Author Archives: Fanari Camp

6/23: Divine Liturgy and Goodbye!

All good things must come to an end. We couldn’t have been blessed with a better week of learning, friendship and laughter! Even though it rained most of the time, it was still filled with the love of our Orthodox faith and memories to always cherish. After many pictures, hugs and a few tearful goodbyes, Session 1 is complete and the campers have all returned home.

‘The culmination of our beautiful week of Fanari 2018 “Four Evangelist: Four Doors to Christ” was attending Divine Liturgy before we departed today. Fr. Michael Arbanas, Fr. George Lamberis, Fr. Kosmas Kallis, Fr. Anastasios Theodoropoulos and Deacon Chris Avramopoulos celebrated the Divine Liturgy together and chanted a trisagion for Metropolitan Iakovos, Fr. Bill Chiganos, and all those Fanari campers, counselors and clergy who have fallen asleep in the Lord.

In his sermon, Fr. Anastasios spoke about how the heart of the Fanari Camp program is all the things we do together: the 20 minutes of morning and evening chapel each day; the prayer before meals. It’s not just the fellowship, sessions or activities. The holy things we participated in have opened the door to our heart for Christ. It’s why we feel the way we do when we go to summer camp. Only the dead don’t feel. Those who are alive in Christ have feeling. Go home and share the joy of the good news that brought you here to Fanari Camp this summer! What beautiful words to remind us of the true life of the church that God has called for us.

Counselors, staff and clergy, a heartfelt THANK YOU for all of your hard work and love that you put into our week together. A week of Fanari would not be possible without your dedication to the youth of our Metropolis and we are blessed to have you a part of our program.

Farewell, Session 1 campers. Onward to Session 2 tomorrow!

Check out Session 1 Day 7 Photos!

6/22: Skit Night

Session 1 of Fanari Camp 2018 is just about over. We’re so thankful to have had this week to grow together in our faith, with one another.  As sad as we are that it’s ending, it’s been a wonderful week of making memories and new friendships.

For the last time, we went through our rotations of Bible Study, Orthodox Life and in Theater we had dress rehearsal for our skits. The rain once again kept us inside for free time, but everyone found different activities to keep them busy and grabbed all the swag and treats they wanted before Camp Store closed.

On our last night at Fanari Camp, there’s no better way to end our time together than with “Skit Night”. Our Theater Staff, Chrysanthe Agos, did a great job coordinating the evening’s skits all week long and the campers enjoyed watching each other’s performances! We definitely have some entertaining campers with a future in theater, dance or comedy!!! Even our counselors got into the spirit and proved to be quite the entertainers. Great job, everyone!

Camper, Luke Christy, our Metropolis of Chicago Oratorical Festival Jr. Division winner and National Oratorical Festival 2nd place winner, gave us his oratory speech at Closing Day. We’re so proud of him and his accomplishments as a first time participant! He’s a great example and model for other young people, to learn more and discover the beauty that is Orthodoxy. We pray that he continues to share his faith with others and that his faith grows deeper in the love of Christ.

Huge congratulations to the campers and counselors of the Delphians, the 2018 Session 1 Fanari Camp Spirit Winners! They truly embraced the Fanari Spirit all week long with amazing counselors to lead them! Our seven 11th graders were also recognized for their last year at camp. We hope they always keep what they learned at camp in their hearts and remember their years at Fanari forever. Can’t wait to have them back as counselors in the future!

We ended the night with Deacon Chris speaking about our theme of the week; The Four Evangelists, Four Doors to Christ. We should all open the door to those around us, and show them Christ by the way we live our lives each and every day.

Fanari 2018 Session 1 is almost in the books. We’re so thankful for the campers, clergy and staff who have made this such an amazing week! 1 more day to go….

Check out Session 1 Day Photos!

6/21: Picnic Day and Dance

The sun was shining in our hearts today, but unfortunately, not on the grounds of the St. Iakovos Retreat Center. As the rain moved in this morning, so did our scheduled Picnic Day. But never fear, our campers and staff adjusted and the day went on without a hitch.

