Illuminator - March-April 1996
"In the War for Our Salvation, Many Battles Rage On. Lose the Battle, but Win the War. Fight the Good Fight."
Religious Education Director and Camp Director Join
Forces in the Battle: Summer Camp is an Extension of Church School!
By Carol Halkias, Camp Director and Phyllis Meshel Onest, Religious Education Director
At Summer Camp, young people learn about their Faith in a very different way than is possible during Church School sessions because of the intensity of the program and the time frame. While young people attending Church School receive less than 30 hours of instruction over a nine-month period each year, campers are given 20-30 minutes of religious instruction each day, plus the opportunity to discuss the subject for another 30-40 minutes. That's about 6 hours in 5 days!
In addition, they participate daily in two Church services - Camp Orthros and Camp Vespers - after which a short 3-5 minute sermonette is delivered by one of the Camp Staff. Campers pray together before and after every meal. At night, within each cabin, campers and staff have a "Cabin Talk" to review the day's teachings and events. Then they pray together before going to sleep.
This is only part of the learning that takes place at Summer Camp! Our young people learn how to live an Orthodox Christian lifestyle on a day-to-day basis when they strive to love those who are hard to love: the camper who misbehaves, the camper who is loud and boisterous, the camper who always wants to borrow clothes, the camper who gets angry. The lessons taught in Church School and in our homes are put to the test at Summer Camp.
Campers are encouraged to receive the Sacraments of Holy Confession and Holy Communion while at Summer Camp, and frequently once they return to their parishes. A number of priests are usually available for Confession. For many campers, this is the only time during the year they receive this cleansing sacrament.
On the playing fields, our campers learn Christian sportsmanship. In the swimming pool, they learn Christian modesty (Summer Camp information flyers include a dress code). In their cabins, campers learn how to keep their possessions neat and their living space clean against almost insurmountable odds.
In short, they learn what it means to function as "Community," and in particular, as an "Orthodox Christian Community"! Summer Camp becomes "the model" for living as an Orthodox young person in a society that does not have Christian values and ethics.
Together, our weekly Church School programs and the Summer Camp program, along with the GOYA retreats, reinforce that which is to be taught in our homes. Parents today need the reinforcement from all areas within our society in educating children: family, friends, schools, and especially the Church. Our Diocese offers both retreat and Summer Camp programs to help us "fight the good fight" so that we "win the war!" Make it a point to get your children to both Church School classes and Summer Camp. You won't regret it!