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Dmitrovsky District, Russia

Young Pioneer Camp

A Marxist summer camp full of fantastical statues lies tucked away and forgotten in the forests of Moscow. 

Abandoned sometime in the late 1980s, this bizarre children’s camp now stands forgotten in a forest north of Moscow. The site is most notable for its striking decorations; oversized, grotesque sculptures of deep-sea creatures which dominate the complex.

The camp was built by the Young Pioneer Organisation, a children’s program founded by Lenin for the purposes of education and the propagation of Marxist ideology. During the height of the movement there were as many as 40,000 such camps spread across the USSR, catering to millions of young minds.

Camps were often specialised to deliver a blend of fun, games and career-specific training; there were sports camps, technical camps, geological and naturalist camps. Few such sites now remain, most of them having been torn down following the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. While it’s hard to find information about this particular camp, the aquatic theme of the decor would seem to suggest a link to marine biology and naturalism.

In addition to a giant octopus, seahorses, squid and a two-storey flounder, other sculptures depict Soviet symbols and otherworldly, fantastical creatures. One of the more bizarre installations features a child caught in the grip of some kind of deep-sea terror. In the overgrown central courtyard, meanwhile, amidst flocks of grazing sheep there stands a memorial bust of Lenin himself. 

The location of this camp makes it rather difficult to find, tucked away on an unmarked road which cuts through the heart of a dense forest. If you’re planning to visit, then you should consider yourself warned – the local “security” doesn’t take kindly to tourists.

[Adapted with permission from an original report by Darmon Richter. For more images and info, visit The Bohemian Blog]

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