History

The National Organization of Russian Explorers or N.O.R.R. (from the Russian abbreviation), was modeled after the ‘Poteshnii.’ When Peter the Great was growing up, a group of boys his age were assembled as his companions and playmates. They became known as Poteshnii. They came mainly from the villages of Preobrazhenskoe, Semionovskoe, and Ismailovskoe. As with many boys their age, their favorite games were war games, such as attacking and defending fortresses. This was the foundation for three future Guard regiments – the Preobrazhensky, Semyonovsky and Ismailovsky regiments, which served very loyally up until the 1917 revolution.

By the time Peter the Great came of age, the Poteshnii, became a military force. Grand princes served in Poteshnii detachments during the reign of tsar Nicholas I. During the rule of Alexander II, work in the ranks of the Poteshnii continued with a new generation. The failed Russo-Japanese war roused Russian society, summoning a strong nationalistic reaction from the Russian people. It was realized that patriotic-based education was needed. In 1908, Lutskevich, the inspector of public schools in the city of Bahmut, organized a detachment of Poteshnii. On Easter Sunday of 1910, the heir apparent, Alexei Nikolaevich, became honorary commander of this detachment, and Lutskevich was awarded high honors. In the summer of that same 1910 year, in St. Petersburg, almost three thousand Poteshnii were present for a review. The Poteshnii movement quickly grew all over Russia. Detachments of Poteshnii sprang up in all sorts of educational institutions. At the same time, at the Alexandrovsky Military Academy in Moscow, company commander Zaharchenko organized a detachment of 'Razvedchiki’ (Explorers as the Poteshnii movement was now known). On their head gear, they wore the Opolchenski cross – a symbol of Christianity and Orthodoxy, as well as, a symbol of honor, dignity, and security of the homeland. In 1911 in Kiev, the great Russian patriot, Peter Arkadievich Stolypin, reviewed a parade of Poteshnii a few hours before his assassination.

Among Russian diaspora, the idea of the Poteshnii was revived by Colonel Pavel Bogdanovich, formerly of the Regimental Staff of General Kutepov. There were branches in the Far East, France, Bulgaria, and Morocco. After the mass movement of Russians to the United States, work was again renewed. With much help and active involvement of Protopriest Seraphim Slobodskoy, the organization was registered in New York State and in 1967, the first summer camp opened in the Catskill Mountains.