Fanari Camp 2017 Reunion Dance

Summer is over, but the friendships and fun of Fanari Camp live on….it’s REUNION TIME!!!

Come enjoy a night of music, dancing, food and fellowship with all your Fanari friends! A Fanari Vespers service will begin at 7:00pm, with dancing and dinner to follow. Gather your friends, new and old, to reconnect and enjoy the night together, as one family in Christ. Hope to see you there!

When: Sunday, October 8, 2017

Time: 7:00pm Fanari Vespers/7:30-10:00pm Dance

Hosted by: SS. Peter & Paul Greek Orthodox Church, 1401 Wagner Rd. Glenview, IL.

Cost: $10 Includes DJ and Pizza


Saturday 7/22: Divine Liturgy and Goodbye Fanari Camp 2017!

Another incredible summer of Fanari Camp is in the books. The grounds of the St. Iakovos Retreat Center are quiet now, but the spirit of our campers will continue to be felt throughout!

The culmination of our beautiful week was attending Divine Liturgy before our departure today. The Very Rev. Fr. Christodoulos Margellos, Fr. George Pappas, Fr. Panteleimon Dalanis, Fr. Peter Sarolas and Deacon Chris Avramopoulos, celebrated the Divine Liturgy together and chanted a trisigion for our beloved Metropolitan Iakovos, Fr. Bill Chiganos, and all those Fanari campers, counselors, clergy and benefactors of the St. Iakovos Retreat Center, who have fallen asleep in the Lord. May their memory be eternal!

Today was the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene and St. Markella. The Very Rev. Fr. Christodoulos Margellos spoke in his sermon about how in our society, we raise up strong and successful women as an example to our younger generation of girls, which is good and right. However, we should also look at the woman saints and martyrs of the church, like St. Markella, and especially the Panagia, who are also role models and women to emulate for their spiritual strength and convictions towards Christ. May they intercede for us all!

As the time has come to say goodbye, we thank all the Session 4 clergy and counselors for giving a week of their time and talents, to minister to the youth of our Metropolis. It’s because of their love and dedication to our program, that we are nourished in our Orthodox faith, which has brought us together for a memorable week of worship, laughter and friendship.

Finally, to our phenomenal counselors and Core Staff, who attended all 4 sessions this summer, may you be blessed; may you be strengthened; may you always continue down the path to Christ; and may you finally get some sleep. 🙂 

It’s been a blessing to share our daily activities and photos with you each session. Farewell, for the last time, from Fanari Camp 2017!  May God bless and watch over you all, for the remainder of your summer.

In Christ,                                                                                                               Diakonissa Nicole

Check out Session 4 Day 7 Photos!

Friday 7/21: Arts & Crafts, Skit Night

Our beautiful week together is just about over, and as sad as we are that it’s ending, we’re so thankful for the opportunity to be together and grow in our faith and friendships this week, as one family in Christ at Fanari Camp.

We wrapped things up today with our theme, “The Apostle Paul, Christ’s Great Athlete, A Champion to Imitate” by going through our final rotations of Bible Study, Orthodox Life and Theater, where we had dress rehearsal for our skits. Our “Flex” session was Arts and Crafts, where Alex Magdalinos taught everyone how to create a mosaic icon using tiles. Everyone enjoyed free time activities indoors and out, and getting all the swag and snacks they wanted before Camp Store closed.

After a week of preparation in Theater, we ended our final evening activity with “Skit Night”. Chrysanthy Agos and all the counselors did a great job coordinating the evening’s skits, and the campers enjoyed watching each other’s hilarious performances. We definitely have some theatrical and entertaining campers!!!

When it was time to announce our 2017 Session 4 Spirit Winners, no one was more surprised than the winners themselves, the OLYMPIANS!!! Huge congratulations to all the campers and counselors who embraced the Fanari Spirit all week long. Our four 11th graders were also recognized, whether it was their 1st or 6th year attending camp: Michael Ketchum, Gabriel Tosh, Steve Savas and Panagiotis Kurtis. Also, visiting since Thursday, Nicky Kotsinis, from our special needs ministry, “Pick Up Your Cross and Follow Me” has ended his 11th grade year with us, as well. We hope that Fanari will always hold a special place in all their hearts and that they keep all they’ve gained from their experiences here, with them always.

