The following report was delivered at the July 2013 Antiochian Archdiocese General Assembly, convened in Houston, Texas:
July 25-26, 2013
The Antiochian Archdiocese is blessed with eight camping programs which are each ministering to young people in their respective geographic areas. Each camp is unique in its characteristics and facility, yet all are following the same mission of presenting young people with a living experience of the Orthodox Christian faith. While each camp has its own mostly volunteer staff which plans and executes its program, the Department of Camping oversees each program to insure that the highest safety guidelines are followed, a consistent program is presented at all of our camps, accreditation is maintained, and oversees the distribution of the Order of St. Ignatius Scholarships to each camp.
Order of St. Ignatius Scholarships
Thanks to the generosity of the Order of St. Ignatius, $190,000 in scholarship assistance has been allocated to 872 campers who are attending one of the eight camps. $126,257 of that total was distributed through parish scholarships, and the remaining was distributed to campers who requested additional financial help. We have encouraged each of our camps to appeal to their alumni and local diocese parishes to seek additional funding for local scholarships for each camp.
Accreditation by the American Camp Association (ACA) and the Ontario Camp Association (OCA) ensures that each of our camps are upholding the highest safety, supervision, and training standards while caring for our young people. In 2012, Camp St. Mary of Egypt received their accreditation from the ACA for the first time. Antiochian Village and Camp St. Raphael will be visited this summer (2013) for reaccreditation. Camp Transfiguration has completed stage 1 of 2 for accreditation with the OCA. Camp St. John will begin the accreditation process with the ACA this year. Camp St. Nicholas, Camp St. Thekla and Camp St. George are all accredited by the ACA, and will be revisited again in 2014. The Department of Camping covers the fees for the Accreditation and ACA/OCA membership for each of our camps.
As part of the Accreditation process, a background check must be run on all new staff. To simplify the process, the Department of Camping has contracted with a company to run the background checks for all of our camps, and will cover the related expenses.
New Camp Program
A group from St. Philip Church in Edmonton, Alberta contacted the Department of Camping in the January 2013 with the goal of starting a camp program under the Antiochian Archdiocese that would reach out to youth of our Archdiocese in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, as well as those from other Orthodox jurisdictions. We have provided guidance and resources to them, and will be assisting them throughout the coming year with developing their program, finding a facility, and training of staff. They hope to establish their first camp program in the summer of 2014.
Because we expect such high standards for our camp programs, we feel that it is very important to provide professional training for the Camp Directors of each camp as well. The Department of Camping sponsors the Camp Director of each of our camps to attend the Orthodox Christian Camp and Youth Worker Conference held annually for an opportunity for professional growth and networking with other Orthodox Camp Directors. The Department also assists in sponsoring our Camp Directors to attend the ACA Tri-State Camp Conference held annually in New Jersey. Directors and staff are also encouraged to attend local and regional ACA trainings.
Camp Visitation Schedule
This summer, we are very blessed to have Christopher Shadid working for the Department of Camping. Chris is a seminarian of our Archdiocese who just graduated from Holy Cross Seminary in May with a Master of Divinity degree. Chris is the son of Fr. Don & Kh. Janet Shadid of St. Mary Church in Johnstown, PA, and has many years of experience in Youth Ministry and Camping. He has served as a counselor at the Antiochian Village, and Head Counselor for the past 4 years. Chris will be visiting the following camps this summer on behalf of the Department of Camping:
- Camp St. Raphael, Session 2 – June 30-July 6
- Antiochian Village, Session 2 – July 8-10
- Camp St. Mary of Egypt – July 14-20
- Camp St. Nicholas, Week 2 – July 21-July 27
- Camp St. John - August 7-11
- Camp St. George - August 12-17
- Camp Transfiguration, Session 2 – August 18-24
Our camps are all becoming established programs with strong local traditions. This year, Camp Transfiguration celebrated its 10th anniversary with a celebratory banquet the weekend of May 17-19, 2013. Camp St. Thekla is planning a special celebration the last weekend of September in 2013 in Franklin, TN, to mark its 10th anniversary. Camp St. Mary will also celebrate its 10th anniversary this year.
On behalf of our camping programs and all of the campers, we thank the Order of St. Ignatius for their generosity and unwavering commitment to provide scholarships to our campers. We offer our gratitude and appreciation to His Eminence Metropolitan Philip, our beloved hierarchs, and members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees for their vision and guidance in providing our young people with an Orthodox Christian camping experience. Lastly, we thank the directors, staff, donors and volunteers that work so hard all year long to run our camping programs and make a place where they can have a living experience of the Holy Orthodox Faith.
In His Service,
V. Rev. Anthony G. Yazge, Chairman
Khalil G. Samara, Vice-Chairman