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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe 2012 summer camp for 15 young clients of the Ruse social services centre took place between the 9th and 12th July.

The children were accompanied to the Kireka Complex near Madera by two teenage animators (Annie and Pipi), an ex-client and his mother, Evgeni Georgiev (a volunteer guide with intimate knowledge of the area), and staff from the Ruse complex.

Madara is in the district of Shoumen – an area blessed with an extraordinary concentration of cultural heritage sites scattered across breathtaking landscape.

En route to Madara, the group visited Veliki Preslav, the ruined ancient capital of Bulgaria when it was one of 10th century Europe’s greatest empires. A local guide escorted the group inside the museum that contains a fine selection of jewelry, mosaics and painted ceramics recovered by archeologists.

The Kireka complex sits high above the Danube plain and just below the Madara escarpment. The views from the gardens are breathtaking and it was an excellent base for outdoor games and excursions onto the Madara plateau or to the village shop for ice-cream. The day started with aerobic sessions led by Annie and Pipi and the mornings were packed with outdoor activity. A mid-day siesta aided recovery from the intense heat (40 degrees plus) and games started around 4.00 in the afternoon.

Evening activity included a talent contest help outdoors with a bonfire keeping the insects at bay and a disco-cum-birthday party.

On the way back to Ruse, the group stopped off to take a look at the UNESCO-listed Madara horseman carved in base relief on the limestone cliff 23 metres above the ground. They also took a stroll the giant natural amptheatre which the ancient Thracians dedicated to Bendis, the huntress goddess and mother of Heros the horseman on whom the carving is based although, according to an inscription, the image is a depiction of the Bulgar Khan Tervel leading a march against Byzantium.

The camp proved wonderful fun for children of all ages who returned to the city with sunburned cheeks and bruised knees.