Soviet Young Pioneers: Individual Summer Camps


Figure 1.--Kirsten Koza tells us, This photo was taken at an average Young Pioneer summer camp that we visited. The children attending that camp are in the baby blue shorts and white shirts. I'm in the dark blue shorts with long blonde braids and am lacking the red scarf--I'm wearing another one of our Orlyonok issue uniforms---one that was considered more casual and wasn't used during marching ceremonies but was worn for regular camp activities (of course once you read my book you will see that there was nothing regular about those activities)." Click on the image for information about Kirsten's book,

Perhaps the best known Young Pioneer camp was the Artek camp in the Crimea. I believe that it may have been one of the first such camps organized for the Young Pioneers. It developed into a prestigious camp attended by the children of the Soviet elite. Another well known camp was Orlyonok on Russias Black Sea coast. In addition to the presige camps there were specialized camps. While several of these camps were very well known, they were just a few of the hundreds of camps developed in the Young Pioneer summer camp system. Camps were set up throughout the Soviet Union. Most were set up after World war II when the Young Pioneer program was expanded. These regular Pioneer camps today are virtually unknown in the West. Millions of Soviet children passed through these camps and today have fond memories of them. Facilities varied greatly from camp to camp. They did not normally have all the facilities as the prestige camps, but many had ample facilities. These regular camps provided a summer program for virtually any child that was interested. Some children complained of the regimentation, but most enjoyed the experience. Many are still run as summer camps sponsored by a range of institutions in modern Russia.

Regular Camps

While several of the prestige camps were very well known, they were just a few of the hundreds of camps developed in the Young Pioneer summer camp system. Camps were set up throughout the Soviet Union. Most were set up after World War II when the Young Pioneer program was expanded. These were the camps attended by the average Soviet children whose parents did not have important positions and children there were not especially gifted in some way. These regular Pioneer camps today are virtually unknown in the West. Millions of Soviet children passed through these camps and today have fond memories of them. Facilities varied greatly from camp to camp. They did not normally have all the facilities as the prestige camps, but many had ample facilities. Here are information is still limited. Some of the regular camps, however seem to have more elaborate buildings than American summer camps (figure 1). We are unsure about the facilities beyond the buildings. These regular camps provided a summer program for virtually any child that was interested. Some children complained of the regimentation, but most enjoyed the experience. Many are still run as summer camps sponsored by a range of institutions in modern Russia.

Prestigious Summer Camps

Theoretically the Communist Soviet system was based on equality. In reality, there was an elite composed of party officials, military officers, scientists, and others. These individuals had access to many advantages such as access to special stores, foreign travel, quality medical care, good schools, better apartments, and a variety of other advanatges. One of these was access to a number of prestigious summer camps, such as the Artek Pioneer camp in Crimea. [Martin] Another prestigious camp was Orlyonok. These camps were not only prestigious camps for the party elite. Children who showed exceptional skills also gained admitance. The camps were also showcase camps for publicity purposes. A children's book, A Journey to Artex describes many activities at the camp. Kirsten Koza in her book, Lost in Moscow, decribes her experiences at the Orlyonok camp.

Specialized Camps

HBU at his time has little information on how the Soviet summer camp program was organized. We do not know how they were set up and differentiated in age and gender. We do know that childen were individually assigned to camps rather than by school groups. Children probably attended local camps, but many children attended camps in the Crimea or other areas located far from home. We know that there were some specialized camps like one for the Marine (Naval) Young Pioneers "Karavella" in the Crimea. We also note that the Singing and Dancing Ensemble of V. Loktev had a specialized camp.

Bolshoi Choir Group

Some Pioneers appears to have attended summer camp as part of group. We note, for example, the Bolshoi Choir attending the Artex Summer Camp. It was the most prestigious camp in the Pioneer camp system. The Choir appears to have attended Young Pioneer camps together where they wore the standard Pioneer uniform during a 1978 visit to the Artec Young Pioneer camp. The choir are dressed in a pioneer camp uniform. This was shirt, neckerchief and shorts, sandles for boys. Same for girls, except they wore matching skirt. The photographs show a variety of activities. They seem to be on holiday and not there to perform. They are photographed at local beauty spots relaxing. At the camp some can play musical instruments for a group are gathered round a piano while one boy plays and the others are singing or listening. There is a picture of a room and the child is making their bed.Other rooms are the table tennis recreation room, the dinning hall and reception area. We see nothing destinctive about the Pioneer uniform the choir wore. It appears to be the standard Pioneer camp unifirm. We note that the choir sang at some camp functions.

Sources

Koza, Kirsten. Lost in Moscow (2005).






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Created: 10:21 PM 9/26/2005
Last updated: 2:19 AM 9/27/2005