UNWLA Phoenix Branch 3 helped facilitate the scholarships for seven Ukrainian children to attend Camp Tuku in northern Arizona. At Camp Tuku, children learn mindfulness techniques, useful both in the camp experience and later in life. The camp team designed a program to integrate the mind, body, and heart, giving children skills to help them nurture inner resilience early in life. Those skills will hopefully serve the little Ukrainian participants.

These Ukrainian children, aged 6 to 15 years old, escaped bombs and shelling in March and April with their mothers, some just arriving to the USA in June under the U4U program. The camp offered them space to recover from the horrible stress of the war and separation from their homes. UNWLA helped to connect parents and guardians with camp administration and ensure timely registration. In the words of Olena Melnyk, a UNWLA Phoenix Branch 3 member, “The greatest joy we can have is to see smiling happy faces of our children, and that’s what camp experience helped to achieve.”

Dmytro, 15 y.o., shared his impressions: “Me and my little brother, Bohdan, had so much fun attending many activities, and we received a lot of support from the staff.” They had many adventures (canoeing, kayaking, arts and crafts, pet care, and archery.) Dmytro said the staff and other children were very supportive and understanding. 

In conversations with camp director Rachel Weir, the mutual benefit was evident. American children learned how war affects a person’s life, and Ukrainian kids found new friends and compassion. We are proud that UNWLA could help to provide Ukrainian children with a feeling of fun, safety, and acceptance.

We thank all the donors and UNWLA members for their generous assistance and support. As the charge for each camper was $1015, approximately $7000-$7500 scholarship was provided by the Camp Tuku donors. The time at Camp Tuku formed deep bonds between the children and helped them relieve the terrible anxiety of the war, teaching them self-awareness and personal empowerment.