When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.


Searching For Summer Camp In Russia Is Serious Business

Summer camp in Tver, Russia
Summer camp in Tver, Russia
Irina Begimbetova and Svetlana Romanova

MOSCOW — In a small town outside the capital, 15-year-old boys live in barracks with soldiers. They march in formation, memorize army regulations and sing songs in unison.

“After our camp, young men aren’t afraid of hazing,” says Vladimir Prixodko, the camp director, referring to a persistent problem in the Russian army that has scared off potential new recruits.

Prixodko's camp costs $500 per session, and includes kids from the U.S. and Holland — the children of emigrants who have settled in Russia. Last year the camp was full: 200 young men attended over four separate sessions. This year, the organizers are planning to expand even more.

This is not your classic "Kumbaya" and bonfires type of summer camp. But who wants that kind of thing anymore anyway? Why should children spend the summer having fun when they could be off learning valuable working skills? Summer soldiering is one option for Russian parents. But there are plenty of others to choose from as well.

Good deeds

In 2007, Yekaterina Golubeva, a journalist from St. Petersburg, bought a house in a tiny, rundown village called Gostilovo. Wanting to improve her new hometown, Golubeva thought of a project for the local park, the only thing left of a regal home that had once been in the village center. She signed a 49-year lease for the park for $40 per year, and did a crowd-funding campaign to buy a tiller. Since 2012, families have come with children to volunteer to clean up the park.

“I think that kids today don’t get enough meaningful labor,” Golubeva says.

Aleksei Stolyarov, the owner of a tourism company, has a similar program in the village he’s lived in for the past 10 years. Entire families have signed up to come to Stolyarov’s village, beginning in May, to build a playground, repair the roads and plant trees.

Song and dance

Andrei Bogdanov, who runs an acting school for children and teens, bringing together aspiring filmmakers at the seaside in Bulgaria, got inspiration for his summer camp from an Italian film festival (CinemadaMare — "Cinema of the Sea").

Bogdanov didn’t organize it all on his own — he offered the camp to tour agencies. Last year just 15 kids participated, but this year enrollment is up to 30. The camp includes master-classes on professions related to the movie business, and the kids will be required to create their own film as a final project. “I wanted to make a camp that would have been interesting to me as a 12- or 15-year-old,” Bogdanov explains.

Irbis, a dance and theater school for children and teens, will offer a summer camp for kids to put on shows from Kipling and Chekov. “Parents were begging us to open a summer camp,” says the school’s co-owner, Zakhar Tsura. “They wanted their kids to be studying something that they loved over the summer."

Meanwhile, the large central Russian city of Novosibirsk is becoming not only the nation's hub for sciences, but also for the modeling business, with nine agencies in the city for aspiring models.

Last year, Dmitrii Kolesnikov, who works in the industry, started a summer camp for child models. At first there were just 20 kids, who studied how to walk on the catwalk, how to act and choreography, and finished the camp with a portfolio. This year Siberian Top Model is planning to accept 40 to 60 child models. A photo session on yacht and meetings with top models are also on the agenda. Anyone can attend: there are no restrictions based on looks.

The possibilities for children to attend a specialized summer camp are almost endless: There are camps for girls to learn how to sew and cook, and camps for geeks to work on robotics projects.

The only type of summer camp that seems to be hard to find is the old-fashioned variety, where kids just swim, hike and hang out with friends. When there are grown-up marketable skills to be acquired, summer fun has become a serious waste of time.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


The Trumpian Virus Undermining Democracy Is Now Spreading Through South America

Taking inspiration from events in the United States over the past four years, rejection of election results and established state institutions is on the rise in Latin America.

Two supporters of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dressed in Brazilian flags during a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Bolsonaro supporters dressed in national colours with flags in a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on November 4, 2022.

Ivan Abreu / ZUMA
Carlos Ruckauf*


BUENOS AIRES — South Africa's Nelson Mandela used to say it was "so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build."

Intolerance toward those who think differently, even inside the same political space, is corroding the bases of representative democracy, which is the only system we know that allows us to live and grow in freedom, in spite of its flaws.

Recent events in South America and elsewhere are precisely alerting us to that danger. The most explosive example was in Brazil, where a crowd of thousands managed to storm key institutional premises like the presidential palace, parliament and the Supreme Court.

In Peru, the country's Marxist (now former) president, Pedro Castillo, sought to use the armed and security forces to shut down parliament and halt the Supreme Court and state prosecutors from investigating corruption allegations against him.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest