Week 4, Tambura and Folklore Week at St. Sava Camp in Shadeland, PA, began on July 30, 2023. Counselors were excited for the arrival of 105 campers and were eager for this week of singing, dancing, and fun. The bonfire began with the senior boys and head counselor, Stana Topich, going over the rules. Shortly after that, the campers' love of dancing and singing became evident through requests for kolo dancing and being with camp friends again. With four groups of campers, performance directors Mia Čirkić and Stana Topich were eager to begin working on the program; Sunday night included learning some aspects of the senior dance and the girls’ song, "Kafal Sviri."
Early Monday morning, campers began their day like every morning, with a walk to our beautiful church and prayers. Shortly after a delicious breakfast, made with love by our volunteer kitchen moms, dads, and babas, work on the program began. Under the passionate direction of Mia Čirkić and assistants Dusi Karas and Luka Djurich, each group began to learn their show. The campers knew that it was crunch time, as they had about three days to learn their choreography. Campers were motivated and determined to perfect their dance, and they found time to laugh and enjoy their rehearsal with their instructors. When campers were sent up to their barracks to get ready for "lights out", counselors would witness them practicing their steps in the common room!
When the campers weren’t dancing, the sounds of their beautiful voices, led by Stana Topich, could be heard. They felt their hearts fill with joy as they sang "Veseli se Srpski Rode." As the week progressed, the campers did the usual camp activities: arts & crafts, religion class, swimming, boating, soccer, and basketball, along with continuing to practice their dancing, singing, and playing their tamburas. Our counselors made sure the campers were always having a great time as they competed in basketball tournaments or led water aerobics by the pool. The week would not run so smoothly without this amazing crew: Stana Topich, Natalie Dean, Mia Čirkić, Nina Topich, Jelena Winowich, Gia Vlajkovic, Mariana Bajich, Ruby Attar, Anastasija Kosic,, Kaja Musicki, Jovana Petrovic, Stev Barach, Michael Topich, Luka Djurich, Nikola Rabljenovic, Stevo Musicki, Luka Parojcic, and Maksim Damljanovic.
On Wednesday, August 2nd, we celebrated the Holy Prophet Elijah (Sveti Ilija) with liturgy before the start of our day. Bowling was one of the highlights of the week, as we had the entire alley to ourselves. The campers were able to get their strikes and spares with glow-in-the-dark fun! Throughout the week, counselors were the only ones who saw the various groups practice their dances and songs. On Friday evening, our Bishop and all the volunteers were excited to finally see the final run-through of the show. The campers were proud to show everyone what they had learned in such a short amount of time.
On Saturday, August 5th, our picnic day was a very warm and beautiful sunny day. The day began with the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, officiated by His Grace Bishop Irinej of Eastern America. Alongside His Grace, served diocesan clergy from various parishes of the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Deaneries, many of whom dedicated their time at Shadeland during the 2023 season. The monastery church of the Most Holy Mother of God was filled with campers, youth, counselors, parents, and many faithful visitors from the United States and Canada. Under the direction of Maksim Damljanovic, campers, counselors, and parents inspiringly sang the responses to the Liturgy. At the beginning of the liturgy, counselor Luka Parojcic was tonsured a Reader. During his homily, the Bishop spoke to the campers and all present about Mother Angelina, her sons, and her role in Serbian Orthodox history in the 15th Century. Mother Angelina was a young widow, and her sons were fatherless, but George ended up becoming a Serbian Despot and Maxim the Archbishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Mother Angelina was actually Albanian by birth, but the people knew her as a Serb because she was a wonderful person, married to Serbian Despot Stefan Brankovich, who dedicated her life to her people under the most difficult of circumstances. Putting her sons on the right path, she entered monasticism, and lived out her days in Krushedol Monastery.
Having prayed for the founders and benefactors of our magnificent Shadeland Monastery Estate, we also prayed for the victims of Operation Storm – Oluja of 1995, and at the conclusion of the service, the Rite of the Patronal Feast, Slava, was celebrated.
Following a brief lunch, the long-anticipated show began with the announcement of counselors and speeches from Stana Topich and Teta Millie Radovick. The folkloric performances of all four groups were memorable, especially when the boys fantastically completed their tricks in Vlaske Igre. The crowd enthusiastically gave a standing ovation to the thirty seniors that ended the show as they danced an encore to Igre iz Bosilegrada. Congratulations to these wonderful youth and to all the children who made this program and camp season a tremendous success! At the conclusion of the show, all sang our beloved St. Sava Hymn, which ends with a verse composed especially for us in the Diaspora: "And we, your little Serbs, on this side of the ocean..." Thank you for a wonderful season; we look forward to next year! And, as our Bishop noted, be certain to bring a friend or two!