Fanari 2019 – Day 1 Has Begun

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Hello! My name is Alexandra N. and it is my first time as a Fanari counselor! I loved being a camper and now, I am so glad that I can help my campers create great experiences of their own. It is the first day of camp and everyone is super pumped up for Greek night tonight.

The day has been going fantastic so far and all the kids are having an amazing time. I am in charge of the Athenian cabin, and our first activity today was Orthodox life, where we discussed how we show that we love God and how God shows that he loves us. The next rotation was flex, where each cabin learned a different Greek dance that they are going to perform tonight in front of the whole camp. I can confidently say that the Athenians excelled at the Kalamatanio during practice. Our third activity was bible study. By looking at verses’ in Isaiah, John, and Genesis, we discovered examples and again explored the theme of “God is love.” The last and fourth activity, omada (or “team”), has yet to be done but we are planning on making a cabin flag and creating some original chants. This session is led by us, the counselors, and it is a great addition to the schedule as the counselors get an opportunity to introduce and guide the campers toward being a true family in Christ. Hopefully throughout the week, the kids start getting more comfortable with each other and the awesome staff members who lead each session.

Last night was our first devotional with the campers, and they really got a chance to bond with their fellow peers and counselors. Starting off with icebreakers, we are planning on diving deeper as we explore our faith and our lives. The theme of Christian Agape truly sums up what this camp is all about.

2019 Fanari | Session 3 Day 5 | American Dance

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Happy Friday! Today is our last full day and we can not believe how fast this session has flown by.

Yesterday we had an unconventional schedule because it was our picnic day. We started our day off a little different than usual. Instead of Orthros, we had each cabin wake up and pray all together as a cabin to show that we do not need a chapel to pray. We then moved into sessions. The first session, cabins were split up and they participated in a group activity called “Tap Someone”. This activity is where a small group of the cabin stands in a circle where the rest are sitting with their eyes closed. Counselors read statements and the group in the center of the circle goes around and taps someone who they think fit the discretion of that statement. The second session was team building activities out in our athletic field. Campers brought their spirit during these activities and cheered together when they completed them.

After sessions, we moved into our picnic time. After filling up on souvlaki and karpouzi (watermelon), campers were ready for free time. Free time was filled with lots of sports, slide rides and enjoying being outside. We finished free time with the annual camper vs counselor/clergy softball game. In a very exciting game the counselor/clergy team pulled ahead and scored the winning run in the last inning.

Christmas came early after free time when campers got dressed for our American Dance.   Santa’s, elves and reindeer (oh my!) not only danced their way through the night but also got to enjoy hot chocolate and cookie decorating. Mr. D also told stories at our new bonfire during the dance.

Closing time was filled with lots of singing as always and a great spiritual vitamin given by Louie Pappas. The Spartan and the Athenian cabins won our spirit sticks last night, the truly showed what spirit is all about.

Tonight is skit night and we are so excited to see our campers come together one last time for a night filled with lots of laughter and of course love. Although we are sad this is our last full day, we are making it the Best Day Ever!

-MariaElena Kouriabalis

 

Fanari Session 3 – Confession and Olympics

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We are more then halfway through our week, and what a week it has been. Day 4 of camp offered campers lots of love, spirit and togetherness.

Our day started off as usual with Orthros in the morning, and then moving into our sessions. Sessions included campers helping finish the new fire pit, creating bamboo towers, talking about how we can show love to ourselves and others during Bible study and of course participating in the sacrament of confession. This gave them the opportunity to strengthen their bond with not only Christ but themselves.

God blessed us with a gorgeous day and free time was filled with sand volleyball, boat rides, tie-dying, soccer and lots of turns down the water slides. After cooling off during dinner and chapel, cabins readied themselves for the long awaited Fanari Olympic Games.

Cabins dressed to the nine for the games bringing along many different accessories and so much spirit. After opening ceremonies each cabin preformed cabin chants to show off who had the most spirit. Tensions ran high as the games got going. However, all night every camper, counselor and staff member showed that they had the Holy Spirit within them by continually chanting, being good sports and having fun. Our Games came to an end the way they always do with the Ballon Game. After our final game campers and staff headed to the chapel for closing day.

At closing time we found out that the Spartan Cabin won the Fanari Games and are now champions carrying the ever important Fanari Games trophy. But the wins didn’t stop there. Two cabins were awarded with spirit sticks last night, those cabins were the Delphians and the Olympians!  We then had a special guest come and visit us at camp. Father George Lamberis showed up with guitar in hand to lead the camp in some of our favorite closing day songs. After songs, Katerina Rallis (one of our Program Coordinators) gave our spiritual vitamin. She talked about the importance of being apart of a living breathing faith.

