Soviet Young Pioneers: Individual Prestigious Summer Camps

Figure 1.-- This is a cover from a set of postcards sold at the Orlyonok camp store during 1975. I'm not sure what the Cyrillic text reads, except the text in red which of course means Orlyonok. Note the gender destinction here. The boys wears caps styled like those of the Bolshevick soldiers during the Civil War. (Click on the image to see an example.) The girls, however, wear field caps in the same color.

Theoretically the Communist Soviet system was based on equality. In reality, there was an elite composed of party officials, military officers, scientists, and others. These individuals had access to many advantages such as access to special stores, foreign travel, quality medical care, good schools, better apartments, and a variety of other advanatges. One of these was access to a number of prestigious summer camps, such as the Artek Pioneer camp in Crimea. [Martin] Another prestigious camp was Orlyonok. These camps were not only prestigious camps for the party elite. Children who showed exceptional skills also gained admitance. The camps were also showcase camps for publicity purposes. A children's book, A Journey to Artex describes many activities at the camp. Kirsten Koza in her book, Lost in Moscow, decribes her experiences at the Orlyonok camp.

Artek Camp (1925- )

One of these was access to a number of prestigious summer camps, such as the Artek Pioneer camp in Crimea. [Martin] Artk wa founded in 1925. It may have been the first Pioneer summer camp, if not it was one of the earliest. Nikita Khrushchev apparently had some role at the camp, but it is not mentioned in Khrushchev Remembers. A ajor forces behind the foundation of the Camp was Dr. Simoneiv Solovow, an associate of Lénine. They appeared to have theorized that Soviet and Communist ideals can best be implanted in youth because their minds were most maleable. They also reasoned that a camp environment where the children were away from home and their parents was an ideal location to indocrinate children. This is one of the primary difference with Scouting. The Scouting movement saw itself as a support to the family and sought to involve parents in leadership roles. The idea behind Artek was to help formulate the new Soviet man. From the beginning the camp was to also accomodate foreign children and provide them a favorable impression of the Soviet Union. A beautiful loction in the Crimea near Yalta was chosen for the camp. This is of course the most southerly location in Russia/the Ukraine and as a result has a wonderful climate. The camp is situated along the Black Sea with several kilometers of shoreline. The total area of the camp is 230 hectares.

Orlyonok Camp (1960- )

Orlyonok (Орлёнок or Eaglet) was one of the prestigious Soviet Young Pioneer camps. Since the disolution of the Soviet Union it is now operasted as a Children's Center. Soviet officials opened the camp (1960). It was part of a major program to expand the Young Pioneer summer camp program. It is located on Russia's Black Sea coast near Tuapse, Krasnodar Krai. Orlyonok was initially created for children in the Russian Soviet Republic (SFSR). It was similar in many ways to Artek, but Artek was found by the Soviet Government and Orlyonok was founded by the SFSR Government. Russia was one of 16 Soviet republics. Children who excelled in some activity (ascademics, sports, or other activities like dance and chess) could win places at the Camp. Another way of gaining entry was to be active in the Komsomol or Young Pioneer programs. The first year 520 children attended the Camp, but by the 1970s the capacity had been expanded to 17,000 children. Orlyonok was run wih a kind of military organization. Every morning started with marching, roll-call and raising the flags. As you can see it was completely co-ed at Orlyonok as it was at the other camps, more so than at American and Canadian summer camps at the time. The location and extensive facilities at Orlyonok provided for a wide range of activities. Just like at Artek there were many foreign campers at Orlyonok. The idea was to cfreate a positive impression of the Soviet Union. The uniform at Orlyonok varied over time and there were uniforms for different activities. Orlyonok declined with the disolution of the Soviet Union and the disappearance of the Yong Pioneer mopvement. There has in recent years been a renwed interest in summer camps for children. The Camp in 2004 hosted nearly 20,000 children. Since the disolution of the Soviet Union it is now operasted as a Children's Center.

Pacific Camp (19??- )

A Russian reader tells us that there was a third prestigious camp. I'm not sure what the name was. This one was also an All-Russian pioneer camp, like Orlyonok. (As opposed to an All-Union camp like Artek. It was founded after Orlyonok, but I am not sure just when. It was located near Vladivostok. [Bogdanov]


Bogdanov, Victor. E-mail message, October 4, 2005.

Crankshaw, edward and Strobe Talbott, ed. Khrushchev Remembers (Little, Brown and Company: Boston, 1970), 639p. This is not an autobiography, but Crankshaw and Talbott believe that the text is essentially Khrushchev's words even though he may not hve intended them for publication.

Koza, Kirsten. Lost in Moscow (Turnstone Press, 2005).

Martin, J. Quin. "Camping for the New Pioneers", August 16, 2001.

Russie TV. "Artek, Camp Pioneer Ukrainen of Soviet Years, 1925-2005," June 16, 2005.


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Created: 2:24 AM 9/27/2005
Last updated: 3:23 AM 10/4/2005