7/21: Divine Liturgy and Goodbye

Our final session of the summer has come and gone and we’re so very thankful for all that we experienced and felt in our one week together. New friendships were formed and old bonds were strengthened, with Christ being the center of it all. After many pictures, and some tearful goodbyes, Session 4  is complete and the campers have all returned home, leaving the grounds of the St. Iakovos Retreat Center quiet once again.

Rounding out the theme of our week, “Four Evangelists: The Four Doors to Christ”, we celebrated the Divine Liturgy with the Very Rev. Fr. Christodoulos Margellos, Fr. Ciprian Sas, Fr. George Pappas, Fr. Athanasios Minetos and Deacon Chris Avramopoulos. What a beautiful site to see all our children worshipping together, as they stood and sang the hymns they learned in Chanting class this week! We concluded with a trisigion for our beloved Metropolitan Iakovos, Fr. Bill Chiganos and all those Fanari campers, clergy and counselors who have fallen asleep in the Lord. May their memories be eternal!

Before departure from breakfast, we ended our morning with prayer and sang the hymn, “Who is so great a God”. We pray the campers will keep that light, the Fanari, within them throughout the year and continue to attend worship services in their own parishes and build on the connection to our faith they felt this week at camp.

A big THANK YOU to all the Session 4 clergy and counselors for their love and dedication to our program, which helps bring our campers closer to the church and having a living relationship with Christ. Finally, to our amazing counselors and Core Staff, who attended all 4 sessions of camp this summer, may you take the relationships you’ve made, the experiences that have touched you and the lessons you’ve learned, and use them to grow in your faith and continue down the path that Christ has set before you. May God bless and protect you always, and may you finally get some much deserved sleep!

We give thanks to the Lord for allowing us to spend another beautiful and fulfilling summer together, in our home, at the St. Iakovos Retreat Center. We’ll see you all next year for Fanari Camp 2019!

Check out Session 4 Day 7 Photos!

7/20: Skit Night

Session 4 is coming to an end but the laughs, love and friendship will last far beyond our week together here, at Fanari Camp!

Rain showers overnight put a damper on Athletics, our Flex activity today, but our counselors led campers in some group games indoors. Discussions were being wrapped up in Bible Study and OL, and everyone was busy in Theater going through the final dress rehearsal before our evening activity tonight.

Free-time found us indoors, as the rain kept us from heading outside today. Some campers watched the movie “Shrek”, while others visited the Camp Store for last minute candy and swag purchases or just enjoyed spending some quality time with each other and working on their skits. All summer long, ice cream bars have been generously donated each day to campers, in honor of Nun Theologia. What refreshing treats for all to enjoy! Thank you!!!

We had a special visitor today, Mrs. Sophia Cocokios, whom we honored with an icon of the Panagia for preparing and baking all our prosfora for our Divine Liturgies the entire summer. May God continue to bless and keep Sophia in His loving care!

Wrapping up our last evening activity for the week, is our annual Skit Night. Andrew Poteres guided our campers all week long, to prepare their skits and entertain us tonight. Congratulations to all our performers for an outstanding evening! Even Zeno, with his words of wisdom, made a comeback this week. By far, the nights biggest hit was when counselor Georgia Danos was tricked into getting a whip cream pie in the face! Thanks for being such a great sport. The fun meter was at an all time high today!

It’s been a spirited week for all of our cabins, but after all the coins were counted, the final Spirit Winner for Session 4 is the DELPHIANS! All our campers and staff did a tremendous job showing unity, love and kindness all week long. We pray that you all keep the Holy Spirit within once you return home, with your words and actions, as you did here at camp. Great job for a fantastic week!

At Closing Day we honored the 11th graders who attended camp for their last year. We pray that they take what they learned this week and continue to grow closer to Christ and His church. Our 4 week staff, who gave of their time and talents to spend the entire summer with us, was also recognized, as were the rest of the counselors who were with us multiple and single sessions. We are truly blessed at Fanari Camp with outstanding staff and clergy who make our program come alive each session! Ending the night, Deacon Chris told us to keep the relationships that we’ve established at camp alive throughout the year, to love one another, and to have hope in the Lord. He also challenged us to take ownership of our faith and to lead others to Christ. A perfect ending to such a blessed week together, growing in our faith and learning more about ourselves and each other!

For one last time, we all sang, “Deep” and a round of “Father I Adore You” before we dismissed to our cabins for our last devotionals. Campers are packing up their belongings so they are ready to go before Divine Liturgy in the morning. May God watch over us all, as we spend our last night together before departure tomorrow.