We ended our last Closing Day with a slideshow of all the great memories during the week and a heart felt THANK YOU to all our 4 week staff: Chrysanthe Agos, Ari Cussick, Alex Klonis, Cassandra Mezzines, John Anton, Gray Kafkes, Sam Liadakis, as well as our 4 week Core Staff, Dn. Chris Avramopoulos, Diakonissa Nicole Avramopoulos, Alex Magdalinos, Maria Pentaris, Chris Chakonas, Connie Savas and Nick Kirkeles, who have been busy planning the summer since last year.

Finally, Deacon Chris spoke on what a beautiful week we had, and how our friendships and faith in Christ grew during our week together. We should not let what we learned and experienced here stay at camp, but bring it back to our homes, families, friends and our communities.

Before dismissal, everyone sang together one last time, “Deep”, Pharaoh, Pharaoh”  and “Seek Ye First”. What seemed like a long week ahead of us, has quickly brought us to an end. Today we created so many memories, with friends, new and old. Thank you, Lord, for blessing us with beautiful moments together at Fanari Camp this week! Campers are all packed up and ready to go for departure, after Divine Liturgy tomorrow. 1 more day….see you at chapel in the morning for our final goodbyes.

 Check out Session 4 Day 6 Photos!


Thursday 7/20: Picnic Day and Dance

Time to take a break from our Daily Schedule and enjoy our Picnic Day!!!  We spent the morning rotating to different activities before lunch, and had a day of unlimited free-time and fun!

Following chapel and “Alone with God”, we headed to breakfast to get charged up for a busy morning of activities. Some campers started at the “St. Paul Challenge Course”, where the campers rotated through sessions, representing the different stages of St. Paul’s life.

Fr. Panteleimon and Sara Pessimisses took us through the first stop, the Road to Damascus in the woods, blindfolded, to represent how St. Paul was blinded on his journey. Then campers joined Fr. Dimitri Tobias, to celebrate St. Lydia’s baptism by chanting the hymn, “All those who have been baptized, into Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia!”  Next was the imprisonment of St. Paul and Silas, where campers illustrated their steadfastness by all working together to stand on a small platform with John Fotopoulos.  Finally, to demonstrate the brutal stoning of St. Stephen, of whom St. Paul persecuted before his conversion, campers played what they thought was a game of dodge ball with Fr. George Pappas, before they realized the brutal stoning that took place to this martyr. 

While half the campers were on the “St. Paul Challenge Course”, the other half put their Trivia skills to the test, with Fr. Ciprian Sas. The categories included sports, world history, pop culture, Greek History, Geography and church. They also learned about the meaning of the items on the altar table, with Fr. Christodoulos Margellos.

Then it was finally time to fire up the grill and feast on a delicious lunch of souvlaki, pita, tzatziki, watermelon and chips! As our Delphian boys would say, “Water! Hydration!”. It was a hot and humid day, but everyone found themselves enjoying basketball, soccer, volleyball and some went swimming to cool off.  Campers also had the opportunity to visit the farm on “Maria’s Wacky Wagon Ride”, where Farmer Joe’s tractor took them on a tour of the grounds, so that they could visit the barn to see the animals. Everyone stood in line to hold the sweet kitten, meet the new and adorable goats named Jem & Scout, and pet our beautiful peacock!

Before our afternoon ended, the entire camp came together for our annual Counselor vs Camper softball game! We had some tough competitors and close calls, but fun was had by all who participated and observed. So many different opportunities happening at Fanari Camp this week! 

After dinner, it was time to go back…..back in time! The“Blast From the Past” Dance, with DJ Chrys Cross, was filled with tie dye and flower power, poodle skirts and 80’s neon! We danced to some great oldies like “Don’t Stop Believin”, “Mickey”, and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”. Some of our campers also enjoyed heading to the fireplace and roasting marshmallows to make s’mores, and listening to saint stories with Alex Magdalinos and Fr. Dimitri Tobias. A fun way to wrap up this full day of fellowship and fun with each other!

Following the dance, Sara Pessimiss spoke at Closing Day, and talked to the campers about “unplugging” from technology. While attending Ionian Village in Greece, she had the opportunity to unplug and focus on prayer and personal reflection. Her message was to put the devices down and don’t be distracted. Take time to appreciate your surroundings and connect to the people in your life.

Our Spirit Sticks were awarded to the Olympians and Spartans tonight, for all their energy and enthusiasm throughout the day. We’re nearing the end of our time together, but are so thankful for the memories we’re creating each day. 

All is quiet and calm in camp tonight. What a fulfilling day together, as one family in Christ, enjoying all the blessings at Fanari Camp. Goodnight and God Bless!

Check out Session 4 Day 5 Photos!

