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Religious education:  Summer camps for children
The Camp of the Brotherhood of Savior the Merciful (Moscow)
The Camp "Little Town in the Woods" (Novosibirsk)

The Camp of the Brotherhood of Savior the Merciful (Moscow)

One of the first initiatives undertaken by our Brotherhood since it was officially inaugurated in October 1990, was the acquisition of a piece of land to use it for a summer camp. At the end of 1990 we came into possession of 7 hectares of land in the Tutaev district of the Yaroslavl region. This is a wonderful spot, embracing a field, a woods, valleys, a river with a beautiful beach, a half-ruined church surrounded by a cemetery. The river is the Volga with a high bank not far from the village of Bogoslovo, 12 kilometers from the old Russian town of Romanov-Borisoglebsk.

The land for four years running from 1991 to 1994 had been used for summer tent-camps. During the first two summers the camps offered rest to some 100 children in each of two terms, that is for 2-3 weeks. In the following two summers, there were organized four terms for 150 children in each. A unique feature of our camps is the fact that next to the camp for schoolchildren there was a camp for their parents staying there with their smaller brothers and sisters. At first we thought that so close proximity would be impossible. But most families with many children had nowhere to send their children for summer vacations, and the impossible combination turned out quite possible. The experience of four years has shown that this combination is both possible and useful. Older children help to chop wood, to bring water and do many other things in the family camp - without their help the family camp would not survive. Festive occasions bring all together.

Another characteristic feature of our camp is the half-ruined church. Its restoration, decoration of the interior, the clearing of the territory around it are an important daily assignments for children, making their life meaningful and interesting. The rest in 1991 and in 1992 was organized by the parishioners of the St.Nicholas church in Kuznetsy. In the 3rd term of 1993 summer rest for their children and youth was organized by the parishioners of the church of St.Mitrofaniy of Voronezh. In 1994, the zero (preparatory) and the first terms were sponsored by the parish of St.Nicholas in Kuznetsy; the second term - by the parish of St.Tsarevich Dimitry, the third - by the parish of St. Mitrofaniy of Voronezh. The first term offered rest to 150 children, the second and the third - to 100 each. The organization of the summer camp has been so far the greatest of the initiatives of the Brotherhood.

In 1993 it was already clear that one summer camp was not enough to cater for all our children. Therefore further attempts were undertaken to find another territory for a second summer camp. In 1994 a new Kalyazinskiy camp was organized by the parish of St.Nicholas in Kuznetsy, not far from the town of Kalyazin on the Volga river, which offered rest to 100 children. What made the Kalyazinskiy camp special was its movable (for travellers) church, dedicated, on the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II, to All the Saints Glorified in the Land of Russia.

Emelianov N.E.,
Chairman of the Brotherhood of Savior the Merciful

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The Camp "Little Town in the Woods" (Novosibirsk)

The Little Town in the Woods is a summer camp organized by five parishes in Novosibirsk for their gymnasia and Sunday school children. The camp has functioned for two summer seasons. Work with children in the camp has been carried out along the following three major lines:

Spiritual and moral education: the children participated in divine services, heard talks on religious and moral subjects, saw church video films, and were introduced to the order of church life and new things about Orthodoxy.

Sports and fitness: all conditions have been created for children's active physical activities including various sports events, bathing, training. A special attention was given to diet including fresh vegetables and fruits, herb, and vitamin teas. An experienced physician carried out continuous prevention treatment.

Aesthetic and general education: the children had an opportunity to broaden their outlook and erudition and to apply their musical, arts and drama gifts in a choir school and arts club. They prepared recitals and short plays for holidays. They also took part in preparations for a conference on Siberian saints. Through slide shows and catechetical lessons they were introduced to world arts and music culture as well as the history of Siberia.

The bulk of the organizational, educational and sports work was assumed by the teachers of St. Sergius of Radonezh Orthodox Gymnasium.

Life in the camp was full of various activities. The library worked every day as did the clubs for the following activities:

  • Drawing and water colors;
  • Choir singing;
  • Drama: poetry recitals and plays;
  • Sports: land orientation exercises;
  • Your Saint's Name club in which every child was introduced to the life of his or her patron saint and his or her commemoration day. Children made over 50 colorful albums devoted to the saints after whom they were named.
The club activities resulted in interesting events, such as a spiritual poetry evening, a sports Olympiad, the Name-day, an exhibition of drawings, and a final concert with poetry recital, plays, folk songs and dances.

Throughout the season spiritual-moral talks were held both with children and their parents on such topics, as gratitude, respect for parents, humbleness. Every night the children assembled around a camp-fire to sing and to listen to interesting stories.

Among the significant events in the camp was a children's conference on the local history devoted to Siberian saints. There were many guests who came for the conference from Novosibirsk. Children made presentations on the most venerated Siberian saints and played scenes from their lives. Our gymnasium's teachers prepared a Siberian calendar and a large 2 x 3-meter map of Siberia depicting the landmarks in Siberian history. There was also an exhibition of literature and copies of rare icons.

During the second season a children's play-ground was set up at Orthodox Kindergarten No. 340. Among the most interesting events that summer were excursions and pilgrimages. The children visited the Museum of Wooden Architecture, spent a day with their friends at the Novo-Lugovoye Parish, made a trip by steam-boat in the Obskoye Sea and visited the United Kids camp. In addition, there were quizzes, contests, film shows, hiking trips. As usual, the children spent much time playing in the open and bathing.

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