Children’s recreation is of state importance in Belarus
By May, it was clear where pupils would spend their summer, being not only looked after, but spending their holidays in the most useful way. Those who stay in town can choose from a range of options, including school camps, children’s creative centres and patriotic shifts.
Teenagers from the Quest Time Camp for children visited the Museum of Fire
Museum night and break dance
School camp life runs to schedule, with lessons tailored to interests, sporting activities and guided tours, plus essential lunches and snacks. Beyond that, every school develops its own leisure strategy, using teachers’ imagination and experience. The range of activities includes quizzes, outdoor games, sporting competitions, and visits to museums and cinemas. Often, children are taken for one-day journeys outside the city. Walks in the park and the Botanical Gardens are commonplace.
In the Minsk Region, this year’s holiday slogan is ‘Summer for the Good’. Almost every school will have foreign language classes, taught via games.
The ‘Summer for All’ action will take place for the first time this year. Upper form pupils will be entertaining younger pupils and school camps will hold their version of Museum Night, as well as knights’ tournaments, archery competitions, and Irish dance and break dancing master classes.
A three-week duration for children aged 11-13 will cost BYR 200,000 to 400,000, with the cost of food subsidised.
Understanding what you want to be
Senior pupils will enjoy a special activity this summer, receiving career guidance from teachers, helping them choose a future occupation. “We give opportunities to try various areas, so that school children can choose their future profession thoughtfully,” says Deputy Education Minister Victor Yakzhik.
In the Gomel Region, the ‘Professional Holidays’ project has been launched, at creative centres for children and youth, allowing youngsters to meet outstanding researchers, travellers, inventors and mothers of large families.
The High Tech Park’s educational centre has opened the Academy of IT Geniuses this year, and schools and lyceums have opened computer camps. Children are taught to make a game or a videofilm within a couple of days. Robotics-making courses are yet another option. This variant, however, is a little more expensive: an 18-day duration at the Academy costs BYR 950,000.
Go weed pulling!
Labour camps still operate, with children aged 14 and above eligible to enrol. In the past, school children would work in such camps for free. Today, they provide a good opportunity to rest and earn some pocket money. Teenagers work half-days and spend the remainder on cultural activities.
“We start arranging jobs for senior pupils in March. At schools, work is quite easy — they can pull weeds in flower-beds or collect litter. The pay is just over BYR 1,000,000 a month. Another option is to work at an enterprise, such as Zelenstroy, or to work with a utility service crew. Last year, pupils could earn BYR 4.5 million!” notes the Head of Minsk’s Partizansky District Administration, Veronika Rudaya.
This year, the High Tech Park’s educational centre has opened the Academy of Geniuses
Who wants some stone soup?
Another free option is to spend summer at a military patriotic camp, arranged by military units, under the initiative of local administrations or the Belarusian Republican Youth Union. They are located in the city and in the suburbs, accessible by bus. Such camps used to be for boys only but girls also like playing war games, camping and eating stone soup. Now, both boys and girls can backpack or take lessons in shooting.
Funny quests are the best
Minsk teachers have devised an amazing children’s leisure activity, similar to a computer game, at the Svetoch Centre for Supplementary Education of Children and Youth, in the Sovetsky District of Minsk. The idea is simple, with each day bringing a new quest.
“Quests are trendy today, and children are happy to do them. During the school year, they become tired of lessons and homework and dream of adventure,” says the head of the Quest Time Camp, Yelena Latysheva. “Every day, they’ll be assigned a new task. We’re also holding our version of the ‘Voice’ children’s show, which is popular, and are planning master classes in painting, dancing, theatre, and crafts. Other activities include sporting competitions and guided tours.
Quest Time is available for children aged 7 to 11, who are too young to go to camps outside the city.
Discipline is strictly maintained, with early morning exercise at 7.30am, followed by breakfast and lessons according to their interests. Fulfilling tasks earns them points, with prizes awarded based on total score.
Children love working with Tamara Leunina, of Toptyzhka soft toy studio, who shows them how to work with fabric, fur and leather to make animals or fairy tale characters. With fifteen years’ experience, she’s a great teacher. Her small room resembles a puppet theatre workshop. She comments that children never seem to stop laughing as they work, which may explain why their toys are so lovely. A spirit of fun reigns.
By Kristina Khilko