Reunion Dance Review, 11th Grade Grads allowed back @ camp in 2020, 12th Graders to Lighthouse!
On October 13th, Saint Demetrios in Elmhurst hosted the Fanari Reunion Dance. Every fall, the dance is a great way to get everyone from camp, from all our different parishes, together again. It’s a joy to see the campers run to friends they haven’t seen in months to give huge hugs and start laughing again about the great memories they shared this past summer. We started with a Paraklesis Service in the church and as we dismissed the kids to the dance, we held our oldest cabin, the Delphians, back for a few minutes.
At camp, getting held behind the rest of the camp after an activity ends isn’t usually a good thing, but that night we had some very special news to deliver. First, father Kosmas announced that Fanari Camp would now include the week of the 4th of July holiday bringing the total number of weeks to 5. The campers were excited to hear that. Then, Father Kosmas announced that campers going into their 12th grade year of high school would now be allowed back to camp. Keep in mind, when eleventh graders “graduate” from camp, they cry. They cry tears of joy and sadness that they have been blessed with years of friends and faith at camp and now that journey has ended. You can’t imagine the joy on the faces of these 11th graders when they were told they can do it all again in the summer of 2020.
And finally, Father Kosmas asked me to tell the campers about something new, something very special. We introduced our new Lighthouse summer camp program for graduating high school seniors. Although most of these campers were younger and would have to wait a year or two for Lighthouse, they still beamed knowing that the “gap years” when there was no summer camp program for them, were over.
I talked a little bit about how Lighthouse might resemble some aspects of Fanari but really, it was a whole new program built from the ground up to get them ready for what they will face in college. Father Kosmas reminded the campers that statistically, 60% of our youth fall away from Christianity in this critical part of their life. Lighthouse will fight the 60% and arm campers with the spiritual, psychological and practical tools they need to thrive as Orthodox Christian college students.
Seeing their faces and seeing the joy that everyone experienced at the dance reminded me of something very important. Although I get excited about things like a cool new Lighthouse logo, communications plans and t-shirt designs, the reason we (Father Kosmas and the whole team of people who work hard to make these programs happen) do this is simple. We want to help bring our campers to Christ so they can experience the joy that He brings and the joy of the brotherhood and sisterhood of their fellow Orthodox Christians.
Lighthouse 2020 will be here before we know it. Let’s go!
Chris is a long time Fanari Camp Staff Member, and has co-authored the Lighthouse Proposal.
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