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July, 2019
Volume 45, Number 2
21 June 2012
Erin Edwards

Campers have fun in the healing mineral waters of the Nunisi resort in central Georgia.
(photo: Justyna Mielnikiewicz)

Yesterday marked the summer solstice. Temperatures are rising and summer camps are in session! Summer camp can be an enriching experience for children. When schools close their doors for summer break, summer camp provides an opportunity for fun and learning outside school. Over the years, CNEWA has sponsored many summer camps in the regions we serve, such as the camps in the Caucasus which provide much more than summer fun:

For all the campers, Samta Park represents a soothing escape from their hardscrabble lives in Tbilisi. Many have suffered severe psychological or physical traumas. Lela Mezrishvili, 13, has scars all over her body, but several sessions in the sanitarium’s waters have allowed her to extend her arm fully for the first time in years.

“Many of the children come from very troubled families — very poor,” said Zizi Inadze, a staff member who grew up on the streets and, like Mr. Biganashvili, received assistance from Caritas. “Some had never seen fish or butter before, and even others never had seen a toilet. I was so shocked to see kids using a bucket, I couldn’t believe it.”

The camps of Sister Arousiag Sajonian and Father Witold Szulczynski are different in structure, but their aim is the same. They offer disadvantaged children a quintessential childhood experience that is normally available only to the more privileged. And it is a testament to the camps’ success that so many former campers have returned, as adults, to help educate the next generation.

A mere two carefree weeks can have an outsized impact on the children’s lives, said Ms. Inadze, the former street child who now works for Caritas.

“Here at the camps, they learn to open up and share a sense of warmth. They receive love and attention.”

For more, read Kid’s Camps in the Caucasus in the November 2007 issue of ONE.

Tags: CNEWA Caritas Caucasus