by Demetri Maglaras
During these past two years, I have struggled with one simple idea; what was missing in my life? When I pondered upon this subject, I knew that what I was missing was directly coordinated to my spiritual life. Even after countless prayer sessions, visits with my parish priest and self-reflection, I still couldn’t find what was off. I discovered the hole in my heart when I was in the process of applying to Fanari Camp as a Counselor this summer. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Fanari Camp as a camper in Green Lake from 7th-8thgrade, and then at the St. Iakovos Retreat Center as a 9th-10thgrader. Through these years, I grew spiritually, culturally, and emotionally as a person and as a Greek Orthodox Christian. However, I attended Ionian Village in Greece instead of attending Fanari Camp for my last year. Becoming a counselor this summer, for the camp that changed my life for the better, has been a dream of mine ever since my days as a camper. At this moment, I knew that I needed my dose of Fanari Camp once again.
Even with all of this excitement for this summer, I was hesitant to attend this weekend’s Staff Training because I thought that many things have changed since I stepped foot on this campus. After these short three days, I quickly realized that I was severely wrong. The Fanari that I remembered was exactly the same. The camp still fosters the idea of growing the youth of the Metropolis of Chicago through our faith, culture, and humanity. What I was really excited about, especially for this summer, was the fact that I was on the opposite side of the spectrum. Walking onto campus, I was greeted by many other future Fanari Staff members with smiles, happiness, and excitement. Right away, these reactions helped transition me into the role of being a counselor this year for the youth of our Metropolis. As I entered the main lodge, I was greeted by old faces and new faces that resonated the same hype that I was feeling about Fanari. Following dinner, introductions were done by Fr. Kosmas, Maria, and the rest of the Leadership Team. They promised that this summer was going to be amazing, and they challenged each of us to get up every day, while counseling, and say to ourselves that this will be the “Best Day Ever!”.
With the discussions about the weekly schedule of camp, evening activities, and new additions to the camp, I knew that I would be able to wake up every day at Fanari Camp and make that statement a reality! Most importantly, through an Akathist Hymn and Vespers, I felt that not only my connection to God, but also the camp’s connection to God, was as strong as it has ever been! To grow closer as fellow counselors, our Leadership Team organized many team building activities and games that helped create a bond between me and my fellow counselors that will grow this summer! To test this bond, we were put into groups to go on a scavenger hunt. Through this hunt, we had to find ribbons around the camp’s most important sites. Finding these ribbons allowed us to work together as a team, which gave us valuable training for our future weeks at camp.
As the Staff Training weekend comes to a close, I leave St. Iakovos Retreat Center not only more excited than I was for Camp this summer, but more prepared to be the best counselor that I can be. I’m truly so thrilled and blessed that I have the opportunity to serve God and the people of this Metropolis as a Fanari Counselor, and I cannot wait for the summer to start.
Demetri Maglaras is a new counselor this summer and will be attending Fanari Camp during Session 3 and Session 4. He attends St. Demetrios Church in Chicago.