Mila Ilina, Εditor-in-Chief “Magazine for Children Holidays & Tourism”
The passing of 2020 was anything but easy for all of us. This global health and economic crisis has also affected the children’s camp industry in Russia.
Camps in Russia
The system of organised children’s camps has been running successfully for over a hundred years. Over 2000 children’s overnight camps and holiday centres open up every summer. Some of them also operate during other periods of the year. There are many more supervised camping sites that offer excursions and camps for groups of children, as well as theme holiday programs. The experience accrued over the years has created a strong and important tradition of connecting children with healthy activity outdoor.
Russian camps in 2020
In the year 2020, however, Russia saw only 300 overnight camps opening for children in July, and those were operating at half capacity. The terms of stay were quite restrictive for the children as well as for the staff. These health and safety measures proved to be effective: no COVID-19 cases related to any child’s stay in these camps have been reported. Because of the lower number of operating camps, the number of children who had a chance to experience organised summer camps was six times smaller than in the year 2019.
It is not yet clear what the situation with organised children’s holidays is going to be in summer 2021. Everything depends on the COVID restrictions to be imposed: whether they will be partially or fully lifted or re-imposed. Preparation was on its way this autumn: Relevant training events for staff including sharing the experience of successful operations as well as conferences and meetings amongst directors and ministry officials. Group leaders, staff and supervisors are being recruited for the coming year including university students. Training sessions are held predominantly on-line. There are also the usual contests for the best children’s camp project. Each holiday centre develops their own activity programs that would fit their specific theme holiday project (e.g. educational, sport, cultural, tourist and hobby topics).
Children’s camp holiday programs are supervised and governed by regional authorities. Because the health crisis is affecting different parts of Russia in different ways, there is no conformity. The situation and requirements differ from region to region. One consistency is that most children’s camps and holiday centres struggle with financing their projects. Fortunately, many public organisations and groups are speaking out for them and giving them their full support.
Hope for brighter days of summer
Everyone is looking forward to the times when the COVID situation eases off. Then children will again get the opportunity to spend their holidays away from home and visit other regi
ons of the country. The shared struggle makes us stronger and more committed as an industry to return to the brighter days of summer.