Jamboree events teach Cuban kids skills

By Associated Press

Published: 19:30 EST, 4 April 2014 | Updated: 19:31 EST, 4 April 2014

HAVANA (AP) — Cuban children wearing red or blue neckerchiefs dance, jump and play in a complex of blocky, Soviet-style buildings with a giant red “Che” scrawled above the entrance.

It’s a kind of cross between slumber party and Scout Jamboree, with a distinctly Cuban flair.

Kids learn skills such as tying knots and how to navigate by the stars; there are also competitions including races to dress themselves blindfolded, as well as sports and cultural activities.

In this March 29, 2014 photo, children or "pioneers," wearing red neckerchiefs over white shirts walk through the Ernesto "Che" Guevara Palace, during festiv...

In this March 29, 2014 photo, children or “pioneers,” wearing red neckerchiefs over white shirts walk through the Ernesto “Che” Guevara Palace, during festivities marking the anniversaries of the Organization of Cuban Pioneers and of the Union of Communist Youth in Havana, Cuba. Cuban schoolchildren are referred to as “pioneers,” and the organization was founded in 1961 to encourage the values of education and social responsibility among children and adolescents. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)

Similar events are held around the island each April 4 to mark the anniversaries of the Organization of Cuban Pioneers and of the Union of Communist Youth.

Cuban schoolchildren are referred to as “pioneers,” and the organization was founded in 1961 to encourage the values of education and social responsibility among children and adolescents.

The Havana building where the event takes place is called the Palace of Pioneers “Ernesto Guevara” — the Argentine-born revolutionary famously nicknamed “Che,” who is loathed by his detractors and venerated as a symbol of revolutionary resistance by his admirers.

More than 50 years after the Cuban Revolution, Guevara is held up here as a model for young people to emulate, with schoolchildren commonly led in chants of “Seremos como el ‘Che'” — “We will be like ‘Che.'”

In this March 29, 2014 photo, young students look out a bus window outside the Ernesto "Che" Guevara Palace, during festivities marking the anniversaries of ...

In this March 29, 2014 photo, young students look out a bus window outside the Ernesto “Che” Guevara Palace, during festivities marking the anniversaries of the Organization of Cuban Pioneers and of the Union of Communist Youth in Havana, Cuba. The Havana building is named after the Argentine-born revolutionary famously nicknamed “Che.” More than 50 years after the Cuban Revolution, Guevara is held up here as a model for young people to emulate, with schoolchildren commonly led in chants of “Seremos como el ‘Che'” – “We will be like ‘Che.'” (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)

In this March 29, 2014 photo, a boy break dances at the Ernesto "Che" Guevara Palace, during festivities marking the anniversaries of the Organization of Cub...

In this March 29, 2014 photo, a boy break dances at the Ernesto “Che” Guevara Palace, during festivities marking the anniversaries of the Organization of Cuban Pioneers and of the Union of Communist Youth. in Havana, Cuba. It’s a kind of cross between a slumber party and Scout Jamboree, with a distinctly Cuban flair. Kids learn skills such as tying knots and how to navigate by the stars; there are also competitions including races to dress themselves blindfolded, as well as sports and cultural activities. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)

In this March 29, 2014 photo, Cuban school children, known as "pioneers," stretch out at the the Ernesto "Che" Guevara Palace, during festivities marking the...

In this March 29, 2014 photo, Cuban school children, known as “pioneers,” stretch out at the the Ernesto “Che” Guevara Palace, during festivities marking the anniversaries of the Organization of Cuban Pioneers and of the Union of Communist Youth. in Havana, Cuba. The Havana building is named after the Argentine-born revolutionary famously nicknamed “Che,” who is loathed by his detractors and venerated as a symbol of revolutionary resistance by his admirers. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)

Young students cheer during a celebration to mark the anniversaries of the Organization of Cuban Pioneers and of the Union of Communist Youth at the Angela L...

Young students cheer during a celebration to mark the anniversaries of the Organization of Cuban Pioneers and of the Union of Communist Youth at the Angela Landa elementary school in Old Havana, Cuba, Friday, April 4, 2014. Cuban schoolchildren are referred to as “pioneers,” and the organization was founded in 1961 to encourage the values of education and social responsibility among children and adolescents. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)

Young students laugh during a celebration to mark the anniversaries of the Organization of Cuban Pioneers and of the Union of Communist Youth at the Angela L...

Young students laugh during a celebration to mark the anniversaries of the Organization of Cuban Pioneers and of the Union of Communist Youth at the Angela Landa elementary school in Old Havana, Cuba, Friday, April 4, 2014. Cuban schoolchildren are referred to as “pioneers,” and the organization was founded in 1961 to encourage the values of education and social responsibility among children and adolescents. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)

Young students perform during a celebration to mark the anniversaries of the Organization of Cuban Pioneers and of the Union of Communist Youth at the Angela...

Young students perform during a celebration to mark the anniversaries of the Organization of Cuban Pioneers and of the Union of Communist Youth at the Angela Landa elementary school in Old Havana, Cuba, Friday, April 4, 2014. Cuban schoolchildren are referred to as “pioneers,” and the organization was founded in 1961 to encourage the values of education and social responsibility among children and adolescents. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)

Young students perform at a celebration to mark the anniversaries of the Organization of Cuban Pioneers and of the Union of Communist Youth at the Angela Lan...

Young students perform at a celebration to mark the anniversaries of the Organization of Cuban Pioneers and of the Union of Communist Youth at the Angela Landa Elementary school in Old Havana, Cuba, Friday, April 4, 2014. Cuban schoolchildren are referred to as “pioneers,” and the organization was founded in 1961 to encourage the values of education and social responsibility among children and adolescents. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)

Young students react during a celebration to mark the anniversaries of the Organization of Cuban Pioneers and of the Union of Communist Youth at the Angela L...

Young students react during a celebration to mark the anniversaries of the Organization of Cuban Pioneers and of the Union of Communist Youth at the Angela Landa elementary school in Old Havana, Cuba, Friday, April 4, 2014. Cuban schoolchildren are referred to as “pioneers,” and the organization was founded in 1961 to encourage the values of education and social responsibility among children and adolescents. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)