Day 4 provided our campers with love, spirit and the feeling of togetherness. It felt like it was something out of a movie once we hit the chapel for closing day you could feel it in the air. This week is truly teaching our campers what Christian Agape is all about.

We are so excited for the days to come!

Here’s to making it the Best Day Ever!!

-MariaElena Kouriabalis and Vasilia Athens

 

 

Fanari 2019 Session 3 – Saint Sava’s

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Day three offered Fanari Camp many blessings and surprises alike, from a night with a Saint, to an unexpected detour…

The day began with Orthros served by Fr. Panagiotis, who enlightened the camp with his sermon on staying true to God’s calling, regardless of others’ criticism.

After daily activities, including a discussion on the true meaning of “Agape” (or Ah-gah-peh, as some scholars call it) in Bible Study , a zombie-themed lesson on self-love with Fr. Panagiotis in OL, a “sticky situation” for team building in Omada, and Byzantine chanting in Flex, it was finally time to travel as a camp to Saint Sava monastery in Libertyville, IL.  The camp quickly boarded buses to visit the incorrupt body of Saint Mardarije.

After the buses safely arrived, campers filed into a beautiful chapel, filled floor to ceiling with illustrious icons.  As soon as one entered the building, they could hear the quiet gasps of all as they took in the holiness there.  A brief history of Saint Mardarije given joyfully by one of the Serbian priest who was actually at St. Sava when everything happened, and campers were then given the honor of venerating the Saint’s incorrupt relics.  The Chapel was *almost* silent during this deep spiritual experience, a rarity at Fanari camp.

The remains of the day were spent at St. Sava, watching the sun go down , spending alone time with God while preparing for Wednesday’s Holy Confession, and listening intently to Fr. Kosmas’ “spiritual vitamin” (which left campers both inspired and ruminating on NHL draft picks for this season).

While returning home, some campers hit a (literal) road block.  The Delphian bus had a maintenance issue that required stopping, and the cabin fell behind.  Awaiting to be picked up the campers made their way toward the glowing lights of a nearby rest stop, and to safety and more importantly, bathrooms.  All were returned safely back to camp, just in time for devotionals with the guidance of our spiritual fathers, and (eventually) bed. It was an absolute blessing and I am looking forward to the rest of the week to come.

– Grace Govostis

Fanari 2019 – Session 3

The week began as I thought it would. Sunday afternoon we greeted all of our lovely new campers as there excited smiles sprinkled the main lodge and the parents long goodbyes did there best to embarrass the prepubescent little faces. Once settled into their new homes for the week we all gathered for dinner and orientation in the cafeteria. After all my campers ate their dinner, and let me say that I make sure that they did, it was time for orientation. Doing their utmost to stay attentive, the campers were introduced to the entirety of the Fanari staff. Father Kosmas began with the sparkling smile that he always does and the rest of the staff followed suit introducing themselves and their various roles from program director to counselors and everything in between. The campers were then given a small sampling of the different station that they would be diving into throughout the course of the week. All of this leading up to the best part of Sunday night, the ice cream social. The ice cream social gives all of our campers a chance to not only make a fabulously delicious ice cream Sunday but also to interact with each other, make new friends, and get to know their counselors. A fantastic first day concluded with chapel with all of the cabins praying together and devotional time where each cabin talks amongst themselves and reflects on the day.

Day 2 began as a regular day but as I would soon find out would turn into something truly special. On Monday we were graced with a visit from Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. Archbishop Elpidophoros of America is a bishop of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and since 22 June 2019, he is the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. He became the first citizen of Turkey to hold the post and it was such a blessing for not only all of the campers but everyone involved with Fanari to get a chance to receive a blessing from his Eminence. It is not everyday that someone so loved and elevated comes to visit our campers and although some may not have known at the time, hopefully they will realize in the future how great a blessing it was to receive a blessing and a prayer book from Archbishop Elpidophorors. I know that looking back I will always remember his Eminence talking about his own camping experience and how although you may not remember every bible study lesson, through camp we not only create relationships that can last a lifetime but that Fanari can and will be for many of us the foundation for our Orthodox Faith.

