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Pioneer tradition thrives

THERE is a long tradition of summer camps in Slovakia. Under Communism children went away to the countryside each year as Pioneers. After a lull following the Velvet Revolution and the collapse of the Pioneer Organization, the practice is back in vogue, though the aims and ideals of today's summer camps are somewhat different.

THERE is a long tradition of summer camps in Slovakia. Under Communism children went away to the countryside each year as Pioneers. After a lull following the Velvet Revolution and the collapse of the Pioneer Organization, the practice is back in vogue, though the aims and ideals of today's summer camps are somewhat different.

In fact, summer camps are now so popular that if you haven't yet booked your child a place you might find it difficult to do so. If you are lucky enough to find one though, it may be just the thing for those long summer months.

"A camp can solve many of the problems during the vacation. I cannot leave my daughter just on the streets during the day. I know the people in the camp will look after her; she'll get lunch and she'll have a good time," Ján Tkáč, father of a 13-year old daughter, told The Slovak Spectator.

However, he emphasized that when choosing a camp he almost always goes by the recommendation of colleagues or friends. Reliability plays a crucial role.

Prices for summer camps range, and depend on the length of stay, the type, the location, and other factors. In general, day summer camps, where the children spend the whole day at the camp but go home to sleep, range from Sk600 to Sk750 (€16 to €19) for four to six days. The day camps sometimes have a focus on a specific activity, such as sports, painting, computers or sailing.

Prices for camps where children stay at night range from Sk4,000 to Sk6,000 (€104 to €156) for about 10 days. Accommodation, transport and food are included in the price. In most of them the children go on tours, do sports, dance and take part in various competitive activities.

The number of organizations running summer camps is rising and parents have lots to choose from. However, demand is high and the market would be able to absorb a higher number.

František Rožník from the Centre for Leisure in Bratislava said that this year they have had to organize extra busses to cope with the demand. "It is high time to enrol the children, if you are interested."

A representative of CK Elán from Košice said: "There are some free places but they are quickly filling up. The most attractive camps are already full".

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