Shadeland, PA - From Sunday, July 19th through Saturday, July 25th, youth from all over the Eastern Diocese travelled to Shadeland, PA for camp. Beginning with a bonfire on Sunday evening, youth ranging in age from 7 to 17 shared a little bit about themsleves, socialized, joked, and prepared Smores.
Each day students rose early for morning prayers at the Most Holy Mother of God church before the raising of the flags and breakfast. Students were then split into three groups for music, crafts, and religious education. This year’s educational theme was “The Serbian Mission in America,” offering our youth a general sense of Orthodox mission before teaching them about the newest, soon-to-be canonized, Saints Bishop Mardarije and Fr Sebastian.
After lunch each day, campers spent their afternoons playing sports, swimming, fishing, canoeing, and more. Prior to dinner campers gathered again at the Most Holy Mother of God church for Daily Vespers. Evenings at camp were filled with a variety of popular activities including a “festival”, complete with a bounce house obstacle course, as well as evening bowling at a local bowling alley.
On Thursday campers attended an educational Divine Liturgy with Fathers Aleksa Pavichevich, Dragan Zaric, and Christopher Rocknage concelebrating. Fr Christopher offered a sermon to all those present, reminding them of the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of Orthodox Christians. The campers faithfully sang and participated in the service. Following Divine Liturgy the campers spent the day enjoying Waldameer Amusement Park in Erie, PA.
Shadeland Camp was blessed with a visit by His Grace Bishop Dr Mitrophan on Friday. His Grace led the religious education session in the morning. He asked, first, that the campers share some of the lessons they learned at camp that week. He then offered the campers an opportunity to ask questions. When asked about the current process of canonizing saints, His Grace Bishop Dr Mitrophan reminded students of the local nature of veneration that leads to official recognition of sainthood. His Grace also posed a poignant question to the students: are the saints in our calendar the only saints we have in our church? Through this discussion campers came to realize that sainthood is something that extends beyond that official recognition.
Thanks to all of the staff, priests, and volunteers that work so hard to make Shadeland Camp a positive and life-giving experience for the youth of the Eastern Diocese.