Fanari Camp Session 4 Begins!

It’s our final session of the summer and we can’t wait to begin, what we know will be, a week of learning, fun and lots of spirit in Session 4 of Fanari Camp!!!

Once all our campers arrived, we gathered together in the cafeteria for dinner before we began our orientation. Deacon Chris, talked about our schedule, facility rules and what to expect this week at camp.

Who will be the Session 4 Spirit Winner?! Our Spirit Squad, Diakonissa Nicole and Maria, explained how we can earn spirit coins during the day and spirit sticks at night, by displaying unity, love, respect and kindness to show we truly have the Holy Spirit within.

Next, campers got a preview of all the swag and snacks that are available to buy at the Camp Store during free-time each day. Then came time for our staff introductions, as we met all our counselors and clergy that are here this week, and learned what musician/band is their favorite!

Finally, we went through a rotation of each of our Daily Activities: Orthodox Life, Bible Study, Theater, and “Flex”, where we will rotate with Greek Culture, Chanting, Arts & Crafts and Athletics each day. So many new opportunites to experience at Fanari Camp!

Afterwards, we enjoyed the ultimate “Orthodox Sunday Sundae Bar”, with an ice cream social, and couldn’t decide what to pile in our bowls from all the scrumptous toppings to choose from! Campers listened to music, sang along with their counselors and enjoyed getting to know their fellow cabin mates. What a fun 1st night at Fanari Camp!

The evening came to an end, as we gathered in the Main Lodge for our chapel service, led by Fr. Peter Sarolas from SS. Constantine and Helen, Rockford, IL. Campers then went back to their cabins to do their first devotionals with their counselors and get settled in their cabins for the night.

Such a wonderful start to Session 4 of Fanari Camp! We can’t wait to see what blessings the week ahead of us will bring. Until tomorrow…Gnite from Fanari Camp Headquarters.

Check out Session 4 Day 1 Photos!


Saturday 7/15: Divine Liturgy and Goodbye

Just like that, Sessions 3 of Fanari Camp is complete and all the campers have returned to their homes. Our Orthodox faith has brought us together, as we experienced the love of Christ and His church, made new friends, and strengthened our bonds with old. We take with us the fond memories of our week together and say goodbye for now.

Ending our beautiful week celebrating the Divine Liturgy, was the perfect send off to a truly special session of Fanari Camp. Fr. Sotiri Malamis, Fr. Chris Mihalopoulos, Fr. Kosmas Kallis and Deacon Chris Avramopoulos celebrated the Liturgy together and chanted a memorial for our beloved Metropolitan Iakovos, Fr. Bill Chiganos and all those Fanari clergy, staff and campers, as well as, the benefactors of the St. Iakovos Retreat Center, who have fallen asleep in the Lord. May their memories be eternal!

Campers, we hope you experienced growth, joy, fun and fellowship during your week with us. More importantly, we pray that you gained an increased knowledge about your Orthodox faith, and keep all the excitement and love felt this week at Fanari, in your hearts throughout your lives. Only those who experience a week at Fanari Camp, truly know the impact it can make, as we have been blessed with this wonderful opportunity to gather together as one family in Christ.

Thank you to our exceptional clergy and staff who shared this week with us. We would not have a successful program without you generously giving a week of your time and talents to the children of our Metropolis. May God bless and guide you, always.

Farewell, Session 3 campers….time to wrap up the summer with Session 4!

Check out Session 3 Day 7 Photos!

Friday 7/14: Skit Night

We’re wrapping things up, on our last full day of camp, and looking back fondly on all we’ve shared in our one week together.

Campers headed to our Daily Activities, one last time, to conclude all they’ve learned about St. Paul in OL and Bible Study. Our “Flex” session today was Athletics, where campers enjoyed the outdoors and playing various sports with their counselors. The final touches were put on everyone’s skits, as they rehearsed in Theater to perfect their performances for tonight!

One last free-time to hang out with our friends, play sports, games, get in one last ice cream bar and simply enjoy each other’s company. So much we can experience in a day, without any distractions from the outside world. What a blessing to be here together and feel comfortable with each other, in our home at The St. Iakovos Retreat Center!

Rounding out our evening activities for the week is our annual Skit Night! Campers and counselors have been working hard each day, coming up with hilarious skits for the big show. A huge Thank-You goes to Ari Cussick for coordinating all the performances this week in Theater! To all our talented actors, well done! A night to remember for sure!  We ended with a slideshow and video of all the beautiful memories we’ve created this week. Campers, clergy and staff, we will miss you all!

