"A SUMMER CAMP IN RUSSIA"
German scouts on the trip to Russia
It all started with the Baden Powell Scouts: They knew us (Solmser) and they knew the Russian Union of Scouts (RUS). So, in 1996, we had the first common trip of “St Anne’s B.P. Scout Group” of Liverpool and our group “Nachtfalken” form the Solmser Pfadfinderschaft of Laubach to meet our Russian friends at their camp near the river Vetluga. It turned out to be such a great experience, two years later, again we went to Russia.
So, no wonder, when we received a new invitation for visiting Vetluga Camp this year, we responded positively.
However, it took us more than 4 months to get the administrative show done – but finally, we received the visa in our passports, had the plane tickets and were now ready to prepare for the adventure.
A group of 7 Rovers first went to Moscow, where we’ve been awaited by two Rovers of the Russian Union of Scouts, who were our guides and translators for the next two weeks.
Sleeping in a school house, and one evening and almost the full next day we used to discover Red Square and the centre of the Russian capital city. Late in the evening, we started off by a chartered bus to Nishny Novgorod – only 420 km, but it took us more than 10 hours to reach the city. While exploring Nishny, we visited an orthodox church – thanks God we had our neckerchiefs as all our girls needed to wear scarves.
With a regional train we went eastward on the tracks of the famous Trans Siberian Railroad for about 200 km more, where we left the train on a concrete platform, that served here in the middle of nowhere as a station. Here, our Russian friends were waiting for us and we climbed an army truck, which brought us on an adventurous track to the camp near Vetluge.
350 scouts and guests from all parts of Russia were in the camp, with 2 Ukrainians and us 7 Germans being the foreign delegations. Taiga with canoes, on foot and on horse-back, excursions to typical Russian villages in this remote area, a wood-carving factory and some beautiful lakes, campfires with our Russian friends, and a lot of fun. Only thousands of hungry mosquitos and more than 35 centigrade heat made our lives a bit uncomfortable.
During the camp, we had a couple of meetings with the leaders of the Russian Union of Scouts and we found out, that they have left WOSM and were now looking for a “new roof”. So, at the end of the day, they decided to apply for membership in WFIS.
After a week in the wilderness (where even a wolf approached our tents one morning), we sadly left our friends to return by train to Nishny. Here, a boattour on the biggest European river – the Wolga was the order of the day, before we returned by Transsib to Moskow and from there by plane to Germany. The team agreed – it was one of our best scout-tours ever. And for sure, we’ll come again. Now we hope to welcome our Russian partners in Germany as soon as possible.