[Archived News] Thursday July 10, 2008

St. Elijah 31st Annual Summer Day Camp

Aliquippa, PA - In the spring, we begin the process of planning our summer day camp by choosing a theme.  For 2008, we got our inspiration from His Holiness Patriarch Pavle, who exhorts us in his Easter message to “…let scholars with their scientific work defend Kosovo…;let every parent have Kosovo be a first word to whisper to a newborn’s ears…;let every worker dedicate his first hour of work to Kosovo…’let every pastor offer his first prayer to God for Kosovo…Following this lead, we decided to dedicate our Thirty-first Annual Summer Day Camp to Kosovo je Srbija!

Under the spiritual guidance of Fr. Stevan Stepanov, we planned a full week of religious and historic education along with fellowship, fun, and food.   

Each day began with morning prayers, followed by a history lesson on an era of Kosovo’s history:

Monday: Land of faith and tradition: Why Kosovo is important to us

Tuesday: 1389 ~ The Battle of Kosovo

Wednesday: Turkish Occupation, Independent Serbia, and Yugoslavia

Thursday: Yugoslavia breaks up, NATO bombs, the UN takes over

Friday: The Battle of Kosovo movie

In order to enhance each lesson, special activities were planned.  The older campers rehearsed and performed a play The Battle of Kosovo (thanks to St. Luke in Washington, D.C. for providing the script and costumes).  Mim Bizic shared her personal experiences in Kosovo and presented each camper with several gifts that helped to truly demonstrate the spirit of Kosovo.  And of course, the camp t-shirts had the Maiden of Kosovo on them.  We even incorporated the Kosovo theme into our “Serbian Survivor” game.  Our teams were named for famous Serbian Orthodox monasteries or churches in Kosovo, each with a flag designed and made by the team to show a little of that church’s history and importance.  The knowledge challenge questions were all about Kosovo, as we attempted to tie the daily lessons into a practical use – winning a prize!  

We were truly impressed with how well all of our campers embraced the theme and listened and learned.  Just ask any St. Elijah camper about the Yugovici brothers!

The campers also toured Old Economy Village, played at Lakewood Park, swam and sunned at Lake Tomahawk, and saw a movie – along with lots of running around, laughing, and eating good food prepared by our kitchen babas.  

This June, we have an average of 35 kids each day – from ages 4 through 19.  It is encouraging and heartwarming to see our teenagers willingly spending a week with our younger campers, and taking responsibility to insure they are having a safe and happy time.  And as a bonus, we were joined by a few campers from our neighbors at St. George in Midland.  

Our 31st Annual Day Camp is truly a church-wide effort.  Many of our parishioners donate money, supplies and time.  All of the church organizations support us.  Parents, grandparents, kumovi, aunts, uncles, and friends take days off of work to spend the day with our campers.  

By far, this is one of the best traditions in our church and we are thrilled that another generation of campers enjoys and appreciates the camp.  Two stories help to demonstrate this.  On the first day, Fr. Stevan talked about how Kosovo is the foundation of our spiritual and cultural lives.  He mentioned that our forebearers had brought this with them when they came to America on a boat; one boy later asked his mother is she had come here on a boat.  When she replied no, but that his great grandparents had, it provided for a real opportunity to talk about that family’s personal history.  On a lighter note, another mother laughed about how her son awaked her one morning at 5:00 asking if it were time to go to camp!

Special thanks to camp director Georgette Osman and Sunday School co-ordinator Brian Hayden, along with daily counselors Lynn Popovich, Linda Mistovich, Joann Ludovico, and Juliann Taylor.  We also appreciate the assistance of Bob Baron, Kathy Loverich, Men’s Club, KCC, Mother’s Club, the Aliquippa American Serbian Club as well as so many others who helped to make this year’s camp a great success.