The most famous PR image of the pioneria of the Soviet Union was a summer vacation camp situated in the Crimea (Ukraine), next to Gurzuf town. Founded as a sanatorium for the kids suffering and recovering from the TB by the Russian Society of the Red Cross, it first opened doors in 1925, June 16th, accommodating about 80 kids from Moscow and the nearest Ukrainian towns.
Then it was just a step ahead of a basic camping ground, with kids sleeping in tents out in the forest. However, it grew rapidly until in early 1930s a few permanent buildings were built. It was then Artek started working all year round due to its mild Mediterranean-like climate.
For a regular Soviet kid, a ticket to Artek did not cost anything – yet it had to be well-earned. Within a school, for instance, only the top students were rewarded by the trip to Artek. During its heydays Artek accommodated about 27 000 kids a year, so from its first days to 1969 about 300 000 kids were able to enjoy the facilities. By then the area of the camp was about 3.2 km², there were more than a hundred bulidings including the sleeping quarters, three medical buildings, a proper school for those visiting Artek during the academic year; a movie pavillion Artekfilm, three swimming pools, a stadium seating more than 6000 spectators at a time as well as a park, a garden and some sporting and play grounds.
After the Collapse of the Soviet Union the popularity of Artek took a swing, due to the lack of funding and the overall mishaps of the Ukrainian country. But it quickly gained its status back and it is a popular vacation site for the kids from all over Russia and Ukraine – despite the fact that now the parents bear the costs of a vacation.