Some of our work takes place in ex-soviet pioneer youth camps. Our camp Elama is on the grounds of an old pioneer camp. Here is an article about the Young Pioneers, the soviet youth organization:
Young Pioneer organization of the Soviet Union
The Young Pioneer Organization of the Soviet Union, also Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization was a mass youth organization of the USSR for children of age 10–15 in the Soviet Union between 1922 and 1991.
After the October Revolution of 1917, some Scouts took the Bolsheviks’ side, which would later lead to the establishment of ideologically altered Scoutlike organizations, such as ЮК (Юные Коммунисты, or young communists; pronounced as yook) and others.
Those Scouts who did not wish to accept the new Soviet system either left Russia for good (like Oleg Pantyukhov and others) or went underground.
However, clandestine Scouting did not last long. Komsomol persistently fought with the remnants of the Scout movement. Between 1918 and 1920, the second, third, and fourth All-Russian Congresses of the Russian Union of the Communist Youth (Российский коммунистический союз молодёжи, or Rossiyski kommunisticheskiy soyuz molodyozhi) decided to eradicate the Scout movement and create an organization of the communist type, that would take Soviet youth under its umbrella.
On behalf of the soviet government Nadezhda Krupskaya (Vladimir Lenin‘s wife) was one of the main contributors to the cause of the Pioneer movement. In 1922, she wrote an essay called Russian Union of the Communist Youth and boy-Scoutism. However, it was the remaining scoutmasters themselves, like Innokentiy Zhukov and some others around Nikolaj Fatyanov’s “Brothers of the fire”, who introduced the name “pioneer” and convinced the Komsomol to keep the scout’s motto “Be prepared! – Always prepared!”
Just some days before the Komsomol conference the Moscow scoutmasters adopted a “Declaration of the scoutmasters of Moscow concerning the question of the formation of a children’s movement in the RSFSR” on May 13, 1922. Thereby they suggested to use the system scouting as a foundation of the new communist organisation, and to name it “Young pioneers”.
Young Pioneers’ Palace (perhaps not as well decorated as the one in Sormovo) could be found in most Soviet cities
The main contribution of the scoutmasters was the introduction of the new expression system scouting into the discourse on communist children’s and youth organisations. By doing so they avoided the dissolution of the scout organisation as it would happen sooner or later to any organisation opposed to the Komsomol.
On May 19, 1922 the second All-Russian Komsomol Conference adopted the scoutmasters’ suggestions and decided to “work on the question of a children’s movement by using the re-organized system of scouting.” During the following years many of the remaining former scoutmasters founded pioneer groups and educated future pioneer leaders.
May 19, 1922 was later on considered the birthday of the All-Union Pioneer Organization. By October 1922 pioneer units were united to form an organization Spartak Young Pioneers, which was named after V. I. Lenin by a decision of the Central Committee of Komsomol of January 21, 1924. Since March 1926 it bore the name Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization.
By the middle of 1923 it had 75,000 members. Among other activities, Young Pioneer units, helped by Komsomol, played a great role in the eradication of illiteracy (Likbez policy) since 1923. Membership was at 161,000 in the beginning of 1924, 2 million in 1926, 13.9 million in 1940, and 25 million in 1974. Many Young Pioneer Palaces were built, which served as community centers for the children, with rooms dedicated to various clubs, such as crafts or sports. Thousands of Young Pioneer camps were set up where children went during summer vacation and winter holidays. All of them were free of charge, sponsored by the government and Trade Unions.
Its main grouping of members until 1942 was the “Young Pioneer detachment,” which then typically consisted of children belonging to the same secondary school. From 1942 to October 1990 (when the organization was broken up) the “detachment” was made up of children belonging to the same class within a school, while a school was referred to as a “Young Pioneer group.”
There was also an age-scale structure: children of 10–11 years were called Young Pioneers of the first stage; 11–12 years were Young Pioneers of the second stage; 13–15 years were Young Pioneers of the third stage. Young Pioneers of 15 years could join Komsomol, with a recommendation from their Young Pioneer group.
The main governing body was the Central Soviet of the Young Pioneer organization of the Soviet Union, which worked under leadership of the main governing body of Komsomol. Its official newspaper was Pionerskaya Pravda.
Main goals and requirements of membership
The main goals and duties of Young Pioneers and requirements of membership were specified by the Regulations of the Young Pioneer organization of the Soviet Union; by the Solemn Promise (given by each Young Pioneer joining the organization); by the Rules of the Young Pioneers; and by the Young Pioneer Motto, всегда готов! (vsegda gotov!, “Always Ready!”). There were two major revisions of them: in 1967 and 1986.
Although membership was theoretically optional, almost all the children in the Soviet Union belonged to the organization; it was a natural part of growing up.
Symbols, attributes, rituals and traditions
The main symbols of Young Pioneers were the red banner, flag, Young Pioneer’s red tie, the badge. Attributes: the bugle, the drum, the uniform (with badges of rank). Some of rituals were: salute, Young Pioneer parade, banner bearing, raising of the flag. Most common traditions were the Young Pioneers rally (usually round a bonfire) and festivals.
Young Pioneer songs were usually sung at various Young Pioneer meetings, in Young Pioneer camps, and at schools. One of the earliest and the most popular song was the Young Pioneer March. It was written in 1922 by Aleksandr Zharov (music by Sergei Dyoshkin) and was sometimes called The Anthem of Young Pioneers. There were a great many other songs, here are some very popular ones:
- Accepting you into Young Pioneers (music by Aleksandra Pakhmutova, lyrics by N.Dobronravov)
- Song about the first Young Pioneer detachment (A.Dolukhanian, S.Runge)
- Our land (Dmitry Kabalevsky, A.Prishelets)
- Gaidar is marching first (Aleksandra Pakhmutova, N.Dobronravov)
- The eaglet (V.Bely, Ya. Shvedov)
- The little joyful drummer (L. Schwarz, Bulat Okudzhava)
- March of Young Pioneer groups (N.Gubar’kov, G. Khodosov)
- May there always be sunshine (A.Ostrovsky, L.Oshanin)
The Young Pioneers who excelled in academic study, work, sports or social activity were elected to the self-governing institutions, were sent as delegates to the Young Pioneers gatherings (including All-Union ones). The most notable were recognized in the organization’s Book of Honor. During World War II, many Young Pioneers fought against Nazis in partisan detachments, which existed near their homes on the territories occupied by Nazi Germany. Nearly 30,000 of them were awarded various orders and medals; 4 Young Pioneers became Heroes of the Soviet Union. One of the famous young pioneer All-Union camps was “Artek” located in Crimea, Ukraine. The camp was located on the top of the mountain “A-yu-dahg” which means “Bear’s Mountain”. Only the best students were selected to go there based on their grades and leadership. Young communists from other countries were welcome as well.