After the first crazy lesson, I decided to split the group; they quickly learned the fingering and I wrote some simple melodies on a large piece of paper and hung it on the wall, and said to them; “work on it.”
The youngest guys were put in a different area of the dining room where we tried to be a bit more deliberate focusing on the notes, C, G and E for a good while. I placed some sticks of chewing gum on the table. They were promised a reward if they settled down and ‘worked’ diligently for 30 minutes – my teacher training paid off!
The older ones worked well, progressing and wanting new melodies each day as I wrote for dear life. Once I felt comfortable that Costia, Sacha and Aliosja were capable of playing a melody, I decided we should have some fun. So we went off to the dining room and I asked the girls to stand in a circle and taught them two Swedish dances.
Theory classes and other music instruction
We conducted theory instruction on three levels every day. In the group I was responsible for, we were privileged to have as the interpreter a young lady, Ira, who was also a musician. This made things simpler. My theory group was amazing. They were quiet and listened well, had good knowledge and sang very well! (Secretly, in my mind I wished that I could “keep” them as my choir…) In addition, we found some, not-the-best quality, guitars in a music store in Moscow. They would serve our purpose and we purchased them all, 17 in total. There was great interest in playing the guitar, and I worked with these individuals each day. At first it was Amazing Grace in D chord, which went very well, after a long week of practice. And then we composed something in E, a melody which we all hummed and it sounded really Russian.
With a borrowed bass guitar we created a bass guitar class for four boys. They were very keen and received instruction from Lars Ljungholm (son of the Captains) and partly from me in my spare time, when I went through the songs. Unfortunately, three of these boys were sent home because of misbehavior, so there was Roma. We worked together with private lessons every day.
We thought we could perhaps lose a little weight during this camp period! During the Desert Storm War the US government shipped food to their soldiers via an airport base in Rome. The war ended abruptly and arrangements were made by Captain Ljungholm with the US ambassador in Moscow to handle all excess food and other humanitarian aid airlifted to Moscow, several thousand tons. Some of it was earmarked Camp Victory! This meant we all ate well and there was plenty of food. A porridge-start in the morning, lunch, dinner and snacks in the evening. The kitchen staff consisted of Salvation Army soldiers, a grandmother and mother, all under Captain Ljungholm’s wife’s watchful eye and guiding hand.
There were many small long-haired ‘trolls’ in the camp. It eventually became so that I established a barber-shop outside my cabin, where I cut the hair of some 15-20 children and adults per day. It also provided opportunity to bond. They talked, albeit tentatively, but even so, communicating brought us all closer to each other.
Conclusion and Camp Fires
Once the last weekend came around and we were assembled for the last time before the morning service, it felt a little melancholy, of course, to attempt to say goodbye to everyone.
On our arrival two weeks earlier the first shock we experienced was when we first met the children, and realized that they were very poor, had tattered clothes and broken shoes, and were uncertain about what to expect at camp. One felt at one with the children and their leaders at once; empathy. During the second week we had ‘found’ each other and where ever I went someone snuck their tiny hand in mine- older or younger children, or they’d wrap an arm around me as they said my name.
Saturday's last campfire was one long compilation of what had taken place during camp. All the songs were sung again, skits replayed, and there was a closing chorus and prayer before we all strolled back to our cabins for the last time.
Sunday - Return to Moscow Central Corps
Salvation Army officer Major Göran Larson, and bandsmen Ove Ericsson, Jan-Erik Jonsson, Lars Cederholm and Bert Åberg had delivered 30 tons of food to Russia. It was a part of the regular food deliveries from Sweden. It provided regular opportunity for Swedish Salvation Army soldiers to visit Russia and to help with the unloading. This time there were five men who came and they included a visit to us at the camp. They came to visit the camp because we were there. Although it was lovely to see them, strangely though, we felt more Russian than Swedish. It’s an emotion that is difficult to describe.
On Sunday morning we took a unique form of travel back to the church (Moscow) corps on the ‘Raketa’, a 100 passenger hydrofoil. We then walked through the park and under the Leningradskaya Bulivar to the Metro station (subway) train and to the Park Kultury station- almost everyone in Salvation Army uniform. Many parents were waiting for their children to get a full report on their activities.
Worship was long and the farewell to our new friends felt a little disconcerting. There was the junior soldier enrollment and our other section groups shared in the program. However, the visiting incoming commander, Commissioner Schurink from Holland, greetings from Norway and Colonel Fred Ruth from England, all overshadowed what was the focus of our two weeks of coming together.
-Perhaps we were at fault for not explaining the significance of this particular Sunday morning service to the visiting ‘dignitaries’. Our intent was to focus on the family of worshippers, the new soldiers, music making and to thank the many persons who’d assisted.