Imagine that it’s just before eight in the morning. The staff meeting over, you and your Russian co-counselor are about to get your ten-year-olds out of bed and to breakfast. You have a busy day ahead — basketball in the morning, then lunch, then an English class and hike through the woods in the afternoon, and finally a short theater skit for the evening campfire. The sky is blue. The sun is shining. You just know it’ll be a great day…
…It’s been a week since your group arrived; your step counter is hitting 25,000 daily. It was intense for the first few days especially, but you’ve found a rhythm; a nap in the mid-afternoon and tag-teaming with your partner throughout the day. The kids keep asking you to sing that song you taught them. Your Russian is improving. You speak English with the kids, but it’s mostly Russian all the other time and the extra tutoring has been great…
… It’s almost time to leave, and you can’t believe how quickly time has flown. You feel like you have known the other counselors for ages and it’s sad to say goodbye to the kids. They keep asking if you will be back and you are looking for ways to get in touch. You might even make use of that Vkontakte profile that you made for fun some time ago.
Now, that’s how we describe it. Hear about it from an intern in this video.
Your host will be the organizers of the English-language summer camp. We work with two such organizations, one near Kostroma and other near Ryazan. Run for many years, their camps are highly sought-after by parents for their small size, excellent education, and a warm atmosphere. Many campers every year are returnees from prior years.
The rhythm of the camp revolves around the children’s daily activities. You and a Russian co-counselor will supervise a group of children throughout the day — getting them out of bed, chaperoning them around, keeping them out of trouble, and cheerleading for them throughout. It’s quite fun, and both the kids and the counselors can get rather competitive.
You will live in a dormitory at the camp together with other counselors, Russian and foreign. The rooms are split up by gender, with up to four people sharing a room and a bathroom. There is also a common living room, where you can relax.
The camp facilities are modern and comfortable. Basic chores like cleaning and laundry are taken care of. A small convenience shop sits close by, though you will rarely need it as meals are served several times per day at the camp cafeteria.
Camp counseling requires at least 2 semesters of university-level Russian or equivalent. Heritage speakers are also welcome. As part of the application process, we may ask you to take a short language test.
You will be hearing Russian the entire time — from the kids, at staff meetings, in the dormitory, etc. Among these, you get most practice from the day-to-day interaction with Russian counselors. They stay at the dormitory as well, and the camp organizers enforce a rule that the working language during downtime is Russian.
For that bit of extra practice, once or twice per week the camp will invite a tutor or organize a class to help you clear up anything you don’t understand. Less focused on grammar and more on language use, these sessions will help you better absorb what you see and hear.
Camp session (they last two to three weeks) do spill into the weekends. However, you will have a few full days off during your stay. During these, the camp organizes travel to nearby cities (for example, Yaroslavl and Kostroma) or other fun activities, like a trip to the banya.
Although your days will start early and end late, the intensity will vary, with some downtime in the middle of the day when you can relax. Camp counselors also generally hang out in the evenings, once the campers are in bed.
Internships take place during the summer, with start dates at roughly two-week intervals in May, June, and July. The application will ask you for your travel preferences. We will aim to get you started as close to your preferred start date as we can.
For logistical reasons, we require at least 4 weeks of participation. The maximum amount of time you can stay for a summer internship is 12 weeks.
We work with two camps — one in a small town about an hour’s drive from Kostroma and the other near Ryazan. Read more on the locations page. Getting there is easy. Once you are accepted into the program, we will send you instructions on what city/airport you need to fly to and when. Our representative will meet you there.
For a list of program fees for the different internship types and other estimated costs you may incur, see the costs page
Fill out the application on the apply page. The application will ask you questions about your preferences for the type of work you want to do and the timing of your travel.