Thie year’s children’s camp “Druzhba” (Ukr. “Friendship”) for kids aged 9–14, which is traditionally held in the Carpathians each year, was the most policultural of them all. Both the local Muslim kids, and those born in international marriages and living abroad, who had come to visit their grandparents and other relatives on Summer holidays, participated. There also was one Indonesian boy whose mother worked in Ukraine. However, no barriers in communication ever occurred, for the camp counsellors are fluent in several foreign languages, including English and Arabic, while the Crimean Tatar is easily understood by Turkish speakers.
Overall, 52 children (27 boys and 25 girls) participated in the camp, which this time took place on 1–9 August in Transcarpathia (Tiachiv district). They were accompanied by 10 adults (including a Medical Doctor and a Psychologist). Another thing that differed the camp from the previous ones was that the’d found sponsors to pay for participation of several kids, who were forced to live their home due to military actions; the sponsors chose to remain anonymous.
Young Muslims’ recreation was full of adventure and impressions: scouting in the Carpathians, Shypit waterfall, Synevir lake, and even visit to Brown Bears Rehabilitation Centre helping the animals who had experienced abusive treatment or natural disasters. Animals imported with violations of the current Ukrainian legislation and confiscated bears are also kept at the Centre while the court hearings proceed.
They also went scouting to the highland where they enjoyed the blueberries they picked themselves, played ball, war of tug, and played words while traveling.
Training in archery started on the fourth day, and the boys and the girls were divided in two groups: while one practices in archery, the other bathes in a mountain river, and then they switch turns. The children had several days to master their skills, as an archery contest was held on the pre-last day of the camp. Besides, the girls also attended master-classes on felt applications and brooches.
Every evening, the teenagers gathered around campfire to hear some stories, and were really anxious whether the final campfire would be cancelled due to weather conditions (once of the campfires had to be cancelled because of rainy weather and replaced with a movie performance with popcorn). Still, the final campfire did take place much to everyone’s delight.
Contests and quests were chosen to train as much useful skills as possible: thus, the tidiest of the kids (revealed through every day inspection of the rooms) were given handmade soap; spray paint workshop was combined with presentation of stories about the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and the first caliphs; hadeeth contest was also a teambuilding event on searching the necessary words and placing them in the right order; and tower-of-plastic-cups contest demanded scrupulous calculation, for they needed to make it as high as possible without falling apart, with the most effective material consumption, all at one go.
But the kids didn’t only have fun, they were learning as well. Everyone who either had read a book during the camp or had been a hard working student at Qur’an classes, was presented with a torch that can be attached right to a book. The children attended workshops on performing prayers, and were given a lesson on how to make ablution with only a cup of water (or even no water at all!) while scouting the mountains.
And, of course, revelers got three full halal meals daily, had access to spring water and were accommodated in rooms with individual restrooms. Among their everyday activities were lessons of Islam and Qur’an, sport games in the open air, master-classes, quests, and swimming in the Brusturianka river