• Women & Gender
  • Youth
  • Ukraine
This project is led by Ty Smith, a Volunteer from Washington

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Camp MASCOT (My Artistic Summer Camp of Teamwork) is a 7-day English-speaking and project development camp for Ukrainian youth, and will take place in western Ukraine. The project seeks to organize 70 Ukrainians aged 13-20 from all over the country regardless of their social, religion, economical or gender status. Camp MASCOT is a program that provides a unique opportunity for campers to develop and embolden their individual critical thinking, project development and active citizenry, while focusing on developing knowledge around social and global subjects including gender equality, stereotypes and human trafficking, which are especially apparent issues in Ukraine.

Camp MASCOT will create an environment fostered by experienced mentors where Ukrainian youth can learn and implement a practiced project development process through a collaborative community project in western Ukraine. Inherently, the processes of project design include a development of creative problem solving, experience in negotiating and exchanging cross-cultural opinions, recognizing gender stereotypes and biases in our speech and actions, and English language development in an inclusive environment. The camp is planned with a Ukrainian youth organization to create an inclusive gender environment appropriate to Ukrainian culture, all the while transferring large scale project planning and organizational skills to involved youth at the organization.

This project contributes to the development of an informed and empowered citizenry, who are invested in their country's future and equipped with tools for effective, democratic progress rooted in equal opportunity regardless of gender. Campers will be given resources and support to carry elements of the camp to their home communities to further multiply skills and knowledge. Sharply gender stereotypes, roles and inequalities exist within Ukrainian society and workforce structure, and Camp MASCOT seeks to raise awareness and empower participants to be active in their support of equality in Ukraine.

Camp MASCOT facilitates a hierarchy of campers, junior counselors, staff and directors that requires responsibility on the level of local students to youth workers. Priorities are given to host community members for vital roles in planning and organizing the camp to involve local youth workers. Local youth workers, specifically through the Youth Center, develop and enhance their event planning skills, and have thus far developed skills in contract and grant writing and recruitment for Camp MASCOT. Youth workers from the Youth Center additionally play a dynamic role in creating the training for volunteers, which aids their future needs to foster and develop volunteers for their local projects. Local youth are given priority to start within Camp MASCOT hierarchy, and do so as junior counselors. Junior counselors have a dynamic responsibility of participating in project development lessons, while acting as a liaison between staff and camper. Traditionally these roles are given to young males, who are considered to have a more stout influence in their community. Our focus this year is empowering young women to leadership roles within their home communities, accomplished through promoting more women to junior counselor roles, where they will undergo select curriculum is focused at developing and completing projects in their home communities. This component has been a successful indicator in choosing staff for future years and encouraging future sustainability of the project within western Ukraine and in other communities within Ukraine at large.

The benefits of Camp MASCOT are designed to have the largest effect on the host community, as well as surrounding villages in the host community. Through recruiting a larger percentage of participants from the host community and the surrounding area, there will be a concentrated group of youth who will have an action group to create continued impacts from Camp MASCOT as a group. Through obtaining the Youth Center as a willing partner for this camp, local youth from the camp have access to a future partner for space and trainings, an easy burden that is hard to overcome in many communities. Additionally, the Youth Center will gain experience planning a large-scale event, planning and facilitating trainings for a large-scale event, and will be present for the entire process of executing the event. This networking opportunity ensures support for the themes of Camp MASCOT will be supported after the completion of the project.

Although Camp MASCOT is designed to have its greatest impact on the host community, there are plans in place to expand support for campers seeking to initiate their own training or mini camps in their own communities. This year, junior counselors will be chosen based on their commitment to facilitating such mini-camps or trainings in their home communities. Their efforts will be accompanied with an assigned Camp MASCOT staff for support and guidance, and will be required to be completed within a year following the end of the project. Through this initiative, we are seeking to maximize the multiplier effect of the camp to reach as many communities as possible, for it to be a staple in planning the future camp and a massive step forward toward a 100% Ukrainian designed and implemented camp.

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