Soviet Young Pioneer Experiences: Lyudmila Jackson

Figure 1.--Soviet Young Pioneer camps varied greatly. The Artek Camp Lyudmila attended was a show case camp for the entire summer camp system. It had impressive facilities with dormitories rather than cmbins that most Americans think about concerning summer camps.

We would love to obtain accounts from our readers about their experiences in the Young Pioneers. So far we hve not had much luck. We note a wonderful account by a Russian girl named Lyudmila Jackson. (She married a British subject.) Lyudmila attended both regular and the special Artek Camp during the 1960s. She loved the camps and experience.

Pioneer Camps

Lyudmila writes the following about Soviet Pioneer Camps, "There were pioneer camps all over the country in the summer. The price was nominal and for many children it was free. It was free for the families who had more than two children, for single parents and for families whose income was below a certain level. Any child could go to a pioneer camp if he wanted. Although the same teachers were looking after us there, there was still much more freedom than during the school year. No lessons to attend, no homework to do. Freedom! Pioneer camps were usually situated near a forest or a river in a picturesque place. Many children enjoyed being there away from their parents' watchful eye and from school. Every teacher had to work in a pioneer camp for a month, for the remaining two summer months they had holidays too. Some children who were quiet and not very communicative did not like being in a camp, they missed home. Most of us loved it! I have been to a camp once or twice only. Pioneer camp activities were far from politics. There were lots of sport activities and clubs to join. We went to the river to swim and sunbathe, played sport games, organised different kinds of competitions, went on excursions and to the cinema, and fell in love with each other secretly. Every morning we had a parade when we were wearing pioneer uniform with a red tie, we reported what we did the previous day and made the plans for today. Some children were praised and rewarded, some were threatened to be sent back home if they misbehave again."

Artek Experience

Lyudmila writes the following about Artek, "There was a big all-union [HBU note: All-union means national or open to children from all the different Soviet republics] pioneer camp in the Soviet Union in the Crimea called 'Artek', where the best pioneers from all the corners of the Soviet Union went and also children from many countries of the world. It was every boy's or girl's dream to be able to go to Artek one day. Only one or two places per year were allocated for all the schools in our town so it felt like winning a lottery when my mother got two places for our school and put forward my name together with another girl's. I think being a head-mistress and very busy most of the time my mother sometimes felt guilty that she could not do enough for her own children or not to spend more time with us. She did more for the other people's children than for her own and that is why I think she pushed me forward and suggested that it was me who should go. However nobody objected as I was a good hardworking girl, I had good marks in all the subjects and always participated in all pioneer activities. That was an unforgettable trip that lasted 45 days. It was a very special time and I even saw Yuri Gagarin there. I have devoted a separate chapter to my trip to Artek."


HBU reders may be interested in more information on the Artek Black Sea coast. It is by fare the best known of the Soviet Young Pioneer summer camps, esentially a show case for the entire system. Artk wa founded in 1925. It may have been the first Pioneer summer camp, if not it was one of the earliest. Nikita Khrushchev apparently had some role at the camp, but it is not mentioned in Khrushchev Remembers. A ajor forces behind the foundation of the Camp was Dr. Simoneiv Solovow, an associate of LÚnine. They appeared to have theorized that Soviet and Communist ideals can best be implanted in youth because their minds were most maleable. They also reasoned that a camp environment where the children were away from home and their parents was an ideal location to indocrinate children. This is one of the primary difference with Scouting.


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Created: 5:10 PM 3/15/2006
Last updated: 5:10 PM 3/15/2006