What an amazing time I had!
The trip far exceeded expectations. Before I left I imagined there to be a bit of tension between us and the carers, but on the contrary! The Zhuravichi carers especially were really hospitable, they invited me for tea and offered me lots of food and the next night most of group 1 bonded with them – we had a nice rapport by the end of our time at Ptich.
I found the trip very rewarding – no other feeling compares to making a child laugh or smile. I spent one afternoon with Mischa from Zhuravichi and he seemed quite frustrated and hit me in my face a few times! But the next day I picked him up and did some dancing in Lindsey’s outdoor zumba session and he wouldn’t stop laughing and wanted to carry on dancing! That was a special moment for me.
I really want to volunteer again at Ptich next year, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get the time off work. Fingers crossed anyway. I also wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed being part of the student group. CCP does a fantastic job in so many ways – I hope to help in any way I can for years to come.
When I was getting ready for camp this year, I was a bit apprehensive, as I enjoyed it so much last year and worried it wouldn’t live up to my expectations again! But I enjoyed this year even more than the last! The children remembered me and we made friends straight away. The young adults from Zhuravichi and Vikov were so easy to bond with, and so kind and sweet, we all just wanted to make them smile and laugh and ensure they had a great holiday. I’m particularly glad that I was there for the majority of the holiday, as after spending so much time with the children they become more than simply cute children; you want to make them happy with your whole heart. They deserve exactly the same as everyone else, and you love them like family.
Both years that I have gone to the Summer Camp I have felt so nervous beforehand. Nervous that I’d make something go terribly wrong, that the children or the volunteers just wouldn’t like me, that my experience working with children is just too little compared to the professionals that would be there, that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the early mornings and long days, that I’d look stupid dancing at the disco, that it would just be too upsetting to work with the children. Both years have been absolutely brilliant in every single way. Every single little smile is something to be treasured and remembered forever. It would not be possible to spend those twelve days in any more worthwhile or rewarding way. The most important thing is to give it everything you’ve got, all your enthusiasm and energy, and that is all that you want to do when you see how happy it makes the children. The training weekend this year was a great opportunity to meet all the volunteers, bond over the impossibility of the Russian language and my only wish both there and at the camp was that they were much much longer! For me the two main reasons why I intend to go back year after year are the children and the volunteers. The children are so happy to see you, so full of life and energy and imagination, everybody goes back to England (or Ireland, or Amsterdam, or Newcastle) wishing they could take at least a good dozen home with them. The volunteers are all the most amazing people I have ever met, they are all so inspirational in their devotion to the camp, so encouraging when you are exhausted, there is so much to learn from their experiences and their skills, and no matter how different we all might be, we all share an indefatigable desire to help the children and to make them smile.