When traveling abroad, especially to Russia, the experience starts with the travel arrangements. I can say that the staff were very helpful in aiding me with my flight and visa process. While I did have to pay for it myself,I felt that I was being supported throughout the entire procedure.There was someone who walked me through the application via Skype and checked in on me for updates until I received it. With that said, if I were to do the process over again, I probably would have started the application earlier. When I arrived in Moscow, there was someone there to pick me up which took away the worry of having to try to get to the location of the camp by myself.
The staff at the camp are Amazing. Although many of them don't speak much English. This can make communication very difficult in certain situations and can be frustrating. However, there are those who DO speak English very well and are happy to translate for you. My co-counselors are a mix of Russian and English workers and volunteers. Most of them are between the ages of 18-25 which makes it a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere if you are in that age group. Everyone is nice and we all get along well, a necessity for a good work environment.
The work itself is challenging and rewarding. If you are looking for an international vacation don't come. We work for from about 8:00 in the morning to about 11 or 12:00 at night. As counselors we do have a few opportunities for break during the day and a couple of full days off during the three week session, but for the most part we are either with kids or planning to be with kids. The age range is from about 7-15, and the age group you get determines the type of experience you may have. With the older kids they generally know more English, but it may be harder to get them to be more engaged. The younger kids can be easily entertained for the most part with a silly face, but because they generally know less English it may be hard to communicate.
From my experience, we had a hard time with discipline of the children. Some of the kids would just walk out of our group time without asking. Others would continually play or talk over you. But after sitting down with them you can maybe come to an understanding which can improve their behavior.
The camp has a lot to offer overall for the kids and the counselors. The accommodations are really nice. From the nice Russian style rooms, the banya, to the five meals a day, you feel at home (or almost). However, there are a lot of mosquitoes and it can get very humid.
Also there is plenty to do. There are always new craft projects, a full court to play basketball or another sport, a ping pong room, trampolines. The other part of the camp is set beautifully on the countryside, a train stop away, and there the kids are able to participate in archery, knife throwing, and also be-be gun shooting. Inside there is a stage for shows, a hall that can turn into a small disco, and classrooms to hold lessons. If you are a sit in the bed on the computer person or want to talk to someone back home, there is great wifi in the camp as well.
Looking over my experience, its not perfect but overall I feel as though I have gotten a huge amount of experience with dealing with people on an international level. I have improved my Russian, my ability to communicate with children and adults, regained my confidence and basketball skills, and get to experience the culture Russia (did I mention banya!!!)