Teaching and Transforming Youth
Some people have asked about summer programs for children in a Vacation Bible School format, or Vacation Church School since we aren’t Bible only. Unfortunately, there isn’t much available yet. However, the Greek archdiocese has recently published the first of 3 Vacation Church School programs on the 12 Great Feasts, and the OCA Hub has details on setting up a VCS program. The links to both can be found at antiochian.org
I hope this is helpful if it’s something your parish would like to do next summer
Many adults have wonderful memories of the times they spent at summer camp. The friendships, the laughter, and even the difficult moments made for an experience they never forget. Now, there are more Orthodox Christian camping programs than ever. Orthodox Christian camps are still teaching and transforming the lives of youth with fun and exciting programs.
Orthodox Christian summer camps help youth grow and learn in four different ways:
Camping programs offer young people an opportunity to worship among their peers. But campers do more than just participate in the Worship of the Orthodox Christian Church. The campers learn Who we worship and why we worship. Campers also learn how to pray and are encouraged to make it part of their morning and evening routine. In fact, campers learn about services other than the Divine Liturgy.
In addition, campers also to worship through offering their gifts and talents through reading the Epistle, singing the hymns, and even preparing the Prosforas for the Holy Eucharist.
Ultimately, campers are given the tools to transform into active and faithful participants in the Body of Christ. This appreciation and love for worship is something they carry with them back to their home parishes.
In any community, good leadership comes from those who know how to serve. At Orthodox Christian summer camps, young people learn that Service is not just something you doit is something you live! As Christians, we are called not to be served but to serve. Therefore, campers learn how to serve the camp and serve each other. This might mean working on a project for camp beautification or setting the tables for their fellow campers during meal time. Many camps also have service projects and philanthropic activities in conjunction with their program to reinforce this important part of the Christian life.
Campers are given the tools to transform into individuals who constantly think of the other. With the seeds planted at summer camp, todays campers are molded into tomorrows Christian leaders.
One of the most difficult aspects of being a Christian is truly being a Witness of what you believe. Part of creating true Christian witness is to educate about the Orthodox Christian faith. Campers have the distinct opportunity to learn more about their faith at summer camp. With Orthodox educational sessions and other learning opportunities, campers are able to ask questions about faith, traditions, moral issues, ethical issues, and much more.
Campers are given the tools to transform into fearless preachers of the Gospel, by word AND by deed. Most importantly, campers will know more about their faith in order to educate and inspire others.
Orthodox Christian camps offer young people a chance to have their own community of peers. Fellowship within a community comes with a few challenges, like getting to know new people and learning how to deal with different personalities. But the best part of this community of young people is the FUN! Camp is for the camper! Activities and programs are designed to provide entertainment, excitement, and joyful memories for each camper.
These are the memories that they carry through their entire lives.
Campers are given the tools to transform into joyful human beings, who gain a fuller understanding that we are not alone. In a safe and fun environment, campers learn how work together, live together, and worship God together with their neighbor. This is a lesson they can use in every aspect of their lives (family, work, school, friendships, etc.)
Orthodox Camping is a wonderful experience for our youth. We are blessed in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada to have Church Camps across our nation. These camps are headed by dedicated individuals who have a genuine love for children, the Orthodox Faith and the Ukrainian Culture. They also have the call and desire to share this love with the youth that attend these camps.
In order to promote Orthodox Camping, we are creating this special section on the webpage to give our camps a place to advertise and report on their activities.
We also seek to promote our Institute Summer Programs as well.
We encourage our Church Camps and Summer School Programs to send in their announcements, application forms, pictures, reports of activities, etc. and we will endeavour to post this information in order to share with each other and the world the great camps that we are blessed with.
God Bless and Happy Camping!
Fr. Gene Maximiuk