The Pioneer camp Artek situated in the Crimea was the most famous one, and it was next to impossible to get there as a child. It was supposed to be for the most active pioneers and the best pupils.
She was never in a pioneer camp and she never wanted to go there. But as for Artek, it was a dream of every Soviet child – it was situated in a very picturesque place, at the seaside. It was shown on TV with huge events taking place there. So it was natural that she asked her parents if they could find out if she was eligible: at school she had only excellent grades, though she was not active as a pioneer. In the summer of 1967, her father said that it was possible to join a group of other 4 schoolchildren who were going to Artek from her hometown. She was very excited, full of expectations. Besides Artek, there was also a trip by train without parents! She was excited.
She came back very disillusioned. The first disappointment was the train: she did not expect it to be so dirty, the dirtiest place being the toilet.
The next disappointment was that she had made friends with 2 other girls from the group, but when they arrived, she was not appointed to the same camp group with them. Moreover, she found herself in a camp group (called in fact detachment) in which she was the oldest. She was 12, the rest were 11 and even 10! For her it was not interesting to discuss anything with children who were so young.
The camp activities were not the kind she expected at all. They wore uniforms all the time, had a strict schedule from early morning, whenever they went anywhere, they were marching, often singing pioneer songs.
One day their Pioneer Leader said that there was a foreign delegation visiting Artek, and they were supposed to participate in the meeting. They were warned that if the guests offered them anything, not to accept, since the gift may be poisoned. She was excited as she had never seen foreigners before, and she expected it would be very interesting to meet them. But she remembered little of the meeting (there was just some concert), as they did not communicate, there was just a group of elderly people. At the end of the meeting, the foreign delegation went to the bus, and before the doors closed, one of them threw out 2 colorful packs which looked like packs of candies. The Pioneer Leader caught the packs, told the children that the candy was sure to be poisoned, and assured the children that she was going to throw the candy away. She never believed these words! She was absolutely convinced that the Pioneer Leader took the candy for herself!