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"Novyi Sokil" Ukrainian Summer Camp

United States

Andrea Wenglowskyj

Published May 2024

Novyi Sokil is a Ukrainian Plast summer camp outside of Buffalo, NY, where Andrea Wenglowskyj spent over twelve formative years. Having been in operation since the 1950s and despite the horrific attempts to cancel Ukrainian culture, the stewards of this camp represent a guiding force in preserving tradition.

In 1912, the Ukrainian Scouting Organization, Plast, was officially formed in the occupied city of Lviv in western Ukraine. Young boys, spurred by World War I and a newfound freedom, joined Plast and attempted to defend Ukraine against the Red Army. After being banned in 1918, Plast continued to operate secretly and illegally, founded on laws, regulations, and codes, many of which are still followed today. Plast regained popularity after World War II, building camaraderie among women and in displaced persons camps as masses of Ukrainians, including Andrea’s grandparents, re-settled internationally. Eventually, permanent diasporas were established, most of which promoted Plast as an active organization by holding weekly meetings and establishing summer camps.

Through Wenglowskyj’s photographs, she studies the parcel of land purchased by Ukrainian refugees generations ago so that they would always have a place to convene. It serves almost as a theater set where a changing cast of characters come to immerse themselves in scouting rituals. Attending Plast camp is a rite of passage for young Ukrainians in North America, and like any summer camp, there is fun, friends, and bonding. But the tight grasp on the deliberate, formal, conceptual structure of the scouting rituals, the celebration of the Ukrainian language, and the re-enacting of uniquely Ukrainian customs are part of the fight to hold onto a notion of home, the motherland: Ukraine.

Andrea Wenglowskyj

Andrea Wenglowskyj is a Ukrainian-American visual artist and photographer, based in Buffalo, New York. She is passionate about documenting stories of incredible humans doing good things for the world and themselves. Her commercial photography champions nonprofit organizations, cultural institutions, innovative entrepreneurs, and creatives. Wenglowskyj has worked in the contemporary art world and was a Fullbright Scholar in Ukraine. She now works to preserve and explore Ukrainian culture through her visual art which serves an array of community efforts.

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