Akron, OH - Winter Camp was held from December 26th – 28th, 2016 at host parishes St Archangel Michael in Akron and St George in North Canton. The theme for this year’s camp was “Finding Christ in the Feast”.
Camp began with registration and morning prayers on Monday, the 28th. The first lesson was offered by the Dean of the Cleveland Deanery, Fr Dragan Goronjic of Holy Trinity in Youngstown, and Fr Aleksa Pavichevich of St George in North Canton. They spoke with the campers about the date of our Lord’s Nativity, and helped the children make the connection between the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Great Feast of Pascha. The children enjoyed an interactive multimedia presentation, crafts and quizzes.
After a wonderful lunch, the children spent the afternoon forming social bonds over two games of bowling before heading back to church for Daily Vespers and dinner.
On the second day of camp the students were treated to a lesson by Fr Sava (Medakovich), a local Serbian monastic, spiritual father of the New Marcha Monastery in Richfield, Ohio. Fr Sava continued expounding upon the Camp theme by helping the children seek Christ in their Nativity traditions and personal preparations.
Following lunch, and a bit of free time, afternoon educational activities were led by Fr Milan Pajic, Fr Rodney Torbic, and Fr Sava. The students played a number of trivia games that helped reinforce the lessons of taught during the first two mornings of camp. One of the most popular activities was the “Scripture Word Jumble” - students had to take a number of words and arrange them in the correct order to complete a section of the Nativity Gospel from Luke 2:1-20.
On the final day of camp the students met at St George Serbian Orthodox Church in North Canton for Divine Liturgy. Along with 27 campers, a number of clergy from throughout the Cleveland Deanery were present, including Fr Dragan Goronjic, Fr Sava (Medakovich), Fr Milan Pajic, Fr Aleksa Pavichevich and Fr Sinisa Hrvacevic.
The children sang all the responses at Divine Liturgy under the direction of Anita Ondreyka. By the Grace of God, all baptized campers prepared for and partook of Holy Communion - it was a joyous realization of the sacramental bond that connects our Serbian communities to Christ and to each other, as well as to the Saints and the Orthodox faithful throughout the world.
His Grace Bishop Irinej was not able to be present, but he offered the following greeting to the children, read aloud by Fr Dragan Goronjic at the end of the service:
Thank you for being good those few days you spent together. We gather at camp, first and foremost, to learn more about our Orthodox Christian faith. Beyond that, however, our camp allows our children to build bonds amongst one another so that they may endeavor to grow together in church, and in their faith.
I hope you learned something new at this year’s winter camp, and that you will help it continue to be successful, and grow, by encouraging more of your friends to participate in future years.
May our Lord God bless you, protect you from any temptation, and preserve you for many years.
It was a wonderful gift for the children to hear a thoughtful message of greeting from their recently-enthroned Bishop Irinej.
The campers enjoyed a lunch at St George before enjoying a final social gathering at a local movie theater for the new children’s movie, “Sing”. By God’s Grace, the 2016 Akron-Canton Winter Camp proved to be both fun and enlightening for all who participated.