Check out Session 4 Day 6 Photos!

7/19: Picnic Day and Dance

The fun and friendship continue, as we shift our daily schedule for our Picnic Day, where we spent the morning together, traveling to two different activities.

First our clergy entertained us with a game of Trivia, which included intriguing categories and questions. Our second rotation involved ten different “Minute to Win It” games, that showcased our campers talents at each station. It was a great morning relaxing with each other and having some good old fun!

Time to grill the souvlaki and begin our PICNIC! Watermelon, chips and lemonade rounded out the perfect picnic meal. Campers were free to roam to all our outdoor activities to enjoy the free day with friends. It was the Athenian’s turn to visit the Marina, where they navigated the boats around Friendship Lake. Campers were also able to visit the animals at the barn and enjoy Maria’s Wacky Wagon ride! Our goats, Scout and Jem welcomed the campers along with the Alpaca, horses and ducks.

Ending our picnic day was the annual Clergy/Counselor vs. Camper softball game!!! Dn. Chris and Maria gave us play by play commentary where the counselors were rallying until Metropolitan Nathanael joined in on the game, and suddenly the score went to 14-11 in the campers favor! Great sportsmanship and fun for everyone involved in today’s game!

Then it was time to Giddy up and DANCE! Campers were dressed in their finest cowboy and cowgirl attire to get to steppin’ and line dancin’ the night away. Downstairs in our outdoor fireplace, campers roasted marshmallows for s’mores, while listening to saint stories with Fr. Demetri. A fantastic night, dancing, enjoying moments together and joining in on all the fun, as one family at camp!

Before our joyous and busy day came to an end, the Athenians and Delphians were awarded our spirit sticks for the night for continually showing the light of the Holy Spirit within, throughout the day. Finally, at Closing Day, Dr. John Fotopoulos talked about being a thermostat rather than a thermometer, as a thermostat makes change and a thermometer goes along with the environment. We should all strive to be the example of the Orthodox faith and be the person that God wants us to be. Commit and be the thermostat.

What a beautiful day filled with so many of God’s blessings! We look forward to our final full day together tomorrow, and creating more memories here, at Fanari Camp.

Check out Day 5 Session 4 Photos!

7/18: Chanting and Fanari Games

Halfway through the week and we’re soaking up every minute of Session 4! Our time together is flying by and we’re so thankful for the beautiful week we’ve had so far.

As the camper’s prepared the night before, they received the holy sacrament of confession today during their Orthodox Life session. Our Flex session today was Chanting, lead by Alex Magdalinos, where we reviewed the hymns that we sing throughout the day in chapel, and also learned several hymns from the Liturgy to encourage everyone’s participation on Saturday morning. We definitely have some future Psalti’s at Fanari!

The sun was shining during free-time and campers enjoyed the many outdoor games and activities. Our Olympians visited the Marina and drifted away in our boats and canoes, while the Delphians took a ride down the water slide. Others played our new giant Jenga! and Connect Four, which were both donated through our Amazon Wish List. Thank you to our generous donors! So many fun opportunities to fill our day.

At the end of free-time, we had another Basketball Battle Royale! This time it was our clergy, the men in black, who challenged our Delphian staff to a 3 on 3 basketball game, hearing they chose black as their olympic team color for tonight’s Fanari Games. If the clergy won, the Delphians could not wear black.  If the Delphians won, the clergy would all have to go down the water slide at tomorrow’s picnic.  In a thrilling come from behind victory, the clergy won the challenge 13 to 11.  The whole camp cheered on the Delphian counselors and the clergy! What a fun ending to an amazing afternoon outdoors, enjoying our surroundings and each other’s company.

One of the weeks most highly anticipated night time activities is the Fanari Olympic Games!  The campers brought so much energy and team unity, as the Athenians and Olympians ironically came dressed in black, while the Delphians went for an earth, wind, fire and water theme for their team uniforms. In the end, the Delphians were victorious and earned the most points for the big win! Two spirit sticks were also given out to the Olympians and Athenians for their high energy, kind spirit and great sportsmanship at the games. So much excitement and enthusiasm felt throughout the camp tonight!

Our spiritual vitamin during Closing Day was given by Delphian counselor Peter Savas, who relayed a story to us about how God is in everything. Seeing nature and all its beauty and power reminds us of the glory and power of God. A heartfelt talk to end our exhilarating night. Before dismissal we sang some of our favorites Fanari songs, “I Will Magnify the Lord”, “Take My Hand”and “Father, I Adore You”.

