Bainbridge's Camp Siberia looks to move program to Kaluga

Camp Siberia will return in a new location, officials with the nonprofit announced this week.

After taking the last group of Camp Siberia counselors to Novosibirsk in the summer of 2011, Camp Siberia, a Bainbridge Island-based nonprofit, has spent the last year evaluating a new location that offers the same life-changing opportunity for Bainbridge youth to personally contribute to bettering the lives of Russian orphans.

Dana Thompson, program development director for Camp Siberia, said the program will shift to the Kitezh Children’s Community, a foster community for Russian orphans, located approximately 300 kilometers south of Moscow in the Kaluga region.

Established in 1992, Kitezh Children’s Community takes orphaned and abandoned children out of the Russian orphanage system and raises them in a self-contained community where they are given the opportunity to learn family and life skills.

Two representatives from the nonprofit visited this summer to evaluate a program with Kitezh.

“Those of us involved with Camp Siberia are convinced that we could not have found a more worthy place and partner to help us carry on the legacy of Camp Siberia,” Thompson said. “Kitezh is an organization that shares the Camp Siberia commitment to enriching the lives of youth everywhere, whether they are Russian orphans or Bainbridge Island high school students, and they are equally excited to give their children the opportunity to interact with American students.”

The organization’s ties with Kitezh are not new.

David Kroman, a 2005 Camp Siberia counselor, spent three months volunteering in Kitezh in the winter of 2007 after graduating from Bainbridge High, and it is partly due to his positive experience there that Camp Siberia is working to re-establish the program in the Kitezh Children’s Community.

The first group of Bainbridge High students are expected to travel to Camp Siberia-Kitezh at the end of June 2013 for a two-week exchange that involves living, playing and working alongside Russian foster children in the Russian countryside.

Camp Siberia will host an informational meeting and video presentation about the program in Kitezh at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16 at Grace Episcopal Church; BHS sophomores and juniors and their parents are invited to attend and learn more.

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