Enjoy this reflection from Pres. Danielle Burikas, one of our Team Leaders from 2019 Fanari Winter Camp:
The room was small. It had tan floors, tan walls, and if my memory serves me correctly, a tan ceiling. The kids arrived and grew comfortable with their peers and staff quickly. They offered up gunein thoughts and real struggles. We soon learned we had a room of athletes and a few writers.
Staff asked, “What if you were not good at your sport; are you still valuable to the team?”
Awkward beautiful silence ensued for one moment, two moments, three moments,
“No.” A camper replied.
We waded through the murky waters. We felt our way through the torrents of pressure to perform, produce, and impress. All this work for the singular goal that we might meet the expectations set upon us, and only when the expectations are met are we worthy of belonging and love, that is the world–so we thought.
We took a break from the serious stuff to participate the most intense relay race I have ever witnessed. However, a picture is worth 1,000 words, and I had the camera for that activity, so I can comfortably assert we have 1,000s of stories for your viewing.
In the evening we made our way back to our little tan AV room for a final Orthodox Life.
“What if I cut off your arms and legs. Are you still you?”
Campers gave confused smiles,
“Yes.” followed by a moment of silence, “And well, no.”
“If I have no arms and legs then I am no longer able to fulfill all my identities like basketball player, but I am still me. So, yes and no.”
Staff smiled back,
“Tell me more about that.”
The campers gave a group sigh. All eyes fell to the floor, none willing to catch my eye and be volu-n-forced to share,
“I am me, at the core.” a camper offered, “My soul is me. That is the me God knows. The one that is hidden behind masks I wear, the many identities I have.”
I must say I was struck with this level of analysis from a group of middle school students. Like we discussed with the group, we do not have a children’s Liturgy because the soul knows God from conception. There is no need to provide a Liturgy written at a preschool level. Their middle school soul’s could sense God the same as mine, though I am roughly twice their age. We continued on with our session, participated in activities, watched thought provoking videos, and the kids concluded:
“It is really hard to live in the world and not wear masks.”
“The goal is to one day to be the YOU God made you to be.”
“He knows me. He loves me; even if I do not do things perfectly.”
“To Him, I am valuable, To Him I belong, To Him I am worthy of love. No masks needed.”