We’re so proud of our DELPHIANS, the Session 3 Spirit Winners!!! They not only won the overall amount of spirit points, but received spirit sticks all 4 nights in a row! Congratulations! The Holy Spirit shone through them as they showed great love and respect for their friends, staff, campers and our beloved camp. Truly, all our campers made this week a memorable one!

For our last Closing Day, Deacon Chris recognized our four 11th graders, who were here for their last year:  Stavros Agos, Anastasios Georgiafentis, Foti Papageorge and Nicholas Magas. Our hope for them is that they will take the lessons they’ve learned at Fanari Camp about our faith, themselves, and each other and use them to strengthen and grow in Christ. Your Fanari family will always be here for you all!

Before dismissal, everyone sang together one last time: “Deep” and “Take My Hand”. What seemed like a long week ahead of us, has quickly brought us to an end. We are so thankful for the time we’ve spent together, and can’t wait to build on these moments with a greater love and appreciation for each other and our Orthodox faith. Campers are all packed up, and prepared to say goodbye after Divine Liturgy tomorrow. 1 more day to go….see you at chapel in the morning!

Check out Session 3 Day 6 Photos!

Thursday 7/13: Picnic Day and Dance

If it’s Thursday at Fanari Camp, that means one thing…PICNIC DAY!!! We took a break from our Daily Schedule to spend the morning with two different rotations before the festivities began. 

Following Chapel this morning and a few moments in prayer during “Along with God”, we headed off to breakfast to get fueled up before our busy day began. Some campers started at the “St. Paul Challenge Course”, where the campers rotated through activities representing the different stages of St. Paul’s life.

The first stop was the Road to Damascus. Ari Cussick took us through the Proskinitarion Walk in the woods, just as St. Paul was blinded on his journey. Then campers joined Alex Magdalinos 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. 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, before they grasped the reality of what really happened to this martyr.

Our 2nd rotation was a combination of a group Trivia game and a lesson on the meaning behind the altar items used in the Divine Liturgy, with Fr. Chris Mihalopoulos and Fr. Sotiri Malamis.  Finally, counselor and Hellenic College/Holy Cross ambassador, Moriah Moody, talked about the opportunities that the college offers for any future students interested in learning more about their faith.  

Souvlaki, anyone? Sounds like a Greek picnic to me! Picnic time began, as campers also enjoyed mouth watering watermelon, chips and lemonade! We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day and everyone found something fun to do outside to enjoy the weather. Basketball, soccer, volleyball, swimming and just walking around, exploring the grounds were enjoyable. Some campers took “Maria’s Wacky Wagon Ride” so they could visit the animals at the barn. Everyone loved seeing the newest edition to the retreat center, the adorable goats named Jem & Scout, petting the horses and peacock, and holding the tiny kitten! So cute!

We can’t end picnic day without our annual Staff vs Camper softball game. Nothing like a little friendly competition to get everyone hyped up and ready to play! It was a bit of a mud slip and slide, but each team managed to score a few runs. Even while competing, we’re having fun in fellowship together at Fanari Camp.

More fun, you say?! Hop into your time machine and get ready for our “Blast From the Past” Dance, with DJ Chrys Cross, who’ll make you, ‘JUMP! JUMP!’ All the decades were represented with some colorful tie dye, white t-shirts and rolled up jeans, and even a Ghostbuster came to save the day! We danced to some great oldies like “We Go Together”, “Dancing Queen”, and “I’ve Had The Time of My Life”. Some campers headed over to hear Mr. D tell stories by the campfire while roasting marshmallows and making delicious s’mores!  Just what we craved after all that dancing! A fun night all around!

Once we settled down and headed to chapel for Closing Day, Spartan counselor and Holy Cross student, Justin Glavonovits, talked  about how to persevere during difficult times and his connection to St. Nectarios, whom he looked upon to heal him in a time of illness. His message was to not take for-granted the friendships we’ve made this week, as they may be the ones that are there for you in the future, in times of pain, as well as, joy. 

Energy is at an all time high, and Spirit Sticks went out to the Athenians, Olympians and for an unprecedented 4th night in a row, the Delphians! So much love and spirit filling the hearts of all our campers this week! We can’t believe there’s only one more full day ahead of us before our departure on Saturday. Sleep well, campers and staff…one more day of amazing opportunities ahead of us tomorrow! G-nite!

Click here for Session 3 Day 5 Photos!

