The inter-campus hike ‘SOS’, organized by students of HSE University in Perm, winners of the ‘Voronka’ fest and the Student Project Contest, took place recently. HSE Life talked to the organizer and participants of the project about starry nights, rafting and friendship between campuses.
‘HSE University has four campuses. We are united and separated by many things at the same time. There are social networks where students from each campus talk about their life. But the university is not about posts, it's about people. I am member of the Perm campus tourist club, and a joint hike and competition seems to me to be the perfect way to learn about each other. How else can we unite people if not around a campfire after a long and busy day?’ says Anastasia Saltykova, project coordinator.
‘SOS’ is a project that Anastasia's team came up with at ‘Voronka’, the annual inter-campus student meeting. The project won and reached the final of the Student Project Contest. Having successfully defended the project, the team received 287,800 rubles to implement the plan, with the money being spent on transport expenses, food, souvenirs, catamaran rentals and insurance for participants.
‘Preparing for the orienteering competition was the most interesting part. We woke up at 5 am and left at 6 am. After a two-hour journey, some sandwiches and tea from a thermos we were on the site with the map and checkpoints. At first we felt confused, as it was our first experience in organizing this type of competition. But our trips to Ust-Koiva - the village where the competition took place — made us believe that everything would work out,’ says Anastasia.
The project is inter-campus, so the organizers found four captains, and then selected four teams of ten students from each campus. Motivational letters helped the organisers to determine the participants, while experience and athletic skills were not included in the criteria for selection.
Like plans of many people, all my international plans and trips were cancelled. My friend told me about ‘SOS’, and I thought, why not head to Perm? I hadn’t travelled much in Russia, so I decided that this would be a great opportunity.
It was my first time in a camp bath. It was an unforgettable experience — twenty people run out and jump into the river under the starry sky, with steam, splashes and cheers all around. Rafting on catamarans turned into a cozy gathering. The smoothly changing landscape accompanied by the songs of Valentin Strykalo, St. Petersburg’s well-coordinated team, who outran the others, the passages through the rapids and several catamarans going in one row – all this is flashing in front of my eyes when I think of the trip.
During orienteering, I was most impressed by wading across the river. We were the only team that decided to reach the checkpoints on the mountain on the opposite bank. We crossed the river in our bathing suits in cold water, holding hands so that we wouldn't get carried away by the current. We felt like heroes. Songs with a guitar by the fire under the starry sky, a fragrant bubbling pot with mulled wine, and wonderful company have made the most remarkable memories. It wouldn't have worked without these people.
Until eighth grade, summer camping was an important part of my life, and I wanted to revive this tradition. First of all I decided to go for the atmosphere and peace. I wanted to arrange something like a retreat: without the Internet, empty conversations and city bustle – just the mountains, the sky and a guitar.
For the first time in my life, I sailed on a catamaran. I remembered how to set up a tent and wash dishes in the river. The most exciting event was swimming in ice cold water under the starry sky, climbing the Red Stone and the impressive view of the river in the setting sun, and of course, the rafting itself. I fondly remember the people I met, and now it is difficult to imagine my day without them. HSE is really one big family.
The idea of orienteering competitions combined with rafting seemed very attractive to me, and I’ve planned to take part in such competition for a long time — so everything turned out to be as I’d hoped.
I will always remember the constant feeling of competition: changes of tactics, unexpected surprises on the route and testing your endurance. I believe that our team has handled all the adventures with grit and determination, including the sudden need to cross the river to get to one of the points on the route, searching for the right point among abandoned houses, and climbing the mountains on the way to the last point on the route.
I had never tried hiking and rafting before, so the event seemed interesting. But I did not expect that I would like the trip so much: I absolutely loved this trip. I learned to sail on a catamaran, and to put up a tent. I lost my fear of living in nature for a long time without the usual comfortable facilities.
I will never forget going rafting: it is something incredible — you are sailing along the river, admiring the stunning views, and suddenly you realise that you’ve forgetten about all your problems. And, of course, I will also never forget the nights spent talking and singing songs with other students around the campfire.