Every year, at the beginning of each shift, a group of drummers arrives at the pioneer camp, who meets the sun with a cheerful drumbeat. Valka Begunov, who has not yet become a pioneer, meets the dawn with the drummers. The drum of one of the drummers falls from the cliff into the river, and Val’ka jumps into the water to get it. In the morning lineup a detachment of drummers takes Valya into the pioneers.
New academic year Valka begins in another school. Before the start of the school year, the boy and his children are building a sandy town in the courtyard. Vitka Voloshchuk on a bicycle destroys it. Despite the fact that Vitka is older, and Valka does not know how to fight, he enters into battle and wins. Now the bully is not afraid, and the kids are sure that Valya will protect them.
One of the kids, Andryushka, recognizes Valkin secret: the boy draws, especially he likes to draw sailboats. The boy is afraid that after learning about this hobby, he will not be understood, ridiculed, so he hides his album with drawings from all. Once, the geography teacher Oksana Nikolayevna is interested in his enthusiasm for sailboats.
Classmate Sasha accidentally sees Valkin’s album and finds the drawings remarkable. In response, Sashka reveals his secret to Valke: he assembled a telescope.
On the day off, picking scrap metal is assigned. Valka refuses to come, despite Sashka’s persuasion and the fact that their class can lose the competition. Valka participates equally with everyone in public affairs, but he considers nonsense to picking scrap metal and visiting a school choir.
The class leader informs that due to bad weather scrap collection is canceled, but after the lessons the squad’s council will discuss preparations for the New Year’s meeting.
At the drawing class, Valka takes an album out of the portfolio and sees that instead of the school he brought his own, with the ships. The boy hides it back and says that he forgot the album at home. Drawing teacher Yuri Efimovich sees the album and takes it. He agrees not to look at the drawings, but he needs a diary from Valka. There is no diary either, and the teacher writes a note to Valkin’s parents to come to school. Sasha takes it to pass. Valka calls the whole class a traitor. The teacher expels him from the class.
Returning after the call to the class, Valka sees how his classmate Zinka...
The Headmistress Anna Borisovna enters the classroom and sees Zarek. She asks what’s the matter, and Valya is rude to her. After the lessons, Anna Borisovna arranges a class meeting, in which she chastises Valya: she is not scammers, teachers are rude. Some guys try to protect Valka, but Anna Borisovna does not listen to them.
In the evening, Val’ka comes to the meeting of the council of the squad, where, in addition to meeting the New Year, his behavior will be discussed. In the council of the squad he only knows Zink and Oleg Rakitin, a former classmate. Rakitin tries to defend Valka, accusing Zinka, but Anna Borisovna again does not want to listen and makes Valya a hooligan. The chairman of the meeting proposes to exclude Valka from the pioneers. The leader supports this proposal. Only the smallest member of the council, the fourth-grader Seryozha, votes against. Valka remembers how he was accepted as a pioneer by the thunder of drums. Those present at the council demand that Valka take off his tie, but he runs out of the room and sees how his classmates stand under the door. Valya understands that this runaway admits his guilt, but still runs away, clutching his tie.
For help Valya comes to the teacher of geography Oksana Nikolaevna. Her younger brother, the same Sergei, who refused to vote, opens the door to Valka and says that Oksana Nikolaevna is not at home. Valka refuses to wait for her, he becomes ashamed that he came to complain.
Near the house Valka calls Andrew. One of the kids broke his lip, and he needs help. So that the baby is not abused at home, Valka leads him to her and stops the blood.
Sasha comes to Valka. He undertook to transmit the note, so that no one else would volunteer. Yuri Yefimovich approached Sashka and took the note. Sashka tells Valke that his classmates stood up for him before the leader. At parting, the boys shake hands.
On the street Val’ka finds a scrap of a note by Yuri Efimovich. Andrew invited him to draw a ship, so that it was easier to build, and be the kids captain. Valya promises and, in spite of his heartache, gives an honest pioneer. And at home he is waiting for an album with an unfinished drawing, his joyful star that shines in front.