Saturday, August 18, 2012

Summer Camps Make Amazing Vacations

So what did you do in the last three weeks?

Nothing special?

Climb any mountains? Spend time at the beach? Dance in front of an audience? No? Well I did.

 In case you aren't in the know for the past three weeks I have been working with a Moldovan organization called Clipa Siderala which tries to improve the lives of orphans by giving them the opportunity to spend time at a summer camp in the Crimea free of charge. In the past the organization  worked only with orphans but now it has begun raising money by running the  summer camps for cost for Moldovans that can afford it and using any profit it collects to run the summer camp for the orphans. The actual camp is called Sparta and is actually held on the grounds of a public school in the little town of Krasnakamenka. The school allows Clipa Siderala to run the camp on their property during the summer when school is not in session and in exchange the Sparta camp helps the school with repairs and what not.

As for the camp the first few days were like a whirlwind. As if an un-air-conditioned 15 hour bus ride wasn't bad enough as soon as we arrived we were immediately thrown into the mix of things, visiting the Black Sea, athletic competitions, public presentations on stage, visiting the nearby city of Yalta, and climbing a mountain all within the first few days. But once the routine starts everything calms down a lot to the point that I thought the end would never come and when I thought back to living in Moldova it seemed like a lifetime ago. But no matter how exhausted I was most of the time it was always worth it. Like when I swam to a nearby island when we visited the Black Sea for the first time right after our bus ride. I might not have slept at all during that ride and my legs were jello afterward (approximately a kilometer there and back) but the view from the island looking back at the mainland was breathtaking. Another fun adventure is when we left late in the evening to climb a nearby mountain from which the town gets it name and watch the sun set and then after a short nap we climbed a second mountain to watch the sun rise (the taller mountain was about 600 meters and we started near sea-level).

On top of all of the fun things I was able to do and see I was also lucky to meet so many new people, such as another Peace Corps Volunteer who is working in Ukraine and we got to compare notes on our assigned countries and basically came to the conclusion that they are nearly the same country just with different languages. Also working at the camp were some conselors from places like Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Bulgaria. Although most of the counselors and campers were from Moldova and overwhelmingly they all lived in Chisinau, the capital. To make matters even more interesting most of them only spoke Russian with maybe a little English. In combination with all of the shop keepers and such also speaking Russian I felt like I was back and PST and had to learn a new language in order to communicate and go through my everyday functions. But the good news is that Russian no longer scares me and I hope to study it a little more seriously, who knows maybe I'll make a trip to Russia during my Christmas break. Only problem being Americans need a visa (an expensive visa)…I've never needed a visa to visit another country before. Sounds like a lot of work…

PS: I'm running off again to help with a Summer School in another village and I'm not sure if I will have internet connection...If not I'll back next week.

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