On January 16, 600 Crimean children from special boarding schools visited the Artek International Children’s Center. The idea came from children currently living at Artek. They hosted excursions around Artek for their Crimean peers and told them about Artek’s traditions. Crimean children were the first ones to see children’s plays in the new theater hall of the Suuk-Su Palace.
Children from special boarding schools of Bakhchisarai and Simferopol, to name a few, came to Artek as guests. Counselors welcomed the Crimean children in comfortable Artek buses that arrived in Simferopol to pick up the children. On the way to Artek, the children played icebreaker games and followed along in cheers. They were told about the beautiful places of Crimea and the legendary Artek where they were going.
The day at Artek began with an unusual tour. Crimean children learned about main sights through interactive games. In the park of the Gorny complex Crimean children made wishes at the Tree of Wishes in accordance with Artek tradition. They even had a chance to throw snowballs, as Artek happened to get its first snow that day.
Then Artek children invited their guests to the Suuk-Su Palace where Artek’s new theater was opened ahead of the New Year holiday. The guests saw the first children’s plays that were rehearsed by Artek campers on the eve of the holiday vacation. After the performance all children received presents from United Confectionaries and were treated to a tasty Artek dinner.
Welcoming children on the stage of the Suuk-Su Palace, Deputy Chair of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Crimea Alla Pashkunova thanked Artek for the new initiative and said that such encounters could become a good tradition. She said that such encounters are particularly important for children from special boarding schools. “Artek is a place of success, where children feel happy. They interact with new friends and take part in new educational programs. Everything is beautiful here and this beauty also helps their development. We are glad that our children experienced and saw this today,” she said, adding that over 500 Crimean children stayed at Artek last year on vouchers.
Head of the center Alexei Kasprzhak said Artek is “Crimean” and that about 10,000 Crimean children attended during the winter vacation: “They came to attend New Year parties, go on excursions and see theater performances. We are sure that this is important and in some sense Artek is setting the standard for work with children.”
The idea to invite Crimean children came from a sense among campers that the satisfaction of success is even greater when it brings joy to others. “We decided to stage this fairy tale not only for Artek children but also for the children from all over beautiful Crimea,” said Vera Borodacheva from Camp Lazurny (Chita, Trans-Baikal Territory). “We were supported by the counselors and heads of Artek and today there are so many children here! I am so glad that we can make them happy. This is very exciting and important,” she said.
Leila Refatova, instructor of the Bakhchisarai special boarding school, spoke about the importance of the trip to Artek for her students. “We have children with different levels of intellectual development. Our primary task is their socialization. We try to take them on excursions but this is the first time in 26 years of my work that we received an opportunity to take them to the world’s best children’s center. The trip to Artek was a kind of encouragement for their achievements in studies. Our children were so happy to come here, as they heard a lot about Artek and now their dream has come true. We are so grateful to the organizers for this invitation. Obviously, this was quite an undertaking. An Artek bus awaited us in the morning. All the students went to say goodbye as if we were going on a long journey. And how they welcomed us at Artek! Everyone around us was smiling, saying hello, welcoming us. The landscape and architecture are very beautiful, which itself is useful for the aesthetic education of the children. The landscape of South Crimea is different from that of Bakhchisarai and the remote steppe regions where many of our children come from. Many of them saw the sea and cypresses for the first time in their life”.
As for the impression the trip to Artek produced on the Crimean students, they describe it themselves.
Yelena Grifonova, Simferopol: “I have always dreamt of visiting Artek. I was stunned by the snow-covered palm trees – everything here looks like a fairy tale. We were met by counselors as a real Artek team. They are very friendly and attentive. They taught us games and told us about Artek traditions. All the stage plays were very interesting and informative. When I become a teacher, I will stage one of these plays with my students. The Artek children did a great job. They created a wonderful holiday.”
Polina Nazarenko, Simferopol: “I am glad Artek invited us and presented us with a day in the world’s best children’s center. This is my first time at Artek and I would like to stay here very much. I was impressed by everything: this palace, the nature and beautiful snow-covered palm trees. I like the theater very much. The children acted well, like real actors. I was surprised how well organized, disciplined and independent Artek children are. I would like to play a role in the theater as well. Maybe we will also stage a play with our class.”
Anna Liganova, Simferopol: “When I came to Artek, I felt this special Artek atmosphere. I liked it and I particularly liked the counselors. They are friendly and cheerful and talk to you like a friend, which makes you relax and feel good. To be honest, I would like to become a counselor myself and work at Artek. Naturally, I enjoyed the performance on stage. They prepared well for it and had bright and beautiful outfits. We felt like we were at a real theater. I was sitting in the house and felt like I was part of this holiday because I felt like a real Artek girl.”