The sea for children: how to send an Arctic pupil on holiday
Recreation of the younger generation in the Arctic20 april 2023
In April, applications began for the federal Children of the Arctic programme, which offers young residents of the High North a trip to Russian resorts. All regions of the AZRF are now participating—parents of pupils in grades 5–8 can apply for a free trip for their children. Between 2023 and 2035, RUB 1.35 bn is planned to be allocated, TASS reports, and the number of participants is expected to increase gradually. About RUB 450 mn is allocated annually to pay for trips and travel. Last year, Children of the Arctic made it possible for 9,600 children to spend their holidays at sea.
How does it work?
Life in the Arctic regions of our country is quite harsh, a fact that is also recognised at the legislative level. Hence the 'northern' allowances and earlier retirement for the military, rescue workers and a number of other professions. Children living in the Arctic region are also entitled to benefits. The main one is a recreation during the summer holidays. Prior to 2019, the regions dealt with this issue on their own, to the best of their ability. But then the head of Yakutia, Aysen Nikolaev, came forward at the 9th International Forum The Arctic: Present and Future with an initiative to scale up the republican programme, which sent children to our country's seaside resorts, to the federal level. It also includes the development of nomadic education and the publication of textbooks in national languages.
This is how the federal Children of the Arctic programme was born, covering all of Russia's Arctic regions this year. Pupils in grades 5 to 8 are sent to sanatoriums and resorts in Krasnodar Territory, the Crimea, Sevastopol, Kabardino-Balkaria and Primorye. Each shift lasts 21 days and the number of shifts is increasing little by little. For example, in 2022, the children of Arkhangelsk Region will receive five shifts, and this year ten are already planned — four in the Zhemchuzhina sanatorium in Anapa and six in Sochi in the Romashka boarding house (children's camp 'Madagascar Island'). Every year, more and more resorts participate in the programme, allowing the number of children admitted to the programme to increase significantly.
It's essentially a reincarnation of Soviet Artek—sea, sun, counsellors and general recuperation through vitamin B and good company. In addition, before each shift, the children undergo a medical examination, which allows them to choose the most suitable recreational scheme. However, don't expect an obligatory list of therapeutic procedures—rather, it will be a general recommendation on the level of physical activity and time spent in the sun.
The programmes have a defined procedure for the provision of services. Any resident of the Arctic region may apply no more than once per calendar year on a waiting list: whoever applies first will be considered first. This is the fundamental difference between the Children of the Arctic programme and regional initiatives, the latter being designed primarily for certain categories of people. Thus, in 2023, the Murmansk Regional Government will give priority to children of mobilised citizens and SMO volunteers, orphans, children with disabilities and families in difficult circumstances. Other categories of northerners can expect to be reimbursed mainly for 75% of the cost of a child's trip voucher.
Parents can submit documents through multifunctional public services centres, social security departments and the local Ministry of Labour, and in some regions also through the Gosuslugi portal (Arkhangelsk Region has excelled in digitisation). Thanks to the programme's federal status and increased funding, the number of participants is growing and free trips for young northerners are becoming more and more accessible. By the way, cost optimisation also helps. Last year, for example, children were sent to camps by train instead of by plane, saving 2,000 extra trip vouchers.
What if there weren't enough vouchers?
Unfortunately, even the most ambitious federal programme cannot yet reach all children in the Arctic regions at the same time. However, this is not a reason to despair, as the constituent entities of the AZRF have maintained their own parental assistance programmes. For example, in the Arkhangelsk Region, there is a regional programme to subsidise the purchase of a trip to a children's camp from the regional budget. It can also be used in April—it reimburses 100% of a child's holiday costs.
Each region also organises recreation for children in its own territory. These can be separate children's camps or groups within educational institutions. In the Murmansk Region, for example, this year, 6,760 children planned to participate in such programmes, for which RUB 56.5 mn have been allocated. Additionally, nature hikes, quests, excursions and other free activities are organised during the summer holidays. All you need to do is apply to your local municipality to participate.
Read more "Murmansk Region Is Good for Year-Round Recreation" Interview with Aleksandr Yeliseyev, Chairman of Murmansk Region's Tourism Committee