Community ACTion Ukrainian Style (CACTUS) Summer Camp

The Problem

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.

Plan of Action

In September 2012, the four CACTUS Directors (two Ukrainians and two Americans) began meeting weekly to discuss CACTUS’13. In January 2013, the American Directors met weekly to plan and organize the one-day Workshop in English Language and Leadership (WELL) Seminars. The final curriculum and organization was completed by February, and the first seminar held in March. The WELL Directors and other trained volunteers will have held fifteen seminars and have educated at least seven hundred Ukrainian teenagers by May 11th. Starting in February through June, the CACTUS Directors will write the curriculum for the Project Development and Team Time classes for the summer Forum. In April and May, they will accept participant and staff applications for the Forum and send out seventy participant acceptance letters and twenty-five staff acceptance letters in June. Through May and June, accommodations and food packages will be located and reserved for the camp. During this time, the twenty-five staff members will write drafts and completed versions of their lesson plans. These will include courses like Spanish , Healthy Lifestyles, World Religions, Journalism, Photography, Media Literacy, and Poetry. The camp will take place from July 22nd through August 1st in Ternopil, Ukraine. In late August and September, the seventy participants will write their project proposals and send these to the Directors. Project and grant applications will also be approved at this time. The community service projects will take place in September and October followed by participants’ project reports in November.

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