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Great Kids, Great Staff and a Good Time!
by Pearl Homiak

"Get in groups according to your hair color" called Deacon Michael Anderson to campers gathered for the 1999 session of the Chicago Deanery Youth Camp. "Now get in groups according to the first letter of your last name…now according to the kind of toothpaste you use." This and other ice-breaking activities caused laughter and joyful comments as campers got acquainted with each other on the first evening of church camp. Old friendships were renewed and new ones begun as camp got underway.

The Chicago Deanery Youth Camp was held at Wesley Woods in William's Bay of Lake Geneva in Wisconsin. Thirty-nine campers, ages 12 to 17, came from various directions and Orthodox parishes to be together and have fun for five days in August before they had to go back to school. Various activities had been planned, and coordinator Patty Soiya guided other adult volunteers as they helped keep things going.

Various activities took place during camp. Four competing volleyball teams vied for the opportunity to play against a staff team. While some campers played other practiced, said cheers and laughter from both participants and spectators. There was a hike into town for ice cream and a visit to the local observatory. Swimming, fishing, and canoeing were enjoyed, as well as archery. Religious education focused on vocations versus jobs and led to group development of the "qualifications" an "employer" would look for to "hire" someone for the position of Orthodox Christian.

Campfires, cabin cheers, skit practices for the final campfire and even camp cleanup unified campers throughout the days and made the camp memorable. Campers were excited, cooperative, and helpful. Staff members were encouraging, supportive, and cheerful. It was a great camp, and we look forward to another one next year.

Ryan Cossey said this about camp. I encourage more teens (12-18) to participate in the camp next year. It was very educational on the matter of church beliefs, and customs. For example, this year we talked about vocations, a job that you like to do, which also includes one of the gifts or talents given to you by God. It is also educational on many other subjects too. Including astronomy, fishing, sports such as volleyball, and cleanliness. The most important one was teambuilding skills. We had a whole session devoted to the discussion, and actions, of teambuilding. The camp was not all education though. We played games like volleyball, soccer, frisbee, and even football and baseball. There were other fun activities such as, hikes, swimming, down time, free time, archery, there was a scavenger hunt, and even a "Whacky Olympics".

Then on the last night, we rented a movie had pizza, pop, and chips, in the dining room with our sleeping bags. We also did many things pertaining to religion. Such as prayers (Morning, evening, before and after meals). We had Vespers with His Grace, our Bishop Job on Wednesday and Divine Liturgy on Thursday morning. Everyone was encouraged to participate somehow, either to be a reader or to sing with all their hearts. Altogether, it was fun and an educational experience, and I encourage all who are able to make it.

There was a sad moment when a little boy from Poland left with the first hour because he did not want to stay. I'm sure if he did, he would have had a wonderful time. I myself, with the help of Joseph (a fellow camper and parishioner) tried to convince him to stay. In the near future I will be making a web- page with pictures and stories about the camp.

To tell you the truth I had such a great time, I am flying in from Las Vegas, NV to go next year.

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