Saint Barbara Summer Camp
The Saint Barbara Summer Camp Program was established in the summer of 1997 as a one-week long summer day camp that takes place on the spacious grounds of our parish. The program, written and designed by Presbytera Vangie Orfanakos (M.T.S. Holy Cross School of Theology) is centered on a ten-year cycle of spiritually based themes. Each ‘theme of the week’ is further subdivided into five ‘sub-themes’ with ‘words of the day’ that serve to further develop the camper’s understanding of their faith and the overall theme.
In many ways, the Saint Barbara Camp serves as a lynch pin to the other youth ministries of our parish. The friendships that take root during the week of camp continue to grow and flourish through the JOY and GOYA programs as well as the Catechetical and Greek Language Schools of our Church.
The camp program encompasses more than what meets the eye. By operating a volunteer based program there is an opportunity for every generation to participate in this youth centered event! Seniors well into their seventies and eighties enjoy the daily camp activities as much as the youth, because the spiritual work that is done at camp has no boundaries or divisions. The camp’s beauty is that it embraces all with the Love of Christ as the heartbeat and pulse of the core curriculum leads to everyday faith learning. We have many volunteers who have been through our camp program as campers, as counselors, as staff, and now they send their children to share in the same camp joy that was offered to them through the spiritually alive Saint Barbara Camp Program.
During each day the campers participate in the following:
Orthodox Life Session, Arts Session, Skit & Scatter Session, Life Adventures Session, Campfire Songs Session, Athletics Session, Crafts Session and Olympics.
Orthodox Life Session: During ‘OL’ campers learn about various teachings of the Church that each revolve around the ‘theme of the week’ and the ‘word of the day.’ Campers are assured to learn about the Church Fathers, Church Mothers, Church Saints and lessons from the Bible that strengthen their already growing faith. Music, books, and hands-on session starters are integrated into the lesson plans keeping the campers and counselors alert and interested in the topic of the day.
Arts Session & Crafts Session: In these two separate sessions the children work on projects throughout the week that reflect and further develop the themes of the week and day. A conscientious effort has been made to create projects that last and serve as reminders in the child’s home of the lessons that they have learned at camp. In fact, many of the first campers in 1997 still have their projects displayed in their rooms! There is also an “Overflow” group where campers can work on various group projects and other smaller crafts while their main projects ‘dry.’ This group session allows for some “extras” such as camper created beaded items - always a hit!
Many of the Camp Art Projects or Craft Projects have been made from various materials including working with paint, kites, concrete, stone, slate, ceramic pots (turned into lighthouses) paper mosaics, wood, clay, glass, gourds (turned into bird houses) and even camper created clocks and lamps have all been part of the Saint Barbara Summer Camp program over the years. We also integrate ‘green projects’ into our curriculum.
Life Adventures Session: This session provides an opportunity for campers to see and hear from people in our church community who are real-life examples of how to be a practicing Orthodox Christian and be able to carry out the tasks of their everyday life, while staying true to the teachings of the Church. Over the years campers have learned from: doctor, dentist, lawyer, judge, nurse, actor, news reporter, potter, clay artisan, U.S. Marine, policeman, fireman, emergency medical technician, physical therapist, restaurant owner, donut maker, bee keeper, horse trainer, dog trainer, seeing-eye-dog trainer, stay-at-home mom, teacher, cyclist, angler, college student, fencer, priest, librarian, hair stylist and donut maker, just to name a few! Campers have also created and baked koulourakia through lessons from our Hellenic Heritage Baking session and created homemade pizza dough and pizzas! Yum!
Skit & Skatter Session: In this session campers are challenged to express their creative nature. Each day, the staff member in charge offers a brief reflection centered on the theme of the week and day. Campers are then provided with an opportunity to gather in small groups with the assistance of their counselors and by using the various trunks, filled with props and soft cloth materials suitable for attire changes, they come up with various skits, songs, or dance routines that best express the theme.Campers create skits and showcase them to their fellow campers. This session involves lots of creative thinking, problem solving and social skills.
Music Session: This melodic, breezy fun-filled session allows the campers to express their faith in song. In this session campers learn the theme song of that year’s camp program as well as other songs specifically assigned to fit in with the themes of the week and day. Campers also have an opportunity to sing many of the popular camp songs that they have learned throughout the years of camp in the intimate setting of their group.
Athletics Session: This session provides a wonderful opportunity for the campers to learn to work together through exercise. Teamwork and sportsmanship, as well as character can all be built up in this session during development and enhancement of the campers’ natural play skills involved in sports. In this group the campers may play kick-ball, soccer, field hockey with padded sticks, whiffle ball, parachute games and more.