Wednesday 7/12: Arts & Crafts, Confession, Night with the Saints, Sing-a-long

If we read the scripture verse, “He will come to us like the rain” Hosea 6:3, then today the Lord was truly with us! A few down pours and flooding in the surrounding area, but the spirit at Fanari Camp and the high ground of the St. Iakovos Retreat Center, rose above it all!

To prepare us for the Divine Liturgy on Saturday and to receive the Holy Eucharist, we all participated in the sacrament of Holy Confession. Thank you to our visiting clergy, Fr. Apostolos Georgiafentis, Fr. Sam Dimitriou, Fr. Leo Gavrilos, who served along side Fr. Sotiri Malamis and Fr. Chris Mihalopoulos to hear confessions. A peaceful time to free us of all that weighs heavily on our minds and souls. 

Our “Flex” activity today was Arts & Crafts with Alex Magdalinos, who instructed us on how to create a mosaic icon of Christ, by gluing tiles all around. What a beautiful keepsake of our time at camp, to keep by our home iconostasion and venerate.

Due to all the rain showers saturating the fields, free-time was kept inside, but there was no shortness of fun and fellowship within the walls of our Main Lodge! Campers and staff enjoyed time together to show off their tavli skills, play card games, make friendship bracelets, watch the movie, “UP” and enjoy sweet treats from the Camp Store. Even when we’re just relaxing, we’re growing in friendships and faith at Fanari!

Tonight’s evening activity was the inspiring “Night with the Saints”. Rotating between two activities, we first welcomed Fr. Loukas Gikas and Fr. George Lamberis, who brought relics of the Holy Cross, 40 Holy Martyrs, St. Haralambos, St. Martin, St. Paul, St. Nicholas, St. Basil, St. Constantine, St. Helen, St. Anna and many more for us to venerate. They explained that a saint is a person who is healed in Christ. 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 and received a photo icon of the miracle, to keep by our iconostasion at home. Our next rotation was with Fr. Chris Mihalopoulos and Louie Pappas, where campers talked about how keepsakes are what our faith is about. They’re not about death, but about life! Venerating the relics of the saints is how we honor and remember them. A truly holy night, discovering the depths and beauty, which is our Orthodox faith!

Rounding out the night was our traditional Sing-a-long with Fr. George Lamberis, who lead us in some of our favorites, “Deep”, “Pharaoh, Pharaoh”, “I Am a C”, “Seek Ye First”, “Father I Adore You” and introduced us to “Shine On”. He captivated the audience with a thrilling rendition of “Boomba! Hey!” and finally, taught the campers how to make rain with their hands. So much fun! So many smiles! So thankful to be a part of Fanari Camp!

At Closing Day, our Staff Director, Maria Pentaris talked about the impact that her 24 years at Fanari Camp has made in her life, and that we should continue to grow stronger in our faith after we leave camp and challenge ourselves to be truly worshipping Orthodox Christians. If we cultivate the relationships that we make at Fanari, they will turn into life long friendships to cherish.

Camp is quiet tonight after another fulfilling day. May we all be blessed with a restful sleep, to prepare us for another glorious day at Fanari Camp. Kali Nixta!

Check out Session 3 Day 4 Photos!



Tuesday 7/11: Chanting and Fanari Games

Another day of God’s blessings all around us at Fanari Camp!

“Ne Pa Vou Ga Thi Ke Zo Ne”! Our Flex session today was Chanting with Alex Magdalinos, where he reviewed the basics of byzantine chant and the beautiful hymns we sing in church. We also learned the hymn for St. Iakovos, the patron saint of our retreat center, as well as St. Paul, our theme for the week. The heavenly voices of our campers were inspiring, as they embraced all the hymns they learned and sang them in evening chapel.

Free-time was filled with relaxation, friendly competition and colorful new apparel! Crafty Connie Savas and staff, helped campers who wanted to tie dye their camp shirts or hats. We can’t wait to see the final products in a few days! Others chose basketball, swimming, ping pong, Garage Band or just cooling off in the Main Lodge with games and ice cream. There was a little something for everyone to relax and enjoy some time together!

The energy is at an all time high around the camp, with non-stop chanting and singing from all the cabins throughout the day. So much enthusiasm!!! A special shout out to our AMAZING counselors for being loving role models, leading the way for our campers this week. We are extremely blessed to have them ALL!

Following dinner, the annual Fanari Olympic Games took place for Session 3 and the excitement was felt throughout the camp. Our hair may not have held up in this humidity, but our spirits were at an all time high!!! Each cabin entered the games, unified in attire and team spirit! In the end, the friendly competition was only outdone by the amazing sportsmanship that all our campers displayed for each other. Such a fun night to laugh and play together for some good times and great memories! All our cabins gave it a valiant effort, but congratulation goes to the Olympians, who were our victorious winners, by a 4 point margin! Check out all our Facebook Live videos for a recap of the night!

