Artek was not your average American Summer camp. There were 150 buildings, three medical buildings, a school, film studio Artekfilm, three swimming pools, sports stadium (7000 seats), and playgrounds for other activities. Unlike most of the young pioneer camps, Artek was a year-round camp, thanks to the climate.
Artek camp was once a hot spot and a huge treat for children in the Soviet Union. The camp was established in 1925 at the Black Sea in the town of Gurzuf. It is still around today, but has recently been on the verge of bankruptcy. According to this article from Kyiv Post the land that Artek sits on is worth a lot of money. No need to worry though: according to this blog, the Ukrainian government won’t let this happen.
According to the Ukrainian Audit Chamber, the resort’s total debt has reached $5 million. Although there are concerns about the camps closure, President Yushchenko gave the prime minister a week to deal with the situation.
The camp has recently closed down for the alleged rape of two children according to this article.
Despite the rape allegations, I do not think this should be a reflection of the camp, but rather that of a few individuals. The camp has a long standing tradition of being international, and has offered many orphans and children from poor families free vacations for good grades. Many kids arrive on a state subsidized or free basis when visiting the camp. It is not an average camp with bonfires and cabins, but an educational experience as well.
As a child, I went to a camp in Baraboo, Wisconsin and Artek as well. The difference is tremendous. At Artek we had to wear a uniform. We took tours all over Yalta and Simferopel and went swimming in the Black Sea instead of a swimming pool or lake. We did not live in cabins or tents at Artek, instead each child had there own bed in a hostel-type building. There were different bedrooms that held anywhere from 7 to 14 beds. The scenery was absolutely beautiful and the camp itself was a resort. In Wisconsin, we slept in tents for two weeks. We also picked wood and built bonfires. Camp counselors taught us how to make smores and we played capture the flag in the middle of the night. It was not like Artek in the least way, but a fun experience nonetheless.
I was also at Artek during their film festival, and many famous Ukrainian and Russian celebrities came to visit. Can you imagine Brad Pitt or Julia Roberts visiting a summer camp in the US?