The camp is in a summer town that was hustling and bustling with tourists from all over the country. Reminded me of Pismo Beach-- but in the hills not by the ocean.
It didn't take the kids long to spot us and our arrival spread like wild fire through out the camp. Faces we thought we may never see again suddenly appeared and we picked up where we last left off.
The camp was different than what I expected--- it was more like a boarding school-- but with a soccer field, basketball court, and swimming pool.
We saw these cute cartoon like statues everywhere.
The boys wanted to impress us with their riding skills as they all shot past us on their bikes. I counted at least six.
This is the first building we walked into. On the second floor is the cafeteria. John followed Pasha into eat lunch later in the day and was happy to see rice, meat, veggies, bread, cheese, and compote on the kids' plates.
Here is a very sweet eleven year old girl named Nastya. She has a fifteen year old sister.
Luda was happy to show me where her and her friends sleep.
Luda introduced me to her friend Oksana who is only eleven years old. She too has an incredibly sweet disposition and it was like Luda was advocating for her.
Out in the halls of where the older kids sleep is where the kids hang out during the day. My heart broke to see the interaction going on between these kids. Too much skin, sitting too close, inappropriate language, and the smell of cigarettes on the boys' breath. I was not shocked to see this-- but it was hard to not feel helpless. Just a few minutes earlier when I had first seen Luda, I thought her shorts were a little to low on her hips so I walked up to her and picked them up and gave her the "you should know better and I care about you so this why I picked them up" look. With her, I feel comfortable doing so having spent numerous days with her at the Internat-- but with these strange kids from other Internats, I felt I would be overstepping my bounds. So instead I offered to take their picture and straightened out their clothes and asked them to show their teeth when they smiled. It broke the ice and I got them to reposition their clothing without them really catching on.
I was surprised when we were offered water from the faucets. The kids drank it and since their was the strong smell of chlorine John and I felt it would be safe.
Here is a beautiful painting on one of the buildings in the camp.
I passed out these necklaces to a few of the girls. Our daughter Nastya had already ran off with her two friends to put hers away in her room so I took a picture of the girls that stuck around. The two girls in black are sisters ages 11 and 15.
Luba seemed sad today. Rachel said it was because her tooth hurt. I am not so sure. For some reason I got the sense that she realized what she was missing by not having a family and my heart ached for her in ways I wish it didn't.
Pasha is loving our attention. He always wants to be around us and especially loves having a Papa. John said he saw Pasha smile bigger than ever when they went on a walk and John asked to hold Pasha's hand and then began singing in Russian something like, "Ya Lyblu Pasha! Eta Musica Fantastica!" John kept singing it louder and louder and got the other kids to join in to. Pasha loved it!
When it was time for lunch, the caretakers would march the kids to the cafeteria while singing a song. It was fun to watch. Even the older kids did it to.
Doesn't you know who look too cool for school? When it was time to go, Caleb gave his glasses to one of the older boys. It was a very nice gesture considering that Caleb loves those glasses. But Caleb also knew that it probably wasn't as much as the boy would love them.
On the drive out of the town, we passed this building. I thought it was cool.