The Belsky Ustye summer volunteer camp has come to an end


Three weeks of real happiness, smiley faces, joy and the tightest hugs in the world. Students are already bored and waiting for the next camp while volunteers, bursting with new emotions and experiences, are already thinking about activities for next time – and they’re barely home!

The summer volunteer camp at the Belsky Ustye orphanage for students with special needs, which the Step Up Centre arranges every year, has ended. For three weeks – 6 hours a day for 6 days a week – volunteers arranged educational activities for students. They organised festivals and masterclasses so that students at the orphanage could have a proper summer holiday.

This year the camp took place between 4th and 23rd July, with around 30 volunteers from various cities in Russia organising activities for 72 students.

There was mutual love and enthusiasm between students who are always open and ready to try new things and volunteers – an incredible group of people who made the camp so brilliant, warm and sunny despite all the difficulties, including unpredictable weather!

For three weeks, a new world was opened for students – they learned more about themselves and their peers because in that room, on their mats, everyone was the same. A new movement, a new sparkle in the eyes and repetitions of the phrase “I want to do it again”. This sums up the yoga masterclass.

The dance masterclass brought energetic movements and a search for rhythm to the sound of new music – for those in wheelchairs too.

Unusual hats, masks and bright items of clothing were all made by hand in the classroom.

And finally, lovely smells and happy conversation, along with the obligatory ritual of flouring the surfaces – all this came as part of our culinary masterclass.

We could go on forever but we have to stop to say that all of this was only possible thanks to everyone that was there over these three weeks.

Thank you to all our guests who came and went, bringing so much positivity with them, conducting classes and masterclasses and talking about life in the big city – which is a little different to our life without internet here!

Thank you so much to our volunteers! You are the best and you will always be in the Centre’s heart.

Thank you to Paulina Bikonya for the amazing photos – it’s all down to her that you can see the camp for yourselves! More photos are in our gallery.