UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Mommy and Me, Daddy and Me 2015
Exploring Faith, Hope, and Love as Christian Families
Families from as far away as Ukraine and as close to home as Pennsylvania came together in Christian community at All Saints Camp, located in Emlenton, Pennsylvania. 2015 was a year of fellowship; children who would never otherwise meet were given the opportunity to make friends with the same beliefs, parents could socialize with others who shared the great joy and responsibility of raising a child in the faith, and the Big Brother/Big Sister staff members could form ties with children and parents alike as they worked closely with families to make their experience at camp more enjoyable. Orthodox and Catholic, American and Ukrainian, the families brought their diverse backgrounds together and learned about living lives of Faith, Hope, and Love in the modern, secular world of the 2010s.
Big Brothers and Big Sisters greeted and welcomed the families to camp on Monday. They gave the adults a helping hand with the children, sat with them at meal-times, and played games and did arts-and-crafts with the kids. Parents were able to take breaks and relax with their fellow adults because they knew their Big Brother/Big Sister was always ready to step in and keep an eye on their children. Some fun activities of the day involved making Faith, Hope, and Love bracelets, playing Duck Duck Goose, and just running around the field having fun. Vespers were celebrated in the beautiful St. Thomas' Chapel. That evening the children learned more about St. Sophia and her three daughters, Faith, Hope and Love.
Tuesday began with Divine Liturgy, which was very lively with all the children present, and it was fitting to praise the Lord while ankle-deep in His most precious of gifts. The encampment hiked the Prayer Trail to visit the icons of St. Juliana, St. Seraphim, and St. Anthony the Great, and stopped at the hill of crosses, challenging the children to see how many crosses they could make out through tthe trees. This year's MMDM Olympics were kicked off upon return. Each day the families are provided several hours in which they could do whatever they want: sleep, socialize, play games, etc. The nice weather made the pool a very popular option. The evening's big event was a campfire, and everyone enjoyed a night of s'mores, singing, and stories.
Wednesday found the parents in a workshop with Fr. Robert concerning stewardship and family life while the children learned about the disciples being 'fishers of men,' decorated crosses, and learned about saints who were in the same family like St. Peter and St. Andrew. The families came together and tie-died the year's camp T-shirt, decorated frames for their family photos, and discussed what they had learned. The evening wrapped up with Parents' Night Out; the Big Brothers/Big Sisters watched the children in the cabins while the parents went to the pool for a few hours of relaxation and conversation.
Arts-and-crafts on Thursday involved making dove ornaments and decorating mason jars to be prayerful night lights. The children learned about St. John the Baptist while they worked, and in a field trip to the chapel they learned about the apostles and other saints in the icons. Fr. Mark Leasure of St. George Carpatho-Russian Chuch in Taylor, PA visited with the myrrh-bearing Icon of the Tender Heart of the Mother of God, and it made learning about living a life of faith very real and relevant. The children loved it, the parents asked questions, and everyone prayed together in fellowship. Dinner was followed by a saint walk, in which the families went around the camp and interacted with "saint families". They kneaded bread with St. Basil, stood by the cross with Sts. Constantine and Helen, and talked with the brothers Sts. Cyril and Methodius. The walk ended, and the families were all treated to s'mores at the campfire.
Friday was the day of departure. The children perform everything they'd learned for their parents in a short program. The week had been filled with fun and adorable moments with the children and we were sad to see it end. The hope is to see the families again next year, whether it be at Mommy and Me or the graduates at Diocsean Church School Camp, and know that the friendships made during camp, founded in Christ as they were, will last beyond the boundaries of All Saints Camp and into the secular world beyond.
In Christ's Name,
“Mommy and Me, Daddy and Me, is designed for parents and children to spend time together in an Orthodox Family Environment. The children are introduced to camp life at All Saints Camp, and the parents are given the opportunity to meet fellow Orthodox parents who are tackling the same challenges in today's world.”