Summer Camp

UCARE has been participating in summer camps for orphans in Ukraine since 1995. Many of our members have sacrificed their summer vacation time to work as counselors, teachers, doctors and nurses at camp in Vorohta, Ukraine.

The first camp was held in 1996, and had only thirty children participating. More recent camps have had between 350 and 450 children (most aged 12-18) "relaxing" in the Carpathian mountains. The camps have been cosponsored by Пиятелі Дітей / Priyateli Ditey (Friends of Children) of Ukraine and Help Us Help the Children, a special project of the Canadian Children of Chernobyl Fund. UCARE has helped both with funding and personnel.

You can read what I wrote to my friends in a “Camp Letter” in 2000 here.

Beginning in 2006 we plan to run several camps of our own.

Our first was a camp in Nikita, near Yalta, Crimea. We were been offered full use of a small facility by Triumph of the Heart, a Catholic charity organization. Mother Maria House houses about thirty people. We ran two camps with twenty orphans of two weeks each. The camps were specialty camps, concentrating on the arts (both traditional and fine), but there was swimming and lots of excursions, too.  And, of course, tI taught pysanky at the first one.

We are also planning a two week cruise on the Dnieper River for approximately 200 kids. The captain/owner of the cruise ship was an orphan himself, and wants to help other orphans. The cruise will occur in early autumn (after the end of the regular cruising season). Volunteers will be needed to help organize a daily program (which will include excursions to ports of call) and to interact with the kids.

For more information about UCARE Camps, visit our web page here.

My Involvement

Most of the years I have gone to camp I have taught the children about health, first aid and AIDS prevention (Ukraine has a very high rate of AIDS, the highest in Europe, with a prevalence of about 1% HIV infection).  I have also worked as the camp doctor, treating colds, coughs, runny noses, diarrhea, and all sorts of strains and sprains.  I’ve even done a bit of stitching.

Three times now I have gotten to teach pysankarstvo (pysanka making).  Amazingly, while every Ukrainian-American child I have ever met knows how to create pysanky, and has done it many times, most Ukrainian children know little to nothing about it, and have never made a pysanka.  In Soviet times, pysanky were deemed to be “religious” in nature, and were banned.  Only now, in the post-Soviet era, is the art being revived.  I truly enjoy teaching pysanky, and look forward to doing so again this year.,  


I’ve taken literally thousands of photos at the nine camps (so far) that I’ve attended, including portraits of all the children at our camp.  The last three camps have been digital, and I have been the official camp photographer.  With the help of the computer geek and his minions, we have put together an official camp photo CD in 2004-5, and the orphans have sold it to raise money (as part of the business maysternya).

I will post some of them here on the site.  (We took over 5000 at the last camp.  Posting them all would be impossible!)  As I do, underlined links will appear.




Mostly scanned photos from camps gone by, and some writing.  See links in the toolbar above.  I have lots more photos and, with luck and patience, may get around to scanning them in some day.


My first digital camp.  Our Camp’s theme was “Around the World,” and each day the children learned about a new land and a new culture.

It was a summer of much rain. Our theme was “Our Tenth Camp,” and  each day we relived the theme of a previous camp.

                        Old Health Posters

                        New Health Posters (2005)


Our first UCARE camp. Our theme was “We are young, and the world is open to us.” The camp was held in Nikita, Crimea.  It was sunny and hot; we learned about arts and health and our own spirituality, and visited interesting and exotic places.


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