I am looking forward to the rest of the week and we apologize for the delay in the uploading of pictures. There have been some technical difficulties that are being sorted out. Please continue to check the Flickr page as well as the Fanari Facebook for pictures and updates.

https://www.facebook.com/fanaricamp/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gochicagoyouth/albums/

Fanari 2019 – Confession & Olympics (Week 2)

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There is one major similarity between every week, and even every year, at Fanari Camp. That similarity is that we all grow closer together and to God through our Wednesday activities. Something special always seems to “click” after Wednesday. Cabins are closer than they were when the week started and you can feel the love of God, the Agape, resounding between each and every person here at Fanari Camp.

The staff has noticed this major shift the past few years and have been attempting to help this feeling occur earlier in the week through our awesome new “Omada” (Team) session. This session is a great opportunity for campers to grow as a team within their cabin, through activities such as flag making, creating a cabin handshake, getting the cabin across our giant “spider web”, and many more. While I do feel that these activities are having a wonderful impact on our campers, there is just something special about Wednesdays here.

Maybe it is the Olympics. On Wednesday night, the entire camp went up to the tennis (basketball) courts to compete in the Fanari Olympic Games, decked out in blackout, whiteout, USA, and Greek colors. These games are the ultimate team-building activity here at Fanari Camp and every camper, counselor, and even staff members get so hyped up for them. There are different relay races and games of chance where each cabin is cheering on their teammates and supporting each other in victory and defeat. This year, the championship came down to the final game: balloon tag. In this game, ten boys and ten girls from each cabin tie a balloon around their ankle and hop on one foot trying to pop other campers’ balloons. This week, it came down to the wire. Four Delphian campers had an Olympian cornered, but the Olympian somehow pulled off the win for this game and what turned out to be for the whole of the Olympics! Regardless of what cabin wins, each and every camper seems truly happy and excited. This leads to my next thought of why the camp becomes so close after the games.

Normally, when you lose a competition, there is disappointment and even sometimes anger. Not here. I believe that this is because of what we do earlier in the day. During Orthodox Life (OL), campers are given the opportunity to experience the sacrament of confession. This is what I believe truly brings the camp together, not team building or competition alone. After so many of our campers have gone through this beautiful sacrament, they are wiped clean of sin and anything that has been weighing them down. Their souls become “white as snow” and they can truly grow closer together through Christ.

Wednesday is also important because it marks the halfway point of our journey. Tomorrow (today as I am writing this) is our picnic day, which always goes by like *this*, then we have our last full day, and finally close out camp with Liturgy and communion.

– Gray Kafkes

Gray is a Spartan counselor for this week and will be here for all four weeks this summer. He has been counseling at Fanari Camp since 2015.

Fanari 2019 -Monastery Trip

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(Click above for pictures)

Camp so far has been amazing! I am lucky to have such fun kids as my campers. They love to have a lot of fun and are full of energy, but they are also old enough and mature enough to have talks with at night. All of these kids have such great ideas for things like different games to play, things to do or say for our skits, and so much more. Overall we  have really started to feel like a big family.

We woke up Tuesday morning and got the kids in the showers and ready for church and the rest of the morning activities. The other counselors and I love to sing with the kids to fully wake up. They are a big fan of the Byzantine hymns that they hear in chapel everyday.

During Orthodox life (OL) we talked about the Prodigal Son and a modern take on it. Then we would discuss what the story is about and how it shows God’s love for us and our love for God. The most popular answer was that God loves us and will always take us back without question, just like a dad would his son. After OL, we went to bible study where we talked about the different words for love in the Greek language and what each word meant. Then we read various passages from the Bible and looked through different parts to see what some examples of each kind of love are. After we read parts of the Bible, the kids would then try to make a modern example of these different stories.

Before we went to St. Sava Monastery, I had a talk with my kids about what they thought about saints and if they had any questions about going to see an in-corrupt saint. Many of them had the same question, “What does a saint look like?” And we discussed what we would see in regards to the relics and the rest of the church and monastery.

During devo, we started by talking about what we saw at the monastery and what impacted the kids the most. The majority of their responses to seeing an in-courpted saint was, “I thought he was going to look different. I think that a lot of the campers didn’t realize that he looked like just a normal human.” The biggest reaction was seeing that saints are normal people and aren’t some mythical creature. Next the staff and I talked to them about what they would be doing today (Wednesday) which is confession. We asked them if they have ever heard of it, have they done it, what it feels like going in before and walking out after, and answering questions if they had any.

It has been an amazing start to the week with already so many memories and so much to talk about.

– Charles Cassis