Summer in the city
The Love’s Bridge summer started with two ‘city camps’ for underprivileged kids who were stuck in Perm and had nothing to keep them out of trouble. The first one focused on health and ecological issues, with the kids getting involved in lots of volunteer work which helped them understand how they can change the world they live in. They cleaned up the area around our center, planted flowers for the local community and ran an anti-smoking campaign.
With the second camp we wanted to show the kids other alternatives to life on the streets in Perm. We took part in free sports and cultural activities in the city and were visited by the local Boy Scout organization.
One of the best memories of the camps was when we took the kids to the State Philharmonic. We really had to talk them in to going – they said how it would be really boring, and only old women listen to classical music. Well, they soon changed their minds when they were treated to a private concert by an opera singer, and we got plenty of funny looks on the street outside as the kids took turns to try and emulate her afterwards!
This summer Love’s Bridge also ran three holidays for Perm’s most vulnerable children and teenagers, getting them out of the city and doing something positive with their energy. The first trip was a week-long rafting trip, where the kids got to see some of the beautiful Russian wilderness, while learning many important skills along the way.
A group of older teenagers spent two weeks helping to renovate Perm’s unique Political Repression Museum “Perm-36”, which is based in a former GULAG political prison. We saw some really big progress in lots of the teens who took part in the camp, as they spent a long, intensive period with a group of our volunteers. The final camp was also a volunteer camp, this time for younger teens, who helped to clear up a riverbank in a nature reserve.
Katya (15): Thanks for the wonderful rafting trip I really, really liked it! There were really beautiful hills and rapids, it was all generally brilliant. It was just unreal there – campfires, singing along to the guitar, the ‘banya’, the instructors. I’d like to go on more trips like this.
Dasha (14): A big thank you for organizing such a great rafting trip. It was cool there, and really extreme. We all got nice sun tans and came back in a great mood. This was the best trip I’ve ever been on.
Denis (15): I’m really happy that I took part in this camp. This camp helped me meet new and really interesting people, some have now become very good friends. Thank you very much for this – I really value what you do, and I want to help you as best I can. I also want to thank you for treating me as an equal. The camp was brilliant.
Written by Yulia, Love’s Bridge Center Manager
We were staying in a really beautiful spot by the bank of the river, living in tents. In the morning we worked with the kids, and when it was hot in the afternoon we went swimming and played games. In the evening we sat around the campfire and told the kids scary stories about the spirits of the river and forest. We always put some of our adult thinking into the stories, to give them a meaning or moral, like don’t go wandering in the forest at night, you’ll disturb the spirit who’ll make sure you get lost. The kids listened with great interest – being scared and intrigued at the same time.
One evening they went to bed earlier than usual, and we told them that they could carry on talking as long as they weren’t too noisy. The next morning we made our way to breakfast – a 15-minute walk, including climbing up over 500 steps up the hillside! I got chatting with one of the girls, and I asked her how she’d enjoyed her evening. She said that they had been inspired by us, and stayed up late telling scary stories of their own. I immediately thought of silly children’s ghost stories from my own childhood, and wondered what stories kids nowadays told each other.
I asked the girl to share a couple of stories with me, to which she gave me a secretive look and asked me not to repeat the stories to anyone. She then told me that they had been talking about their own lives – how they were beaten, how their parents fought with each other, how some of them are now dead… about how scary real life can be.