2004 St. Seraphim Youth Camp Concludes

The 2004 St. Seraphim's Camp was a tremendous success. For a week, Orthodox youth gathered in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania to attend the largest Orthodox camp in the Diaspora. Nearly 300 people attended, with eight priests in attendance to teach the Law of God every morning. Campers came from America, Canada and France to participate.

On Sunday, August 1, divine liturgy was celebrated for the feast of St. Seraphim, and campers began arriving after lunch. By evening, everyone had found their tents and we gathered in the outdoor chapel for a moleben and akathist to St. Seraphim. Each day began with prayer and religious instruction. The remainder of each day was filled with tube rafting on the river, arts and crafts, soccer, games and campfires. Each camper made their own tee-shirts and perfected glass-bead making for hemp jewelry.

A large group of volunteers assisted in the camp kitchen and prepared delicious food, even on the fasting days. No one left hungry. By day's end, everyone was tired and sat around campfires telling stories or just enjoying the cool mountain air. On Tuesday evening, Joseph Kimball treated the adult counselors and staff to a riverside barbeque at what has become a camp tradition. Wednesday brought the most popular activity--flag games. Each campsite was equipped with flags and the boys and girls groups had as their object the

capture of the other's flag. All was fair at this game. Especially popular was the ever-present shaving-cream battles. This year the boys won and the girls' punishment was to serve the boys at the next meal.

On Thursday evening we gathered for the large campfire where we feasted on roasted hot dogs, marshmallows, and all the usual campfire food. Skits, jokes and songs followed, wherein campers played banjos, guitars and balalaikas. The older campers and junior staff stayed at the fire until late as the younger children went to their camps.

The Annual Canada-America Soccer match was a highlight as well. Each year the bravado mounts and we gather for two soccer games. Canada and America are now tied, Canada having won the games 1999-2001 and America 2002-2004. There are some very fine soccer players in our Russian Church Abroad!

Friday was the last day of usual schedule and things began to concentrate on the spiritual life even more as we all began to prepare for confession and communion. A pannikhida was served and all prepared for confession. Saturday afternoon saw the priests hearing confessions from afternoon throughout the vigil. Our choir Director, George Gerasomowicz, led the youth choir for vigil and liturgy. The singing was perhaps the most beautiful the camp has ever heard. For the Sunday liturgy, we had four priests serving divine services, since some had to leave for their own parishes. Once again, the choir sang beautifully as Priests Mark Burachek, Alexis Duncan, Brendan Crowley, Peter Jackson and Deacon Michael Soloviev served. With two chalices, it took well over a half an hour for all the communicants to receive the Holy Mysteries. Nearly every camper and staff member was able to go to Holy Communion.

The camp director, Fr. Alexis Duncan gave a sermon urging everyone to preserve the abundant grace God had given us in camp throughout the coming year until we once again are blessed to be together for all too short a week.

Fr. Alexis Duncan
Joy of All Who Sorrow Russian Orthodox Church
Atlanta, GA