After morning chapel and breakfast, our campers rotated between two exciting games of “Minute to Win It” with Connie and Alex, and “Trivia-Fanari Style” with Fr. Demetri, Presbytera Kathy, and Katerina. So much silliness and fun in both activities!

Then it was time for some entertaining “Repeat after me Songs”, with Peter, Nick and Chryse, as they lead us all in singing Down by the Bay, Bazooka Bubblegum, and Wrist-a-sha. We sure did look funny, but boy was it hilarious!  We also performed a loud round of Boomba! Hey!, and a hilarious Boom Chicka Boom with many funny accents. Since it was raining outside, we made our own rain inside, as Peter Savas guided us in the steps it takes to make rain sounds with our hands and feet.

We were blessed with a special visitor today, for the first time at Fanari Camp, His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael. He talked to the campers and staff about how we wear masks because we want to hide our true selves. The more we wear the masks, the more they becomes a part of us. But the closer we get to Christ, the more we take off our masks, so we can discover our true selves. Then when we see each other, for who we really are, we will see Christ. Truly words to reflect on! He also passed out our camp gift; an icon of the Four Evangelists, which is our theme for the week. Thank you, Your Eminence, for spending time with us today! We hope you continue to join us at our home each and every summer.

Our picnic may have been inside, but the grill was fired up, as Deacon Chris, James and Arun cooked all our delicious souvlaki outside! The rest of the day was spent with many other indoor activities, such as watching movies, friendship bracelet making, and creating an impromptu pop-up beauty shop, giving everyone fresh facials, nicely groomed nails and fabulous hairstyles! Rainy days are the best for finding fun things to do.

And we saved the best for last tonight, when it came time to Giddy Up and come dance the night away Country Western style! Some campers were decked out in their country gear and enjoyed singing and dancing in the Main lodge, while others headed downstairs to our fireplace, where we were roasting marshmallows for s’mores and listening to stories of the saints. Counselor Nick taught us some fun new country line dances that got everyone stomping their boots to the beat! What a great way to round-up our day, and make memories together of our time at Fanari.

Spirit sticks were awarded to the Athenians and Delphians and then we ended the evening singing, “Deep”, “Father, I Adore You”, and “I am a CHRISTIAN”. What a full and wonderful day! Campers are back in their cabins, and will rest well tonight, for sure. See you tomorrow, for our last full day of Fanari Camp.

Check out Session 1 Day 5 Photos!

6/20: Chanting, Confession and Fanari Games

It’s Wednesday already…the week is flying by! We’ve been busy with sessions, activities and getting to know our new friends. The fun never stops at Fanari!

It was a peaceful day, as our campers received the sacrament of Holy Confession during their Orthodox Life session. Our Flex session today was Chanting. Alex Magdalinos reviewed the basics of byzantine chant and also taught the beautiful hymns we chant in the orthros, vespers and Divine Liturgy. The Holy Spirit was shining through all the heavenly voices singing today!

Ahoy, Matey! The St. Iakovos Retreat Center Marina was open and ready for campers at free-time! Paddle boats, canoes and row boats were floating around Friendship Lake, giving the campers and staff a relaxing way to spend the afternoon. Others played basketball, soccer and enjoyed some ice cream with friends. A few campers learned how to make prayer ropes in the Log Lodge, thanks to counselors Nick and Chryse! What a blessing to discover new talents and learn more about our faith.

Tonight’s evening activity was our annual Fanari Olympic Games!  The spirit of Fanari was all around, as each cabin made grand entrances, dressed in various color schemes! The energy was contagious and the campers really got into the spirit of the night! Campers cheered each other on, in friendly competition, and put their heart into every game and race. In the end, the Delphians were victorious and received the trophy for earning the most points. Congratulations to all our cabins for having such great sportsmanship and fun tonight!

