Camp Siberia to end soon, but memories will live on | Our Opinion | Oct. 8

Unfortunately, Camp Siberia, the island-based nonprofit that has had a team of local students working as summer counselors for the last 10 years in a remote village in Siberia, will hold its final camp next July.

The organization will continue its fundraising efforts to provide scholarships for Russian orphans, but for a variety of reasons, including the fact Russia’s foster care/orphanage system is undergoing many changes, the camp segment of the program will conclude after the July 2011 event.

Since the program began a decade ago, 200 local high school students have participated in the program, which requires a year-long preparation in community service and team building before the team of students travels to Novosibirsk, Russia.

The opportunity to experience new cultures is especially important for teens since their openness to change at that time in their lives is most profound. Following are two testimonies that speak for themselves.

“Like all counselors who are blessed with the experience to be a part of Camp Siberia, I went to Russia thinking that my life would be changed, as was promised to me by the stories of others. But I had no idea that that ‘life changing’ experience would change my views, change my life, change my heart.

“From Camp Siberia, and my wonderful, troubled 13-year-old Vanya, came my first encounter with the pain that comes with love. And from my crazy, beautiful 13-year-old Natasha, came the experience of the joy that has an equal share in all that is love. For Camp Siberia, aside from being everything else that it is, and it is everything to me, is love.”

– Lizzie Scott

“This program has completely changed my life thus far. Years have passed, yet I still reflect on those three weeks often. And every day I discover a new way in which I look at my world differently due to my time at a little house in Siberia.”

– Maggie Pool

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