UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Mommy and Me / Daddy and Me Encampment Continues to Grow!
This year’s encampment was the largest yet with 97 participants and staff! Families traveled across state and international borders to join us for a fun filled week at beautiful All Saints Camp as we learned about the theme, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”
Our families gathered on Monday evening and began the encampment with Small Compline and dinner together. Parents got to know one another as their children were introduced to the week’s theme and then everyone got a good night’s rest to prepare for the week ahead.
Tuesday morning began with prayers, breakfast, and our annual family hike on the Prayer Trail, where children learned about saints who were good “keepers” of their brothers and sisters. Following the hike, families made lovely braided breads that symbolized each of us as individual brothers and sisters who must work together and care for one another. The annual “Bean Bag Olympics” were opened with a ceremonial march and the competitors competed in their first event. After some much needed rest time, families gathered again for prayers and dinner followed by the first evening campfire. S’mores were a hit as always and Fr. Taras’s story was a crowd favorite!
On Wednesday morning, both parents and children spent time learning about the theme, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”. The children learned what it means to be a good keeper by transforming into animals and “interviewing” candidates for a new zoo keeper at the MMDM Zoo. They learned that the best keepers cared for all of the animals by providing nourishing and appealing food, maintaining a comfortable and inviting habitat, and showering the animals with love and affection. The children learned the song “A New Commandment” as a reminder that the key to being a good keeper is Love! Parents spent part of their workshop time in a general Q & A session led by Very Reverend Taras Naumenko and Reverend Anthony Perkins with topics focused on parenting and the Orthodox Church. They also listened to guest speaker Paul Abernathy, Director of FOCUS Pittsburgh. Paul spoke about the work of FOCUS Pittsburgh and ways to encourage children to serve others in their community. Wednesday’s family events concluded with the annual family craft project, which was a decorated container to be used to collect loose change for a charity important to each family. Parent’s Night Out was a nice opportunity for parents to relax, connect with old friends, and make new ones.
Thursday morning both parents and children took action to carry out the ideas of this year’s theme. Parents boarded a bus and took a short ride into nearby Emlenton, PA to spend time with local senior citizens. Although it was a small group, our participants brought joy and entertainment to all! The children created cards to send to someone in need of some cheer and decorated pillowcases to send to the orphanages in Ukraine. They also decorated a pillowcase to take home as a reminder of God’s message to care for others throughout the year. In the evening, the children completed the Saints Walk where they “met” saints whose lives are an example to us as we learn to be good keepers of our brothers and sisters. Then families gathered for the final campfire. This year many families shared their favorite campfire song and our repertoire continues to grow!
Our last morning together was spent celebrating Divine Liturgy. After brunch, families spent the rest of Friday morning packing and preparing for their journey home. The week closed with a short presentation from the children and recognition of our MMDM Graduates.
Next year’s encampment is scheduled to take place July 28-August 1, 2014. We hope to see you there!