An international summer camp for children from migrant families was held in Priozersk district of Leningrad region between July 29 and August 7, 2013. The camp was organized by ADC “Memorial”, it was prepared as part of the project for assisting social and cultural integration of children from migrant families living in Saint Petersburg. The aim of the project is creation of psychologically favorable conditions for social and cultural adaptation of children from migrant families into the Russian society.
Children from Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Russia (Chechnya and Saint Petersburg) came to the camp. Many of the kids were victims of unfavorable life situations – forced migration, hate crimes, domestic violence, ethnic conflicts. All children come from families of labor migrants. Two dozen children were living together in a tent camp on the banks of Vuoksa river accompanied by the staff and volunteers of ADC “Memorial”.
Activities in the camp included team building events and games in the open air. Children mastered climbing rope facilities and rocks, trekking, navigation through the forest, as well as training their capacity to observe during the camping games at the touristic centre. Trips on boats and rafts through river rapids became a real adventure for them. Psychological games were also popular with children as were various competitions, including running relay race, water volleyball and shooting pneumatic riffle. Frisbee, badminton and various ball games, including volleyball and football, tag and other games, which kids either played for the first time or remembered by themselves were also favourite pastimes.
Children also expressed great interest in table and intellectual games. They played Mafia and other fun games, held a championship in chess and draughts. Table games on the history of Saint Petersburg, the rights of labor migrants in the Russian Federation, the history of Earth and natural evolution were also part of the program. Camp guests who were part of the Russian-German exchange program organized a lesson aimed to promote values of tolerance and taught the kids how to draw comic strips.
Children were really impressed by the beauty and richness of Russian nature. Most of them experienced for the first time what it was to live in a tent, make a camp fire, sing songs to the guitar. Kids were eager to absorb Russian folklore – songs, games and counts, – and of course were thrilled to tell horror stories in the evening. Children who had not been able to speak Russian before started to make basic conversations with their peers in this language.
But probably the most valuable lesson that children had in the summer camp was the experience of real friendship, mutual aid, equality and solidarity. Kids became good friends, helped one another, shared both fun and responsibilities. The organizers of the camp are glad that for many of the kids the symbols of Russia will be not only police raids, identity checks and hysterical phobia of immigrants, but the hospitable banks of Vuoksa river, Karelian forest, songs by the campfire and real friendship, mutual respect and brotherhood.