The CACTUS camp seeks to provide a cadre of well-trained, dedicated, and excited group of globally aware young people to help shape the future of the young Ukraine through education of project design and management. The motto of CACTUS is “Hago un Cambio,” or, “Make a Change.” The first goal of the CACTUS program is that Ukrainian youth will become more civically and socially engaged in their communities. Ukrainian teenagers are very rarely exposed to the idea that they are qualified or able to change their own lives, community, or country for the better and this lack creates a necessity for the means in which to inspire and educate these teenagers about how any small change, even just cleaning up a city park, can create a big difference.
The second goal of the camp is that Ukrainian youth will gain teamwork and leadership skills needed to problem solve, lead their peers, and work towards a common goal as part of a team as well have advanced their professional and colloquial English speaking skills. The all-English CACTUS Camp addresses this need both through the spring WELL Seminars and summer camp. They provide the tools, knowledge, and hands-on experience that the youth of today so desperately need. Once the summer camp has ended in August 2013, the seventy participants, formed into twenty small groups, will implement small service projects planned during the camp throughout the country, thereby extending the realm of positively affected communities. They will address needs within those communities such as education about the HIV/AIDS pandemic or the human trafficking problem in Ukraine, garbage removal from public places, animal rights, volunteering groups, and so on. Even if these projects are deemed "unsuccessful", participants will have the knowledge and skill base to tweak their planning and implementation processes aided by the large network of CACTUS alumni and former staff members.
The third goal of the camp is that at least five Ukrainians will develop project design skills and managerial skills specific to organizing summer camps. Since its inception in 2009, the CACTUS program has been directed and implemented by a team made up of equal parts Ukrainian volunteers and international volunteers. It is the American Directors' hope that soon we may pass the camp entirely over to an experienced team of young Ukrainian leaders and continuing the process of sustainability.