We ended with Closing Day and a reflection by one of our staff directors Chris Chakonas who told us a story of how God is always with us, and many times carrying us through tough times on his shoulders.

Our Olympians and Spartans won spirit sticks for the day, after showing so much enthusiasm and unity all day long! Before dismissal, the entire camp joined in singing together,  “I Will Magnify the Lord” and a round of “Father, I Adore You”.  There’s so much joy in the voices of our campers when they sing!  As the Athenians and Olympians went off to their cabins for devotionals, Fr. George and Sara led the Spartans and Delphians in learning a beautiful hymn of the Church, “Theotoke H Elpis” “Theotokos our Hope”. What a beautiful ending to this special day!

Another day to be thankful for the blessings Christ has bestowed upon us here at Fanari Camp. One Camp. One love for each other. One family in Christ. God willing it will be beautiful day for our picnic tomorrow.

Check out Session 1 Day 4 Photos!

6/19: Diakonia and Night with the Saints

God blessed our beautiful grounds with rain showers this morning! Luckily, there’s ample indoor space to accommodate all our activities, so that we could continue with the fun and learning happening, all day long.

During our sessions, campers were busy in Theater, practicing their skits for Friday’s performance. In Orthodox Life and Bible Study, we started to get to know the four Evangelists, which is this year’s camp theme, and why they are so important to us as examples today.

Today’s Flex session was Diakonia, where we learned about Orthodoxy in Guatemala. After hearing about Christ’s Great commission on Pentecost, we had the opportunity to make Feast day Icon books, that will be sent to St. John the Baptist parish in Ixcan, Guatemala. The books are translated in spanish and will provide the community with a learning tool. We chanted “Lord have mercy” in spanish-“Señor ten piedod”. Please, keep our brothers and sisters in Ixcan in your prayers!

The wet grounds kept us off the fields for free-time today, but we kept plenty busy playing outdoor games, making friendship bracelets inside and some enjoyed watching the movie, “Moana”. So many fun things to do with friends at camp!

Tonight’s evening activity was the peaceful and prayerful “Night with the Saints”. Campers were divided into two groups and rotated doing each of two activities. In the first rotation, they learned about the lives of the various saints that we were blessed to venerate:  Sts. Nicholas, Raphael, & Irene of Mytilini; St. Nicholas; St. Irene; The Holy Unmercinaries Kosmas & Damianos; St. Patapios; St. Basil the Great; The 40 Holy Martyrs of Sevastia; St. Haralambos and St. Martin.   We also had the opportunity to be blessed by holy oil from St. John Maximovich. In our other rotation, we welcomed Archon Regional Co-Commander, Mr. John Manos, who educated our campers on our Patriarchate,  Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the five key issues the Archons have been championing for many years. We also discussed the Holy sacrament of confession and campers were able to ask questions and have time to reflect and prepare for confession tomorrow. What a blessing to be in the presence of such holiness and be comforted by the beauty of our Orthodox faith and traditions!

We wrapped things up at Closing day, as the Athenians and Delphians were each awarded spirit sticks for having the shining light of the Holy Spirit within today! Then Fr. George lead us in the song, “In My Life, Be Gorified”,  as we strive to be glorified as saints. And we ended the evening singing the beautiful hymn, “Lord of the Powers” together.  Campers then headed to their cabins to continue their devotionals with our clergy, in preparation for their confessions tomorrow.

What a beautiful and full day! We pray for continued blessings for the remainder of our week together. Kali nixta!

Check out Session 1 Day 3 Photos!

Monday 6/18: Greek Culture and Game Show

Today’s Greek theme was seen throughout camp, as we explored our beautiful Hellenic Culture in our sessions and food! OPA!

Following our morning Agismos service, lead by Fr. Demetri Kounavis from Holy Cross in Justice, IL, campers were introduced to “Alone with God”–a time to sit quietly in prayer and put our focus on Christ, before we begin each day.

