WE WERE putting up a new building for a Young Pioneer camp in the foothills of the Greater Caucasus, near Nalchik, capital of the Kabardino-Balkar Autonomous Republic. Every morning trucks loaded with mortar and bricks pulled up to the site, and, armed with trowels and the foreman's instructions, 30 bricklayers got to work.
There was nothing unusual about the construction site, but the bricklayers were very unusual. One was a lawyer, and an American at that. Another was an art critic from Britain. Four other Americans and Britishers plus a Russian completed the team. The bricks were laid to an accompaniment of serious talk on politics, ethics and contemporary art.
The structure being built was to serve as added living quarters for this camp, where the children of Nalchik confectionery workers spend the summer. And the builders were participants in the second international youth work camp-seminar. In 1962 the first work camp-seminar was held in Bristol, England, and the host was the British Friends Service Council, one of the three organizations sponsoring these youth meetings. Last year we members of the USSR Committee of Youth Organizations played host to young people from Britain and the United States at the Belaya Rechka camp. This year the American Friends Service Committee will have their turn.
We flavored the work and the discussion with a contest of culinary art initiated by our Georgian cook Uncle Vasya, with his mouthwatering Caucasian dishes. The guests took up the challenge and prepared their own national dishes.
Every evening after work we met for a round table discussion. We argued whether it was true that youth today had adopted a new morality. We discussed the relationship between youth and society, material and spiritual progress, politics, literature and art.
There was much that united the seminar participants--their common efforts for economic and social betterment, for peace and mutual understanding among peoples. They all welcomed the agreement between the United States, Britain and the USSR for a partial ban on nuclear tests, which was signed while the camp-seminar was in progress.
The striving for understanding was noticeable in everything: in the joint work, in the discussions and even in the entertainment. They attended readings and concerts in Nalchik by Kabardino-Balkar poets, singers and musicians.
We did not work on Sundays, and one Sunday, at the request of our American and British friends, we went to services at the Nalchik Orthodox Church. Afterward the priest answered questions put by Roger Fredrickson of Philadelphia and his comrades: how large the congregation was, what were the relations between church and state, and related questions.
On another occasion we were received by Chomai Uyanayev, the president of the republic. This son of a shepherd, an engineer by profession, now head of the republic, described the economic life of Kabardino-Balkaria and the activities of the Supreme Soviet he heads.
We visited Europe's largest plant for the extraction of rare metals, in the city of TyrnyAuz, and two collective farms.
We had lots of get-togethers with the local Young Pioneers. One day they nearly defeated our camp team in a soccer match; we were saved by the goal Russell Cleaver of Britain scored.
Every day we saw one another, listened to one another, but the most important thing was that we worked together. Nothing brings people closer than working together. When the time came for us to leave, it was not so much as people of different nationalities and convictions who went to separate homes but as people who had built one, though small, home together. And this was the main result of our camp-seminar.By Alexander Chicherov. Photos by Sergei Solovyov.