Now held for the seventh time, this year’s traditional annual camp of the Timchenko Foundation’s Family and Children programme was called Family Tours. Each day focused on a theatrical theme, experiences, feelings and emotions. In the morning, the attendees were greeted by fairy tale characters, and masks, puppets, costumes and makeup were used in the workshops. The camp’s programme opened with a festival of family theatres, where each family performed a well-known fairy tale. And though Three Little Pigs and Repka [Turnip] were performed twice, every show turned out to be distinctive and unorthodox, reflecting the creative vision of the family.
This year nine families from Leningrad, Ryazan and Tambov Oblasts, the Republic of Adygeya and Krasnodar Krai gathered by the sea in order to get to know each other, discuss the concerns of parents and children, ask professionals for advice and relax. They had a chock-full training programme, team-building exercises and one-to-one sessions with psychologists and other professionals. Each group of children and parents was taught by subject matter experts. There were also organized family tutorials involving the entire family (for example, fairy-tale therapy).
The camp’s junior group included just five under-seven children this year. The youngest ones did creative activities, drew and played while their older brothers, sisters and parents addressed their concerns in therapy sessions.
19 professionals from all over Russia – from Ussuriysk to Moscow – came to the camp to work with grown-ups and children. They found the camp to be not only a new challenge and a proficiency evaluation but also an opportunity for professional growth, burnout prevention and networking with colleagues.
The professionals were assisted by young adult volunteers. These were foster care leavers aged 18 to 22. They assisted teachers and psychologists, arranged and co-arranged all events, and took care of administrative matters. For a second year now the Foundation has been inviting young adults to the camp and witnessing how, in the space of a week, the kids re-evaluate their values, priorities in life, how they grow up and take responsibility for their actions and those of the entire team.
Each year experts and families breathe new life into traditional events such as the Songs by the Sea musical event and sports quests, as well as offering new formats. Every subsequent camp is nothing like the previous one. This year’s innovations included an intellectual family game, Mozgoboynya [Battle of the Minds], and a dance competition, Start-in. All were impressed by Kitchen, in which families and teenagers discussed topical parenting issues with an experienced psychologist and exchanged lifehacks in an informal atmosphere while making desserts. The discussion proved very fruitful because it did not involve parents and children from one and the same family, which put the participants at ease and made for a frank dialogue.
The camp gives foster families an informal setting to rethink their relationships with their children, adjust their views on and approaches to some matters, pay closer attention to their fast-growing children and, if need be, seek one-to-one advice. The camp is sometimes the very place where parents find «their» psychologist. Families comment that a stay at the camp is an effective way to prevent a burnout. The experience makes it possible to look at the children from a different angle, compare notes with other families and find new fellow enthusiasts.