Another energizing and uplifting day here at Fanari Camp!  All the campers are tucked into their beds, as a quietness fills the campgrounds. Looking forward to our picnic day tomorrow and all the adventures and fun that await us!

Check out Session 4 Day 4 Photos!

7/17: Diakonia and Night with the Saints

Service projects and saints, along with some fun in the sun filled our day. More exciting things happening at Fanari Camp!

Diakonia was today’s Flex session, where we learned about Orthodoxy in Korea and Guatemala. Katerina Rallis shared her experience as a camp counselor in Korea and showed photos of the campers and their camp life, which is much like our own. We also saw pictures of the original St. John the Baptist church in Ixcan, Guatemala, and also a picture of the new church that was built with love and generous donations, through the grace of God. After hearing about Christ’s Great commission on Pentecost, we had the opportunity to put together the Feast day Icon books that have been made by campers in our other 3 sessions. They will be used as teaching tools and sent to St. John the Baptist parish in Ixcan, Guatemala and taken to Korea by Katerina, who will once again be volunteering as a camp counselor this year. Please, keep our brothers and sisters in both countries in your prayers!

With free-time came the most beautiful weather! The Delphians were the first to board the boats and canoes at the new Marina. Others took to the fields and courts to play soccer, kick ball, octoball and basketball. Connie set up all our tie dye supplies so campers could turn their tshirts into colorful apparel! A few campers went slippin’ and slidin’ down our giant water slide, while others were engaged in a captivating game of outdoor Connect Four, which was generously donated from our Amazon Wish list. So many things to do to keep us busy and entertained! Wrapping up free-time our Delphian and Athenian counselors played a competitive three on three basketball game to decide who could wear the color black at our games night tomorrow. Delphians were victorious!

After dinner, Archon Dr. John Fotopoulos, educated our campers on our Patriarchate, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the five key issues the Archons have been championing for many years and also, the challenges they face. We also thank the Archons for their donation of our campers water bottles for the entire summer!

Our evening activity, “Night with the Saints”, took a hold of our attention, as we heard the miraculous stories of the saints whose holy relics were before us: Sts. Nicholas, Raphael, & Irene of Mytilini; St. Nicholas; St. Irene; The Holy Unmercinaries Kosmas & Damianos; St. Patapios and St. George. We were also anointed with Holy oil from St. John Maximovitch and St. Demetrios of Thessaloniki. As we rotated to our next session, we discussed the Holy sacrament of confession. Campers did a trust fall to represent that we let go of our sins and trust Christ to catch us. They were also able to ask questions and have time to reflect in their journals and prepare for confession tomorrow. It was a truly humbling night to learn about the traditions and holy sacraments of our Orthodox faith and be in the presence of such holiness.

Wrapping up another blessed day, our Athenians and Olympians were awarded spirit sticks for all their continued enthusiasm and stepping up their spirit throughout the day! At Closing Day, our spiritual vitamin was provided by Holy Cross graduate and Delphian counselor, Nick Lionas. He spoke on how we develop strong relationships with one another at camp, which reflect our relationships with the saints as well. As we speak to and rely on one another in our lives, we too must speak to and rely on the saints of the Church and those relationships we develop with them. The saints are truly alive in our lives!

Finally, we ended the evening chanting the beautiful hymn, “Lord of the Powers”, as this hymn reminds us that in the end, no matter what happens, we will always have God. What a blessing to be here together, to let us learn more about ourselves, each other and our Orthodox faith! Campers headed back to their cabins to settle in for the night and do their devotionals with the clergy before confession tomorrow. We thank the Lord for another blessed day here, at Fanari Camp.

Check out Session 4 Day 3 Photos!

 

7/16: Greek Culture and Game Show

To officially begin Session 4, we enjoyed a Greek themed day and it was filled with food, dance and our beautiful Hellenic Culture! OPA!

We started our first full day at Fanari Camp with an Agiasmos service, led by the Very Rev. Fr. Christodoulos Margellos. Following the blessing, we introduced the campers to “Alone with God”, where we spend a few minutes each morning spread out in silence, to be alone with our thoughts in prayer and begin our day focused on Christ. A beautiful way to fill our heart and souls with peace.

After a delicious breakfast with feta eggs, potatoes and Greek yogurt, we headed to our daily activities to begin our day. Our “Flex” session today was Greek Culture, where we journeyed through four major city states in Ancient Greece: We started with Greek dancing and learned about Ancient Athens; In Olympia we practiced our pool noodle javelin skills; in Sparta we showed our strength with exercises in boot camp; and in Delphi we built ancient Delphian ruins from play dough.

