Young Pioneer camps were created during the time of the Soviet Union and were quite popular. By the 1970s, about 40,000 such camps had been built in the USSR.
Millions of parents sent their children to these state-run holiday parks.
Lenin’s Young Pioneer Organization was responsible for running these camps, and the aim was to expose young minds to communist ideals and propaganda.
While many camps ran various sporting events, some of them also offered activities that would encourage interest in specific careers.
For example, there were camps designed to appeal to naturalists or to those with an interest in geology. There were also camps with activities aimed at those with an interest in engineering.
Some camps, such as Artek, were designed exclusively for children from influential families.
After the collapse of the USSR, many of these camps were demolished or abandoned.
The camp that is the subject of this article was abandoned in the 1990s. One urban explorer dubbed it “Camp Cthulhu” but originally it was called the Fairy Tale Pioneer Camp. However, many who visit it agree that it doesn’t really resemble a fairy tale at all.
If you drive north of Moscow for about an hour and a half, you’ll find this camp hidden away not far from the village of Dedenevo. The whole place is surrounded by pine forests.
The abandoned camp is adorned, inside and out, with a variety of painted, concrete sculptures representing deep-sea creatures.
It’s possible that in the camp’s heyday, when the sculptures were brightly colored and undamaged, these might have been magical or even amusing.
But the dilapidated state of the property and the effect of weathering means that these sculptures are now eerie and terrifying – hence it’s recent moniker that references the work of HP Lovecraft.
Accurate information about this place is really difficult to find. There were rumors that the camp was intended for deaf-mute children while another suggested that the builders were French architects in Russia on an exchange trip.
However, in 2013, it turned out that the camp had belonged to the publishing company Children’s Book JSC. Children’s Book was one of the best printing houses in the country and the camp was intended for the children of its workers.
A Russian journalist from KP managed to track down one of the children who attended here, and she confirmed that the time she spent at the camp was like being in a fairy tale.
In the 1990s, the low number of children meant that the camp wasn’t functioning at full capacity. There was no financial aid from the state and the printing house could not cope with the costs, so the camp was closed in 1997.
The printing house itself went bankrupt in 2009. Who owns the site today is unclear, but it seems to be the state.
After its closure, a guard monitored the condition of the camp in the hope that this place could be restored. There were even plans put forward for a ski resort which included renovating the camp as a children’s attraction. However, the state did not give permission for either the sale of or investment in this property.
This place is extremely attractive to lovers of abandoned places. In the past, there were reports of an incredibly intimidating man who refused to let anyone onto the site and would often scare them away with threats and weapons.
However, more recent reports suggest that he will now admit visitors in return for a fee of 300 rubles.
Some urban explorers felt allowing access for a fee spoiled the site, but now many people, even families, come here for a day out, a walk, or a BBQ.