Sports, Festivals, Creativity on the Karelian Isthmus - A Summer In Yagodnoe

Are you tired of the city and constantly being on the computer? Then it's time for a session at the Yagodnoe camp! At the Yagodnoe Sports Camp, ITMO students and staff will immerse in sports, spend an unforgettable time contemplating the mesmerizing nature of the Karelian Isthmus, sing songs at the campfire, hike and do lots of other great things. What's more, this year Yagodnoe has been renovated: new housing and canteen were built on the shore of the Berestovoye lake; the sports infrastructure has been improved, as well. Also, one can now rent housing even for a single day there.

Yagodnoe is not some place where guests just lie in hammocks and stare mindlessly at the sky. The time one spends in Yagodnoe is intense: students do sports and participate in various events, as there's no better rest than a change of activity. In the morning, the students spend an hour doing some useful work for the Center, then they do sports, and after supper there're musical and other entertainment events.

This year, Yagodnoe will be greeting its guests for the 58th time. The Center's founder, WWII veteran Eduard Vladimirovich Lorgus, is still working for there. Earlier, guests could choose the sports and creative activities they wanted to participate in right on the spot; this year, the organizers ask the students to inform them of their talents and interests beforehand, so as to better organize their life.

The session's participants will play football, volleyball and badminton; among other activities offered by Yagodnoe are rock-climbing and different hiking and bicycle tours. Those who enjoy spending time in water will be provided with boats, sailboards and canoes. As usual, recreational activities at the camp will be organized by a team of qualified trainers, and the administration is always ready to answer any questions and help with whatever issue arises.

"When I was a student, I also spent time in Yagodnoe, and later my children went there as well. Those times, we were allocated to particular sports sections, and every day there were intense training sessions. I, for instance, did fencing, and we only had dancing as recreation. Now, our guests participate in sports activities for their own pleasure - they can train at their own pace, though we still conduct tournaments and contests for students. What's more, now we have lots of cultural activities and events. We work on a tight schedule, the students never have a dull moment, and even if the weather turns bad, there’s a lot to do inside," comments Marina Shekhovtseva, Yagodnoe Camp's director.

For instance, this May, Yagodnoe hosted a two-day basic combat training session: a group of students learned combat and survival skills, as well as got psychological training on how to fight to a finish. Each summer, there's the International Camp on ecological education - its participants attend seminars and study the region's ecology. Organizers of the “People Need You!” social projects conduct mini-festivals for volunteers here. At the end of each session, there are two major events – “Yagodnoe Equator” and “Neptune Day”. In future, the organizers plan to conduct sessions throughout the year, as well as launch new science sessions and short vacations on the lake shore during the academic year.

Marina Shekhovtseva shared that previously, Yagodnoe usually hosted even more students than now - up to 450. Each morning started with flag raising and morning exercises (the latter is done now as well). Yagodnoe focused mostly on sports training, and recreational activities began to be introduced only after 1995. Then, artists started to come to Yagodnoe, where they conducted different cultural events. Yagodnoe Camp had its hard times as well. In 2010, a storm tore 40% of pines on its territory by the roots, yet the camp was fully reconstructed with a lot of help from ITMO's students and staff.

Now, the camp accepts up to 200 guests at a time. To go there, one has to register and wait for a coordinator to call back. By the way, now not only ITMO's students can rent houses in Yagodnoe, but their friends can come as well! Also, now one can rent houses for a single day. 140 people have already registered for sessions in Yagodnoe; applications will be accepted till May, 22.

Marina Shekhovtseva

"Yagodnoe has a great atmosphere, the nature here is stunning, but what's most important are the people. Those who come here are active and open, they study together, rest, graduate and continue to collaborate later on; many bring their children here after they've grown up. You will never feel bored here, and coming to Yagodnoe has become a usual pasttime for many people," concludes Marina Shekhovtsova.

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