As Ukraine continues to grapple with political corruption, armed conflict and civil unrest, Missional Partnership Radooga is nurturing the country’s future, one youth camp attendee at a time.
In 2019, Radooga celebrated its 25th season of working to shape leaders within their nation, hosting 31 camps for almost 1100 Ukrainian kids and teenagers this year alone. While their leadership development programming extends beyond their JAMM Outreach and English Language camps, these relational, gospel-centered camps are a significant portion of Radooga’s mission to foster the flourishing of Ukraine.
Radooga’s JAMM Outreach camps provide opportunities for Ukrainian youth to develop skills in business, foreign languages, and the performing arts, as well as a chance to experience the uplifting community. As 15-year Radooga board member Linda Burton shares, “Jim and I have loved seeing Radooga’s reach into the non-believer teen community. It has been a blessing to watch. The evangelical church in Ukraine is approximately 2% of the total population (predominantly in the lower-middle-class), and through the use of JAMM camps, Radooga is successfully reaching a community that the church had been unsuccessful in reaching.”
Radooga’s vision to rebuild Ukraine also involves training for youth pastors and recently adapted the program to include business leaders, training 2700 people this year. This focus on the integration of faith and work is becoming ever-more targeted and intentional, but these initiatives are far from their first foray into the workforce. Many JAMM camps help campers develop occupational skills, and Radooga is building partnerships with local restaurants, hospitals, and Toyota to expand their offerings and reach.
Perhaps the sweetest fruit of Radooga’s endeavors is the frequent transformation of mentees into mentors: campers often return to serve on JAMM staff, excited to share with others the loving welcome they themselves received. Over the past 7 years, JAMM outreach has provided 87 camps for 4700 Ukrainian teenagers, many of whom report feeling “that the atmosphere is not typical, [that] there is something special in it and it changes them,” according to Radooga staff.
Whether or not the students pay their experience forward as JAMM counselors, they leave equipped with newfound professional skills that will allow them to make a greater impact in their communities. More importantly, they leave encouraged by time spent with people who believe in them. In the throes of a turbulent present, Radooga offers the most vital gift we can give the leaders of the future: hope.