Wednesday 7/19: Athletics, Confession, Night with the Saints

We’re halfway through the week and once again enjoying another enlightening day at Fanari Camp!

In preparation for receiving Holy Communion at the Divine Liturgy on Saturday, we all participated in the sacrament of Holy Confession during OL. Thank you to our visiting clergy, Fr. Nicholas Georgiou and Fr. Leo Gavrilos, who served along side Very Rev. Fr. Christodoulos Margellos, Fr. George Pappas, Fr. Panteleimon Dalianis, Fr. Ciprian Sas, Fr. Peter Sarolas, Fr. Panagiotis Boznos and Fr. Dimitri Tobias, to hear confessions. A beautiful opportunity to free us of all the sins that weigh us down. 

With rain heading in tonight, we switched up our “Flex” activity today with Athletics, so we could enjoy being out on the fields one last day. Campers played some exciting games of kickball, volley ball and a round of Octoball! 

The temperature is rising outside each day, but our athletic fields and courts were filled with friendly competition during free time. Other’s stayed cool inside the Main Lodge, visiting the Camp Store, making bracelets and enjoying their 1 free ice cream bar per day, generously donated in honor of Nun Theologia.

Tonight’s evening activity was the miraculous, “Night with the Saints”. Rotating between two activities, we first welcomed Fr. Loukas Gikas who brought relics of St. John Chrysostom, St. John the Baptist, St. George, the Holy Cross, St. Paul, St. Nicholas, St. Basil, St. Constantine, St. Helen, St. Anna, SS. Nicholas, Raphael and Irene and many more for us to venerate. We learned that the saints are an extension of Christ, and when we pray to the saints, we ask them to intercede for us. We venerate the relics because they bring us closer to Christ. These saints remind us that our faith is real and Christ is true. We also had the blessing of being anointed with the Holy Myrrh from the weeping icon of St. John the Baptist at Assumption, Homer Glen, IL.

Our next rotation was with Fr. Dimitri Tobias who relayed stories of saints, the miracles they performed and the healing powers of their relics. The campers enjoyed watching a “Be the Bee” video about relics and how the campers at Ionian Village in Greece, visit the Island of Zakynthos to venerate the relics of St. Dionysios.  A truly inspiring night, discovering the intricate nature of the relationship between Christ and his saints. 

Rounding out our evening activity was our traditional Sing-a-long. Leo Fotos treated us by playing the guitar and leading everyone in some rousing renditions of, “Deep”, “Pharaoh, Pharaoh”, and “I Am a C”. We ended with an action packed “Boomba! Hey!”, “Boom Chicka Boom”,  and campers made their own indoor “rain” with their hands, which was the pinnacle of our fun evening together. 

At Closing Day, counselor Anthony Ruggerio talked about an experience he had venerating the miraculous icon of the Panagia Kardiotissa, while he was at Camp Nazareth in Pittsburgh. The priest that brought the icon, told the camp the story of His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos, of blessed memory, venerating the icon when it was here in Chicago and how he believed that the Panagia was constantly interceding for us to Christ, and offering the miracle and healing power of this icon. An inspiring story and example of faith for us all!

As some storms roll in tonight, all the campers are tucked into bed after such an emotional and Christ filled day. May the blessings of the Lord come upon us, and prepare us for another glorious day of Fanari Camp!

Check out Session 4 Day 4 Photos!

Tuesday 7/18: Greek Culture

OPA! Today was dedicated to our rich Hellenic heritage through food, dance and history!

Give us a breakfast of Greek yogurt and potatoes, and we’re ready to start our Greek themed day! Our “Flex” session today was Greek Culture, where we rotated to 3 activities: Connie Savas introduced us to the game of tavli and explained some history on the Parthenon, as we constructed replicas; and Sara Pessimissis taught us the Kalamatiano and Pentaozali to get us ready for our evening activity, “Greek Night”. In Bible Study and Orthodox Life, we discussed St. Paul as a “champion” and connected his attributes as a saint, with that of a good athlete. While in Theater, our skits are coming along, as we created our scripts today, so rehearsal can begin tomorrow. What a fulfilling day, as we grow in our faith and culture!

After a delicious lunch of gyros, tzatziki sauce and pitas, we were energized to head out for free-time! This warm, sunny day invited some to the pool to cool down, while others worked up a sweat playing soccer and basketball. Campers were also testing their quick reflexes in the Octoball pit, playing bags and keeping cool in the Main Lodge. So many different activities to choose from, there’s fun happening everywhere we look!

