Summer camp in the town of Mogyoród, Hungary plays out slightly differently than what most kids are used to in other parts of the world. Hundreds of children between the ages of 11 and 22 gather at the camp each year, to experience the tough military life for a week. These kids are actually attracted to the military way of life and volunteer to sign up for the camp. It’s not surprising, actually, given the fact that militarism is dominant in Hungarian society.
At the Military Traditional Association, the kids live in tents, receive military training from experienced, active soldiers and learn all about the Order and the Homeland. They stay up all night on guard duty, learn how to fire AK-47s (with blanks, of course) and are put through stimulation tear gas attacks. Intense physical exercise, educational behaviorism and screamed orders is what the week is all about.
Zsolt Horvath, head of the military summer camp, said: “We give them real military training at a basic level. They have endurance tests, running sessions in the morning, fitness exercises. Throughout the day they listen to trainers from various army units who teach them exercises.” Discipline is paramount at the camp – any misbehavior is punishable with push-ups. Both practical and theoretical training are imparted, hoping to groom future members of the Hungarian army.
Photo: YouTube video caption
“Thanks to this camp, where they live a regimental life complete with exercises and military training, I hope that some continue their secondary education in schools where we train future law enforcement officials and the police,” said Laszlo Garamvolgyi, spokesperson for the National Police.
Since conscription – the compulsory enlistment of people in military service – ceased to exist in Hungary in 2004, a strong sense of nostalgia has lingered among its citizens. The camp at Mogyoród is believed to be a result of these feelings. Some parents consider military training essential for mental and physical development. Others look upon military style as fashionable. Whatever the reason, the kids seem to enjoy the camp thoroughly.
Photo: Vimeo video caption
“I like discipline and that you have to keep everything tidy, follow orders, obey and always ask permission for everything,” said Peter, a camp participant.
Rebecca, another participant, said: “I like everything military and extreme and I would like to become a soldier when I’m older.”
I think ‘extreme’ is the perfect word to describe the camp at Mogyoród, in a world where most summer camps for children include finger painting and harmless science experiments.