas tents. After some time, lighter plywood houses were built on the shore. Finally, in the 1930s, a winter building was constructed in the upper park, which allowed the camp to host children all year round and highly influenced its popularity. In 1960s, Artek began to actively develop international connections and increase the number of its buildings.
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At the time of the Soviet Union, a trip to Artek was considered a prestigious award for both Soviet children and foreign students. During the period of 1925-1969, Artek welcomed 300 thousand children, among them more than 13 thousand from 17 foreign countries. In 2014, the International Children's Camp Artek in Crimea was annexed by Russia. After the annexation, Ukraine has chosen a new base for Artek — the Bukovel resort. The administration of the camp, however, emphasizes that it is only an alternative for children who due to the annexation of the Crimea will not be able to go there.
Modern children's health camps in Ukraine differ from the pioneer camps created in Soviet times. Most of them are aimed at developing child's personality through wide choice of activities. Thus, educational, leisure, sport and scout camps are the most popular among the other types.
Many parents choose to send their children to linguistic camps, especially those who invite native speakers for the best learning experience. There children are engaged in fun activities that include speaking and comprehension of their target language.
Art camps, aimed at developing painting, sculpting, collage-making and other skills are usually situated in the picturesque places that allow hikes and painting from life.
Scout camps are popular as well —for instance, children in Western Ukraine adore the renowned "Plast", a Ukrainian scout organization whose aim is to promote the patriotic self-education on the principles of Christian morals. It was founded in 1911 and it carefully preserves it history and traditions to this day. Its name comes from the name of the Kuban Cossack-Plastun crawlers, who served as scouts in the Cossack army. Plast actively cooperates with state authorities and public organizations, in particular with the Ministry of Family, Youth and Sports, the Federation of Sports Tourism of Ukraine, the Institute for the Education of the APA of Ukraine to ensure the best experience for children.
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Another peculiar option of children's leisure in Ukraine are business camps — there children learn to write business plans, manage their own budget, learn various business ideas and patterns. No matter the style or trends, all camps for children in Ukraine carry the same good purpose — to ensure the best leisure during holidays and kindle interest in self-development.
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