UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULT MINISTRY
Diocesan Church School Camp and Teenage Conference Enjoy Spectacular Camping Season!
For the last four weeks the youth of the Holy Ukrainian Orthodox Church converged upon the church’s 400+ acre piece of heaven, All Saints Camp. Campers and staff attended from 27 of our parishes and 13 sister jurisdictions and guests. The youth ministry theme, “Holy Gifts for the Holy” was explored by each encampment as they delved into the workings, theology and mystery of the Divine Liturgy.
A main concept of the encampments was that the liturgy is not something to be learned but something to be lived. The campers learned that the Divine Liturgy is the work of the people and the best way to experience the liturgy is to participate in the liturgy. Each encampment celebrated several Divine Liturgies through-out the sessions and was led through different exercises to help them more fully understand and participate in the services.
Diocesan Church School Camp (DCSC) celebrated its 35th encampment with many special events including a presentation during their final day program. The DCSC encampment church school classes tackled a new section of the Divine Liturgy. In addition, the campers learned to bake prosfora, which was then taken home to their parish priest. Campers also created prosfora seal medallions, which were meticulously painted. A medallion was presented to each of our hierarchs as a gift to commemorate DCSC’s anniversary. Encampment Spiritual Fathers, Fr. Ivan Synvevvsky and Fr. Paisius McGrath along with Natalie Kapeluck Nixon, director of the Office of Youth Ministry, led the campers through their two-week journey.
The campers were given the opportunity to create artwork for the “Happy Birthday Ukraine” contest sponsored by the Ukrainian Embassy to celebrate Ukraine’s 20th anniversary of independence.
Additional highlights of DCSC include: 4th of July Celebration (with a human float parade and patriotic side walk chalk competition), 1st annual mess games, sports night, campfires, swimming and special interest classes of Ukrainian dancing, cooking, crafts, Ukrainian culture and history, and nature.
Teenage Conference (TC) was best summed up with the catch phrase, “TC – I Love It!” The faith education portion of TC was revamped this year under the supervision of Fr. John Harvey and the help of Fr. Bohdan Hladio. Camper favorite, “Fr. John’s Flaming Question Box” – an anonymous question and answer format returned. Adding to this were sessions entitled “Reflections on the Liturgy” and “Hot Topics”. Hot Topics afforded the campers the opportunity to choose between a variety of current topics that are relevant to their lives. These small group specialized talks were a welcome addition to the program. The campers also enjoyed an exceptional workshop led by seminary student John Charest concerning teen depression and suicide as seen through the church.
This year the campers undertook two major projects – refurbishment of the prayer trail and a charitable walk. Eight years ago, TC campers created beautiful prayer trails winding through the ASC property. This year an anonymous donor provided the needed materials to remodel the trail. The camper’s creativity and dedication was inspiring and the prayer trail is now resplendent with its new icons and prayer areas. Phase two of the refurbishment will take place next year.
The Walk for JAM (Japan and the American Mid-west) is a part of the TC Gives Back program. Each year the campers take on a project to help those in need. Based on their great success from last year’s walk for OCMC’s work in the Tarkana region of Kenya – it was decided to conduct another walk with the funds going to support the efforts of International Orthodox Christian Charities and their first-responder work with the survivors of the Japanese tsunami and the devastating tornados in the US mid-west.
Our Lord truly blessed our church this summer through these encampments. Many thanks are sent to the families, campers, staff, donors, and numerous supporters of the encampments. Special gratitude is extended to our beloved hierarchs for their continued love and support of our camping ministry, as well as to the parishes and clergy who made it possible for our youth to attend.