(Wired) Who doesn’t look back fondly on lazy days spent riding horses. Playing tug-of-war. Hiking through the woods. Field-stripping an AK-47 and heaving dummy grenades.

That’s how they roll in Russia, where some 200,000 students between the ages of 11 to 19 hone their survival skills and learn a little history in free camps and after-school clubs under the Patriotic Education of Russian Citizens in 2016-2020 program. “People in Russia kept saying, this is like the Boy Scouts,” says Sarah Blesener, who photographed the camps in Toy Soldiers. “This is not the Boy Scouts.”

Blesener, who is from Minneapolis, Minnesota, caught her first Russian military class while visiting Moscow in April. Intrigued, Blesener checked out six cadet classes, training camps, and after-school programs in Moscow, Borodino and Diveevo.

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