Olympics: The campers also participate in daily Olympic competition that includes many diverse contests like the Giant Rubber Band Relay, the Giant Beach Ball Relay, Hula-Hoop Relay, Scooter Relay, Sack Race and Tug of War. The events culminate in the Mega Relay Race that includes two water slides! This celebratory time reminds us of the ancient Olympiad that the ancient Greeks set into place for us to follow throughout history as champions of faith and culture as we integrate our heritage into our celebration of sports and challenge our human abilities to work together in teams, generating a healthy environment for cultivating joyfulness and team spirit.
Campfire Songs: Each day ends with a giant Campfire Song Session. This end of the day group gathering invites all of the voices of campers, counselors and staff to melodiously bond together through music as the halls of the church are filled with the harmonies of camp songs learned yearly and passed on as “camp favorites” year after year! Smiles, fun and a good time is had by all as this event closes the camp activities for the day and prepares the camper for the next day’s excitement, as well as leaving the tunes that teach them lingering in their minds for the night! Many leave for home singing, humming, and whistling their favorite camp tunes!
Food and Snacks: Daily nourishment is provided not only by the daily bread of God’s Good Word, but also by sustaining the health of campers by providing nourishing home cooked nutritionally based meals and some fun snacks too. The Camp Cupcake display really does provide a way for each camper to “take the cake” as they each depart the camp week with a memorable Camp Cupcake in hand for the ride home!
Summer Camp Charitable Giving: Campers are taught that charitable giving is a huge part of the Christian life. We make this component something we integrate into our Camp Program by cultivating a spirit of giving. Each year a different charity is chosen. Campers either provide a charitable gift such as usable clothing, shoes, socks, or a donation that is given directly to support ministries that reach out to people in need. Collections from our Summer Camp Program have supported: local families in need, local clothing shelters, FOCUS North America, Orthodox Christian Mission Center; Project Mexico, Hogar Raphael Ayau Orthodox Orphanage.
Sponsor a Camper: It is also possible for anyone interested to provide funding for a camper through our church Agape fund. See Father Peter for more details. We hope this allows every child the opportunity to come to Camp without concerns of financial constraints.
Camp Fest takes place on the final day of camp that includes a retrospective slide show reminding campers, counselors, staff, parents, grandparents and Saint Barbara community of all the week’s activities and fun.
Volunteers: The backbone of our parish’s camp ministry is the many volunteers of all ages who donate their time and talent to serve as both Counselors and Staff Members. Each year nearly two hundred individuals participate in making our camping program memorable in the lives of its participants. All the participants in the camp receive a Saint Barbara Camp T-shirt. Each year the specially designed T-shirt reflects the Camp Theme and reminds all who wear or see the shirt of this unique program to give Glory to God!
The Saint Barbara Summer Camp Program has been built up by faith, dedication and love for Christ and His Church. One seed at a time, one week at a time, one year at a time this program has grown and nourished the youth of Saint Barbara parish as well as many other participants from various churches throughout Connecticut and beyond.
Summer Camp Program for 4 and 5 year olds.
We give thanks to God as we are provided the opportunity to provide a specialized Half-Day Camp Program to our young 4 and 5 year old campers. This branch of our camping ministry incorporates lessons specifically designed to meet the developmental skills of pre-school children. These very young campers are provided opportunities to enjoy daily walks on the church grounds with their counselors as part of a large group outing. They also get to experience learning about God’s nature first hand when they are outdoors exploring His world.
The campers play outdoor and indoor games, enjoy a snack, have lunch, and join the larger camp group for morning prayer time in the church. In their own camp classroom, these youngsters get to experience the challenges of learning not only about their Christian faith, but also through many activities that bring forth adventures in tactile learning through crafts, as well as learning the importance of touch and other sensory skills.
This program promotes the child’s growth by instilling principles of faith in them through fun activities and lessons centered around scripture and healthy creative learning through Camp theme centered lesson plans.
Through the prayers of Great and Holy Barbara, our patron Saint, we offer thanks to God for all of the blessings He has brought forth throughout our camping ministry.
THY WILL BE DONE - Saint Barbara Summer Camp 2016
Celebrate the 20th year of Saint Barbara Summer Camp with us by viewing the plethora of photos presented in this year's spiritually uplifting and upbeat Slide Show.
A special thank you to our wonderful volunteer Staff and Counselors for your unique and very much needed role in the Summer Camp 2016 Program at Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church. In no way would have this year’s program have been such a success without your help. Each person that gives of their time adds to the gifts offered as a whole to help Campers grow in faith. Your help added to the already established building blocks of their life. May the Lord’s blessing be upon you for your good works. To God Be The Glory!
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