2021 Photo Contest, Portraits, 3rd Prize



Natalia Kepesz

07 August, 2020

Piotr, Jurek and Tomek participate in an exercise simulating an air pollution emergency, at a summer military camp in Mrzeżyno, Poland.

Militaristic organizations for children, such as military schools, weekend clubs, and summer camps, are popular in Poland. Military summer camps for youth have existed in Poland since the 1920s. The young participants are put through boot camps, challenged physically and mentally, and given instruction—often on former army training grounds—in skills such as tactics, survival, self-defense, and topography. They are also taught to shoot, using air rifles and sometimes replica weaponry such as machine guns and grenade launchers. The camps are promoted as opportunities for adventure and recreation, and as character-building and encouraging team work. Organizers maintain that participating in games with replica weapons prevents children from seeking out real ones. On the other hand, there is criticism that suggests the popularity of the camps stems from the rise of nationalism in Poland, particularly since the coming into power of Law and Justice (PiS), a right-wing populist party. Patriotism and nationalism play a significant role in school education.

About the photographer

Natalia Kepesz

Natalia Kepesz is a polish photographer based in Berlin, Germany.  After graduating in cultural studies and art history at the Humboldt University Berlin, she studied pho...

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