Then we were powered up and ready to begin our first full day of camp, after a delicious breakfast of feta eggs and our favorite Greek potatoes! Our Flex session today was Greek Culture, where we participated in four different Ancient Greek Societies: While experiencing the artistic culture of Athens, we learned dances from Pontos and Crete; we participated in pool noodle javelin throwing, as we journeyed through Ancient Olympia; we exhausted ourselves in Spartan boot camp; and we  built ancient Delphian ruins from play dough.

Gyros with tzatziki were a hit for lunch and then campers enjoyed free-time, where they learned the rules and procedures for our brand new Marina. We can’t wait to get out on the canoes and row boats this week! Some campers chose to sweat it out in the heat on the basketball court and playing octoball, while others stayed cool playing games and visiting the Camp Store inside the Main Lodge. A few rain showers passed through during the afternoon, so we adjusted our session locations and carried on with our last rotation before dinner.

Tonights Grecian dinner was generously donated by Plateia Mediterranean Kitchen and the Papadatos family. Everyone enjoyed feasting on our Grecian dinner, which included, pastichio, briami, spanakopitas and Greek salad. It was so good, we thought we were back in our homeland! Thank you Plateia for capping off our day of Greek Culture with such a delicious meal!

For our evening activity, campers geared up in some creative costumes for “Let’s Make a Deal”! Deacon Chris and Fr. Andrew hosted the night with various games, where campers showed off their talents and had to choose to win a prize, and try not to get a ZONK! Then it was time for a few of our favorite Fanari songs, Pharoah, Pharoah, Deep and Seek Ye First, with Fr. George leading us on his guitar. Nothing says Fanari like a good, energetic sing-along!

We ended with Closing Day, where we listened to Fr. George Lamberis from Saint Haralambos in Niles, talk to us about how becoming Orthodox doesn’t happen over night. The tools we learn here at camp need to be taken home with us to feed our souls, so that we can impact other people in our lives, to bring them closer to Christ, too. We pray that campers keep that light we all receive this week at camp, in their hearts throughout the year!

The 1st Spirit Sticks of the summer went out to the Spartans and Delphians, who have already displayed through their actions and words, that they are great role models for our younger campers this week. Immersing ourselves in our culture and faith, was the perfect 1st day at Fanari Camp!  

All is quiet on the campgrounds, as our first full day comes to an end. We can’t wait to see the blessings that tomorrow will bring. Gnite, Fanari Camp!

Check out Session 1 Day 2 Photos!



Fanari 2018 begins!

Another camping season has begun and we’re off to an energetic start for Fanari Camp 2018!

After a smooth drop-off , we said our goodbyes and all 221 campers, clergy and staff, gathered in the cafeteria for our first meal together. We then had our orientation to familiarize ourselves with our beautiful home at The St. Iakovos Retreat Center, and met all our amazing counselors and core staff that will be taking care of us this week. How blessed we are to be here together, as one family in Christ!

After Deacon Chris spoke about our rules and responsibilities at camp, we went through a short 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. Finally, everyone learned how we can show that we have the Holy Spirit within us all week and receive spirit sticks as a cabin each night!

Ice cream sundaes, anyone? With an assortment of toppings, everyone enjoyed making their own delicious creations at our very own Orthodox Sundae Bar. Some counselors and campers enjoyed dancing and singing their favorite songs, while other enjoyed catching up and hanging out together. We wrapped up our first day with a beautiful evening chapel service inside the Main Lodge, lead by Fr. Michael Arbanas, from St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in St. Louis.

Campers went back to their cabins to do their first evening devotionals with their counselors and then they were ready for bed. It was a long day, filled with excitement, being reunited with old friends and meeting cabin mates that are new. We can’t wait for all the wonderful blessings the rest of the week will bring at Fanari 2018!

We’ll be posting all our photos from each day on the Metropolis of Chicago Youth & Young Adult Ministries Flickr page! CLICK HERE for Session 1 Day 1 Photos!