At Closing Day, Mr. D shared a couple stories about how life was brought back to barren fruit trees and this relates to us being cultivators of our faith and Apostles of the Word. We truly are blessed with the lessons that Mr. D teaches us all. Spirit sticks were also given out to our always energetic Delphians and Athenians! The Holy Spirit is growing inside of us, each and every day.

Finally, Jonathan Tatooles played the guitar and lead us in a joyful rendition of “Pharaoh, Pharaoh”, “I Will Magnify the Lord” and then we sang arm in arm, “Seek Ye First”. There’s nothing like singing Fanari songs, to bring us together as a family at camp. Another memorable day to be thankful for! There’s rain in the forecast overnight, but nothing’s going to dampen our spirits at Fanari Camp! Goodnight and God Bless!

Click here for Session 3 Day 3 Photos!

Monday 7/10: It’s Great to be GREEK!

A Greek themed day to offically begin Session 3, and it was filled with food, dance and our beautiful Hellenic Culture! OPA!

We started our first full day at Fanari Camp with an Agiasmos service, led by Fr. Chris Mihalopoulos, the Associate Pastor of St. Demetrios, Chicago. Following the blessing, we introduced the campers to “Alone with God”, where we spend a few minutes each morning spread out in silence, to be alone with our thoughts in prayer and begin our day focused on Christ. A beautiful way to nourish our souls.

It’s not a Greek breakfast without feta eggs, potatoes and Greek yogurt! Once our souls and stomachs were properly nourished, we headed to our daily activities to begin our day. We started to learn about St. Paul’s life in Orthodox Life and Bible Study, while we got creative in Theater with Ari Cussick, and brain stormed ideas for Skit Night. Our Flex session today was Greek Culture, lead by Connie Savas, where our campers rotated between 3 stations: Greek dancing, building the Parthenon and learning Tavli. Campers were engaged in our Greek Culture, while enjoying fellowship with one another.

Our Greek themed lunch of Gyros, tzatziki sauce and pitas were a big hit! Before dimissal, CampGrams were passed out and everyone read them with great anticipation to see what’s going on at home. We know you miss hearing from your campers, but they’ll be filled with lots of stories of their adventures at camp, to tell you on Saturday.

Free time brought many activities to keep everyone busy! Any camper who wants to swim this week, took their swim test at the pool. Other future NBA players were active on the basketball court, while some chose to play foosball and an intense round of Ping Pong! The Main Lodge was refuge from the humidity, as campers and staff played card games, listened to music, made friendship bracelets and loaded up on swag and snacks at the Camp Store. Fun is around every corner we turn at Fanari!

You’d think Yia Yia was here, with our delicious Greek chicken, potatoes and green beans for dinner. Once we were all well fortified, it was time for GREEK NIGHT! Our very own DJ Chyrs Cross mixed it up with all our favorite Greek songs! Some of our sports enthusiasts enjoyed watching the Home Run Derby, while others listened to saint stories with Mr. D out on the balcony. Campers and counselors showed off all the new dances they learned in Greek Culture under the carport outside, as it was the perfect evening activity to culminate all we learned about our heritage today!

We concluded the evening with “Closing Day” in the Main Lodge, where we listened to Louie Pappas, from Saint Demetrios Chicago, speak about St. Paul and how we should be passionate about showing christian love towards one another, to get the most out of Fanari Camp this week. Tonight’s 1st Spirit Sticks went out to the Spartans and Delphians! Truly, the Holy Spirit was shining through them all day long! We’re so proud of you!

Before dismissal, our guest guitar player Jonathan Tatooles, lead us in a lively rendition of “Deep” and then slowed it down as we sang arm in arm,“Father I Adore You” and “Take My Hand”.  To close out the night, Fr Sotiri Malamis and Alex Magdalinos introduced the beautiful hymn “Lord of the Powers”, as this hymn reminds us that we have our staff here, our family, friends etc., but in the end no matter what happens, we will always have God. What a blessing to be together, with our Orthodox faith as our common denominator, to let us learn more about ourselves, each other and Orthodoxy!

Campers headed back to their cabins to settle in for the night and do their devotionals. We will all sleep well after such a full and blessed day together. Glory be to God! Goodnight for now, Fanari Camp!

Click here for Session 3 Day 2 Photos!