Russians have few reservations about anything. They just jump in and have fun, which is very different in American culture.
The first day we got to camp, we started playing some games, singing some songs and dancing. In an American camp, you would be lucky to get 50% participation in some of those activities, especially on the first day. And it wouldn’t be passionate.
But Russians just jumped in and enjoyed it! “Russians just like to have fun,” one of the students said. “We just do it.”
We taught them how to do the Cupid Shuffle, a very popular line dance, and we were just going to show them in front of the group. We didn’t expect them to jump in.
One minute into the song, everyone in the room was cramped onto the stage doing the Cupid Shuffle together. They were dancing, smiling and laughing. They didn’t care if they weren’t good dancers or if they looked silly. They just had fun without reservations. Don’t Worry. Have Fun.
Students dancing outside during free time.
During free time one day, we got a big futbol game together and almost the whole camp was involved. There were over 20 players and almost 20 people watching. It was pretty incredible to see the unity, especially during an event that wasn’t organized. This sort of unity would seldom happen in America when you can choose what to do.
We put on some basketball jerseys that they brought, some almost too tight to wear others hanging down to our knees. But it didn’t matter. We just wanted to play.
Throughout the game, people stayed involved and the fans kept cheering. Even though the quality of futbol wasn’t great, the students were full of passion, energy and fun. It didn’t matter if they were good or not.
Our group playing volleyball on another free day.
But by far the most surprising thing was our skits. I’ve been in camps or school activities where we have to do skits. It never ends well. It’s awkward, nobody wants to get involved and everyone just acts like they’re too cool to do anything. But really, they’re afraid to look silly or to be the kid that likes drama.
It wasn’t the case with my skit group. Everyone was involved and added value to the skit. We had dancers, singers, actors, mimes, videographers — the talent was unmatched by any group I’ve ever been a part of.
The result was a wonderful performance about a puddle who wanted to become an ocean. We included the audience, added humor, used jokes from camp, made a creative storyline and even wrote an original song. I was so proud of my group, their creative genius and their willingness to be involved. They weren’t worried. They had fun!
Our skit group gathered together for a selfie.
So many things that we did this week wouldn’t have been possible in America. It wouldn’t have been successful. It wouldn’t have been as fun. It reminded me that our preoccupation with our reputation and what people think about us so often cripples us and robs our joy.
We made the camp theme “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” but the Russians lived it out.
Because silly group pictures are just so much more fun!