Summer Camps in Belskoye-Ustye

ROOF has been providing an annual summer camp in Belskoye-Ustye for over a decade. Since children from this orphanage are not sent to summer camps, and are not usually permitted to travel, we decided in 2000 to bring a summer camp to them.

photo from summer camp 2011

Volunteers with children from the orphanage during the Belskoye-Ustye Summer Camp 2011.

As well as volunteers from inside Russia (Moscow, St Petersburg and Pskov), we have also brought volunteers from Britain, Canada, France, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Poland, Spain, Ukraine, USA and other countries. The volunteers either stay in ROOF’s Baranovo house or camp in its grounds, and many return year on year.

Along with the contribution to the children’s education and broadening their experience of the world, the camp has also drawn the attention of local media and helped to improve public perception of institutionalized children. in addition, the experience of working at the camp has been significant in the lives of the volunteers — contributing also to their education and broadening their understanding of the world.

For the daily program, volunteers plan their own activities based on the interestes and preferences of the children, as well as their own interests and their assessments of the children’s skills and abilities. The best activities are designed to stretch the skills, abilities and imagination of the children — interesting them and encouraging them at the same time as bringing them joy.

Examples of activities from previous summer camps include puppet theatre, dancing, arts and crafts, designing and creating things from readily-accessible natural materials, outdoor games, developmental games, educational games teaching numeracy and literacy, games teaching household/independent-living skills and many, many more. There are also thematic days where everyone works together on a particular topic, and days out to local sites of interest.

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By the end of the camp, all of the children are left with a significant amount of things they have made with their own hands. They are also left with new impressions, happy memories, and the experience of relationships with people from a world beyond the orphanage. For us, this is a responsibility to return again year on year and let these children know that they have not been forgotten.