In Soviet life, as well as many of its artistic incarnations in film and literature, children didn’t stay children. They matured and learned about life in three places: school, the playground, and Pioneer camp. There are many Hollywood movies about first love and rivalries at school. Scenes on the playground are probably a familiar sight, too. But Pioneer camp is something you’ll only see in Soviet reality. That’s why we’ve chosen to talk more about Pioneer movies.

The children’s’ world is a version of the adult world, but in miniature. Kids copy adults’ behavior and pretend out adult situations. A great example of this is William Golding’s utopia “Lord of the Flies”. But the world of children within the confines of Pioneer camp was utopia in a square, a model cast of the country as a whole. Everyone here was equal. There’s no need to worry about food, clothes, or bed sheets. Everything was taken care of. Camp was the most democratic place in the Soviet world. At camp, they tried to teach Pioneers self-governance, so not even the adults had full control: they could always be deceived, ignored or forced to play by the kids’ rules.

The rituals of lining up and standing in formation with a red flag and neckties, their uniforms, and confused public discussions of current events that they ran themselves gave kids a sense of seriousness and importance as a part of something bigger, of belonging to the common good.

Read more about summer camps!

Watch previous issues of Cinematryoshka!