DIOCESE OF EASTERN AMERICA AND NEW YORK: August 16, 2010
St Seraphim’s Camp Comes to an End
The 2010 St Seraphim’s Camp was a tremendous success. For a week, Orthodox youth gathered in the beautiful Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania to attend the largest Orthodox camp in the Diaspora. Nearly 250 people attended with six priests and two protodeacons in attendance. Campers came from America, Canada and Russia to participate.
On Sunday, July 25, Divine Liturgy was celebrated, and campers began arriving after lunch. By evening, everyone had found their tents and gathered in dining hall for a talk by Protopriest Seraphim Stephens. Each day was begun with prayer and religious instruction. The remainder of the day was filled with tube rafting on the river, arts and crafts, soccer, games, hikes and campfires. Each camper made their own tee shirts, tie dyed beach towels, lathe work 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.
Monday morning saw the arrival of our First Hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, along with Protopriest Andrew Sommer and the Metropolitan's cell-attendant Denis. They joined the campers for lunch and watched the various activities. That evening they went to the soccer field at the river and joined spectators at the camp Olympics. Bishop George of Mayfield was able to visit the camp for a short time. Late Monday evening the myrrh streaming icon of St Anna arrived at camp and remained with the children the entire week.
On Tuesday evening Subdeacon Joseph Kimball treated the adult counselors and staff to a poolside barbecue 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 were the ever present shaving cream battles.
A great blessing was visited on the camp when a large relic of the Life-Giving Cross arrived in camp and remained with the children for a few days. All the campers and staff were able to be blessed with the True Cross of the Savior.
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. The older campers and junior staff stayed at the fire until late as the younger children went to their campsites.
The Annual Soccer match was a highlight as well. Each year the bravado mounts and we gather for two soccer games. There are some very fine soccer players in our Russian Church Abroad!
For the Saturday vigil and the Sunday Liturgy, all the clergy served the divine services. Once again, the choir sang beautifully under the direction of Christopher Johnson, as the Fathers Alexis Duncan, David Straut, Seraphim Stephens, Brendan Crowley, Stelian Liabotis, Gabriel Weller, Protodeacons Constantine Semyanko and Michael Soloviev served. With three chalices, it took quite a while 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 throughout the coming year until we once again are blessed to be together for all too short a week.
The camp is currently looking for land to purchase or rent. It will be very expensive. All staff of the camp are strictly volunteers in order to keep costs low. Due to that, our resources are also at a minimum. We are seeking generous donors to assist us in obtaining our own camp for the children. The camp could also be used for a variety of youth activities throughout the year. Any donations will be greatly appreciated. Donors may contact the camp director, Archpriest Alexis Duncan at 678-613-2270 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The camp web site is www.stseraphimcamp.com. There, one can find many photographs and more information about the camp.