"Our mission is to assist in the reformation of Ukraine consistent with European standards, as well as to introduce democratic values and develop civil society in Ukraine."

From the Statute of
the Center for European Initiatives

07.09.11 17:09

2010 Summer Camp EXCITE a Great Success!


Camp EXCITE was held July 19-23 in a beautiful campsite near the town of Kurgen on the Psol River. The majority of the 43 high school students attending were from Sumy schools, but there were also students from Konotop, Billipellia, Kharkiv, Lebedyne, and one visiting student from Russia. Twelve Peace Corps Volunteers, three teachers from Sumy schools, three university students, and one medical nurse accompanied the participants. Students were interviewed prior to going to judge their motivation and English-speaking ability.

The students experienced tent living, swimming in the nearby river, and eating delicious hot meals cooked over an open campfire. Up at 7:00 am., the students participated in yoga or kick-boxing exercises and took turns chopping wood and helping prepare meals in the outdoor kitchen. After breakfast the students did spirited chants and activities and got prepared for the learning sessions. All sessions were taught in English, and the students responded likewise during discussion.

Peace Corps Volunteers and helpers led groups of 6-8 students in morning learning sessions on a variety of topics: Culture, Identity, Values, Human Rights, Ecology, HIV Aids, Discrimination, and Gender Stereotypes. In the afternoon, the groups, representing six countries in the European Union (Cyprus, France, Italy, Romania, Spain, and The Netherlands) simulated the EU's legislative process in resolving the societal questions of human trafficking, head and body covering, and HIV Aids. In between these sessions, the students had free time to take a dip in the river, play various games, or make friendship bracelets. After sunset, there was singing, guitar and bongo-drum playing, and the telling of ghost stories around the campfire before the “all quiet” signal at 11:00 pm. On the last night, a great variety show created by the students themselves, caused a lot of laughs and applause. Everyone went home with their individually tie-dyed t-shirt.

A special visitor came by for several hours: Peace Corps Ukraine Director, Doug Teschner and his wife, Marty. Doug lauded the PCVs, the teachers, and university helpers and said the structure and success of Camp EXCITE was the model for all such PC summer camps in Ukraine. Camp EXCITE was initiated six years ago by Peace Corps Volunteers in cooperation with the Center for European Initiatives. Since then, newly arrived Peace Corps Volunteers have continued the program, holding Camp EXCITE day-long programs for students several times a year. This is the second summer that Camp EXCITE has included a five-day, over-night camping experience. Plans are already underway for Camp EXCITE 2011.