St. Peter the Aleut Summer Camp, June 5-9, 2006
After a respite of two years, St. Peter the Aleut Camp is back. Though
previously held in Texas' Hill Country near San Antonio, camp reconvened at
YMCA's Camp Grady Spruce, northwest of Ft. Worth. Thirty-three campers,
three priests and various counselors joined in the week long event. Fr.
John Anderson from St. Seraphim's Cathedral in Dallas, Fr. Antonio Perdomo
from St. George's Church in Pharr, Texas and Fr. Ambrose Arrington from
Holy Apostles Mission in Tulsa, Oklahoma, directed the spiritual focus of
the camp. Attendees came from throughout Texas and Oklahoma. For Orthodox
youth living in an overwhelmingly protestant or anti-Christian worldview
society, attending camps and similar activities provides vital nourishment
on many levels. Life-long friendships develop and deepen with such events,
especially in a geographically vast diocese where many churches contain
very few youth. Such activities allow much needed connections to form
between isolated teens, young adults and children. Combined with prayer,
wholesome fun and clear spiritual focus, the week was well invested for all
The opportunity for spending time with other Orthodox youth
is enhanced with occasions dedicated to common prayer. At camp, morning and
evening prayers were held daily in the large common room. Vespers was
served on Wednesday evening and Divine Liturgy on Thursday morning. Youth
participants chanted at services and the choir was filled with singers
ranging from the youngest campers to the oldest counselors. Besides prayer,
due to the proximity of a lake, camp activities consisted largely of water
sports. These included sailing, canoeing, swimming and blobbing. Via two
ferry type boats, we ventured a trip across the smooth blue waters to the
small lake island we dubbed 'Little Mount Athos'. Once campers climbed to
the top of this picturesque site, Fr. Ambrose Arrington spoke about Mount
Athos and monastic life. Other camp activities included archery, rifle
practice and hiking.
Thursday evening brought us a rousing talent show. The audience kept
breaking into an uproar of laughter generated by the ingenious performances
shared. Each of the four camper teams presented a skit. Several fine solo
and duet performances followed the skits. After the talent show, we had
evening prayers and the younger campers went off to bed. The older youth
then met outside around the camp fire for a "round table" discussion.
Earlier in the day, each teen was given a paper to anonymously submit any
burning questions they wanted answered or discussed. This activity gave the
older campers a special time to air important questions. With the attending
clergy present to help focus the discussion, all went extremely well. For
some, this was the most meaningful part of camp.
Friday morning, all campers went on a hike up to Johnson's Peak. The climb
afforded all participants excellent views of Possum Kingdom Lake and the
YMCA camp. On that rock littered hillside, Fr. Antonio Perdomo gave the
closing lecture on 'what it means to be holy, to be a saint.' Grouped in a
semicircle, this discussion drew upon camper participation. All present
savored this last leg of camp. After scrambling down the hillside,
attendees piled into a truck bed hayride headed back to the weeks' home.
With closing announcements and camp awards given, everyone said farewell
and returned to the rest of life.
Spending a week with other Orthodox youth reminds us that we are not alone
in a hostile world. Other Orthodox Christians face the same struggles and
endure the constant mental persecution that we do. At the end of St. Peter
the Aleut Camp, everyone left happy and ready to face the rest of summer.
Regular camp activities, blended with the richness of Orthodox prayer life
and insightful lectures offered by the clergy, offered a wonderful event
for both body and soul. Counselor, camper, and clergy alike had a wonderful
time and look forward to next year. Youth represent both the present and
future of our church. Focused Orthodox activities such as camps and
retreats facilitate spiritual growth and greater bonding within the Church.
When Orthodox youth spend time together, invaluable memories, lessons and
relationships required for building that future are created and nourished.
To learn more & see photos, go to: http://www.stseraphim.org/parishlife.html
And at: http://www.stgeorgepantry.org/