For the fourth year in a row employees and volunteers of the Youth and Children in Crisis Program run by Caritas Kyiv have held summer tent camps for disadvantaged youths. The camps are held on the Kyiv reservoir.
This year’s summer camp was made possible thanks to the annual Christmas Candle fundraiser, and joint fundraisers held with METRO, and Kraft Foods Ukraine.
Caritas’ summer camps are held for orphans, children and adolescents from vulnerable families, those who are socially disadvantaged, and for children of labour migrants.
The goal of these camps, which occur throughout the summer in various corners of Ukraine, is: to provide a healthy way for children to recreate, to help children develop an active lifestyle, to encourage children to independently organize their daily lives, to offer children the opportunity to try new activities, to provide a safe place for children to socialize and to allow children to feel that they are part of a group.
Staff and volunteers feel that their mission is not only to provide children with social and financial assistance, but also to provide psychological support and help them adopt comprehensive Christian values. Qualified psychologists, pedagogues, social workers, and a large number of gifted and innovative volunteers coordinate the work done with children.
Tens of Caritas Kyiv’s child clients participated in this year’s summer camp on the Kyiv Reservoir. The youngest camper was three years old, and the oldest became volunteers including a young couple who was formerly homeless. As children this couple was cared for by Caritas, and now they volunteer to help others.
This year’s camp run by Caritas Kyiv ended on 22 July. It combined cleaning up the territory, setting up the tent camp, daily housekeeping activities, educational events, sports, swimming, socializing and countless competitions.
From 22-29 August in the Carpathian Mountains were one more camp for disadvantaged children aged 8-16. This camp was held on a specially equipped resort in the city of Yaremche, located in the Ivano-Frankivs’k region. Aside from the usual rest and relaxation the organizers prepared a program to encourage volunteerism and explore various ways that children can serve their society. One of the first challenges for campers is to organize a charitable event.
“If today, we do not instil goodness in our children and teach them that they should serve their neighbours, be innovative, and display leadership, then how can we expect this from them when they become adults and start an independent life? I am afraid that “I” will become the centre of their lives. That is not the kind of future Caritas wants for its country!” emphasizes Fr. Roman Syrotych, Director of Caritas Kyiv.
Caritas’ summer camps were preceded by thorough but enjoyable preparation. For several months, every Wednesday Caritas staff and volunteers held one day workshops for children and youths from crisis families. They were practically one day camps where clients learned what they needed to know in order to go camping in the woods. The workshops were filled with activities aimed at self recognition and active, purposeful and exciting recreation.
They participated in physically demanding games, exercises aimed at developing observation skills, intellectual games, swimming and sun bathing, crossing the river, hikes in the woods, pitching tents, learning local history and environmental conservation, and cleaning up the area.
“We plan to diversify and increase the number of our outdoor weekly activities. As a form of recreation, these trips maybe even more interesting than our camps on the Kyiv Reservoir.
We also want to include parents and guardians in our camping workshops. This will allow us to optimize our work of socializing and educating the children; it will give families a foundation, improve their psychological connection to one another and foster understanding between generations,” explains Slavko Fedchev, Interim Director of Caritas Kyiv’s Children’s Programs.