In Bible Study and Orthodox Life, we were introduced to our theme of camp this week, “Four Doors to Christ: The Four Evangelist”, where the campers will be given the opportunity to understand who the Evangelists are, what a door to Christ is, how the Evangelists are doors to Christ, and why that might be important in their lives. Creative juices were flowing in Theater, as campers and staff began brainstorming ideas for skits. So much fun and learning, as we explore more about our faith and culture!

Our Greek themed lunch of Gyros, tzatziki sauce and pitas were just what we needed after such a busy morning, to get us powered up for Free-time! Campers explored the different activities available to enjoy. Each cabin rotated down to the Marina today to learn the rules and sign up to go boating on their assigned day this week. Others cooled down on our giant water slide, while the courts and fields were packed with campers playing sports. The Main Lodge was filled with campers playing card games, making friendship bracelets and loading up on swag and snacks at the Camp Store. What a fun afternoon, relaxing and getting to know each other, at Fanari Camp!

And for our last Greek fix of the day, Plateia Mediterranean Kitchen in Glenview, IL and the Papadatos family, generously donated our entire dinner. We thought Yia Yia was in the kitchen, it was so delicious! Pastichio, Greek chicken, potatoes, briámi, spanakopita, tiropita and Greek salad, too! No one went away hungry, as we wrapped up an amazing day, celebrating our heritage and culture.

Then it was time for “Let’s Make A Deal!” Our evening activity brought campers and counselors dressed up and ready to play for big prizes and avoid the dreaded ZONK! So much fun answering questions for Camp Store bucks and playing silly games, too! Then it was time for some entertainment, led by our super talented counselors Peter, Andrew, Jeremy, Diana, Nick and John. We quieted down to make rain, went on a wild roller coaster ride, tested our sharpness with “Boomba, Hey” and sang silly repeat after me songs about Bazooka Bubblegum. Rounding out the night, we sang a few Fanari favorites, Deep, Pharoah, Pharoah, Seek Ye First, and I AM A CHRISTIAN.  A perfect ending to our first evening activity of the week. We’re packing in all kinds of fun and it’s only our first day!

We concluded the evening with Closing Day in the Main Lodge, where we listened to Louie Pappas, from Saint Demetrios, Chicago, quiz our campers on many famous foursomes, which they all answered correctly.  The Four Evangelists should be just as famous to us as the others and we should be willing and able to witness our faith to those around us. We can all be evangelists for Christ just as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were. Tonight’s 1st Spirit Sticks went out to the Olympians and Delphians! Truly, the Holy Spirit was shining through them all day long.

Campers headed back to their cabins to settle in for the night and do their devotionals. We will all sleep well after such a full and blessed day together. Glory be to God!

Check out Session 4 Day 2 Photos!

Fanari Camp Session 4 begins!

The Final session of the summer is here! We eagerly awaited for all our campers to arrive to begin what we pray will be another spiritually uplifting week together!

Campers unpacked and settled in with their cabin mates, before we all headed down to dinner. Deacon Chris then welcomed us and lead our orientation, where he explained our rules and procedures, and also introduced our new Marina, where we can go boating during free-time. We met all our staff, clergy and  amazing and spirited counselors and discovered what ice cream flavor is their favorite! Then everyone learned about earning spirit coins and how we can show that we have the Holy Spirit within us all week and receive spirit sticks as a cabin each night. Camp Store will be open tomorrow at free time, so we got a preview of all the cool Fanari swag and snacks that will be available to buy!

Finally, we went through a rotation of each of our daily activities: Orthodox Life, Bible Study, Theater, and “Flex”, where we will rotate with Greek Culture, Diakonia, Chanting and Athletics each day. Afterwards, we enjoyed the ultimate Orthodox Sundae Bar, with an ice cream social and all the  delicious toppings we could pile in our bowls. What a fun 1st night at Fanari Camp!

As our night came to an end, we gathered in the Main Lodge for our chapel service, led by Fr. George Pappas from SS. Constantine & Helen, Merriville IN. Campers then went back to their cabins to do their first devotionals with their counselors and get ready for lights out. A truly peaceful way to end our first night together.

Session 4 of Fanari Camp is off to a great start! We look forward to all the memories we’ll make this week together. See you tomorrow for the beginning of what we know will be another blessed week of camp!

Check out Session 4 Day 1 Photos!