Our Grecian dinner tonight made us wonder if we were still in Kansasville, Wisconsin. Greek chicken, greek style potatoes, green beans and spanakopita! It was so good, you’d think Yia Yia cooked it herself!!! Under the carport outside, campers danced the night away Greek style and showed off all the new dances they learned in Greek Culture today. What a great way to wrap up an amazing day, celebrating our heritage and culture!

At Closing Day, Bible Study leader, John Fotopoulos, talked about St. Paul’s most trusted assistant, St Timothy, and how he traveled with him. He was very young, and some people looked down upon him because of  his age. He relayed the message, that just because you’re young, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be Apostles of Christ. We’re all blessed with gifts from God and it’s up to us to figure out what they are and cultivate them.

The Delphians and Olympians were honored with spirit sticks tonight, as the Holy Spirit shone through them, all day long! Then, campers sang a lively rendition of “Deep”, “Jesus Love Me” and slowed it down with “Take My Hand”, before they were dismissed to their cabins to prepare for their confession devotionals.

Another blessed day, filled with new experiences and spiritual growth. Glory be to God! We can’t wait to see what new adventures will await us tomorrow at Fanari Camp. Kali Nixta!

Check out Session 4 Day 3 Photos!


Monday 7/17: Chanting and Fanari Games

We’ve only just begun our week and there’s already so much fun and learning going on!

We started our first full day at Fanari Camp with an Agiasmos service, led by Fr. George Pappas, the Associate Pastor of SS. Constantine and Helen, Merrillville, IN. Each morning following chapel, we have “Alone with God”, where we spend a few minutes  alone in prayer, to start our day off focused on Christ. What a peaceful time to cleanse our souls and minds and begin our day.

There’s rain heading to Kansasville in the coming week, so to make sure we could get in our Olympic games outside, we switched up our Monday and Tuesday activities. Today’s “Flex” was Chanting. Alex Magdalinos lead our campers in reviewing the basics of byzantine chant and the hymns we sing in church. He was very impressed at how well all the campers picked up the hymn for St. Iakovos, the patron saint of our retreat center, as well as St. Paul, our theme for the week. You can hear some of our beautiful chanting on the Fanari Facebook Live videos! 

During our rotations, campers learned about St. Paul’s life in Orthodox Life and Bible Study, and started coming up with ideas for skits to perform on Friday at Skit Night. We can’t wait to see what all our performers come up with!

CampGrams are new to Fanari Camp this year! Campdoc is offering a one-way communication tool that allows you to easily send messages to your campers. You can login to your Campdoc account and purchase tokens to send them. CampGrams are passed out each day after lunch.

The absolutely beautiful weather brought many campers and counselors outside for free-time. Basketball, soccer, and slap ball were some favorite activities, as others played games, ate ice cream and made friendship bracelets in the Main Lodge. There was no shortage of customers at the Camp Store, as everyone enjoyed stocking up on some Fanari T-shirts, hats, backpacks and snacks today. What fun, hanging out with each other, while relaxing and getting to know one another!

After dinner, the 12th annual Fanari Olympic Games took place and the excitement was felt throughout the camp!!! Teams arrived in uniformity and energized to play. Everyone was pumped to compete for spirit points, but had so much fun along the way! All the cabins gave it a tremendous effort but the Delphians were victorious in the end and won the coveted Fanari Games Trophy. What wonderful christian athletic fellowship, displayed by everyone! Well done! 

Each night we wrap up our day and come together for “Closing Day”. Tonight’s spiritual vitamin was given to us by Alex Magdalinos, where he explained the upcoming mosaic icon that we’re making on Wednesday. He talked about the tiles that come together to make the icon and that in the center of it is Christ. Together, WE make the picture that is Fanari Camp, with Christ and our Orthodox faith as the center to connect us all. What a beautiful analogy to show we are all one family in Christ here at camp!

Spirit Sticks were given out, and the anticipation had everyone on the edge of their seats with excitement. Congratulations to the Athenian and Spartan cabins, who were honored today for all their enthusiasm, kindness and unity! Bravo!!!

Before dismissal, we sang a few Fanari favorites, “Deep”, “I Will Magnify the Lord” and “Father, I Adore You”. Campers then headed back to their cabins for devotionals and then lights out. What a beautiful way to conclude such an extraordinary 1st day together, at our beloved Fanari Camp! Goodnight campers and staff…see you tomorrow for another blessed day together.

Check out Session 4 Day 2 Photos!