7/14: Divine Liturgy and Goodbye

And just like that, our time together flew by so quickly! We couldn’t have been blessed with a better week filled with beautiful weather, hard-working staff and friendships to cherish. After many hugs and a few tearful goodbyes, Session 3 is complete and the campers have all returned to their homes, as we fondly cherish the memories we created in our brief week together.

The culmination of our beautiful week of Fanari 2018 “The Four Evagelists: Four Doors to Christ”, was attending the Divine Liturgy before we departed today. Fr. Peter Sarolas, Fr. Thomas Alatzakis, Fr. Chris Mihalopoulos, Fr. Panayiotis Hasiakos and Deacon Chris Avramopoulos celebrated the Divine Liturgy together and chanted a trisagion for our beloved Metropolitan Iakovos, Fr. Bill Chiganos, and all those Fanari campers , clergy and staff who have fallen asleep in the Lord. May their memories be eternal!

Many who experience a week of Fanari Camp share an unexplainable bond that ties us all together. Our Orthodox faith has brought us here, but the love of Christ has encouraged us to step out of our comfort zone and take the steps He puts before us, to live our faith in our every day life. The friendships we create; the words we say; the choices we make as to how we live our lives and treat those around us; they are strengthened in this safe environment at camp, as we are one family in Christ. We pray that all our campers and staff take the memories, laughter and friendships that were created during our week and share the love and joy of Christ that they experienced, with others.

A heartfelt thank you to all our Session 3 clergy and staff, who gave of their time and talents this week to guide and minister the youth of our Metropolis. We appreciate all your efforts and love that you gave so freely in our week together. What a blessing for us all, to have the lives of these beautiful, young souls in our loving care!

Farewell, Session 3 Campers….onward to our last session of the summer!

Check out Session 3 Day 7 Photos!

7/13: Skit Night

On our last full day of Session 3, we ran through our activities one more time and couldn’t help but reflect on all we’ve gained this week at Fanari Camp.

Our Flex session today was Athletics, where counselors led campers in games of volleyball, soccer, a light workout and some water aerobics on our slide! In Theater, everyone put the finishing touches on their skits to prepare for tonight’s evening activity.

Following lunch, campers ran to their final free time activities and visited the Camp Store for any last minute swag and treats they wanted, before it closed for the week. We enjoyed the beautiful weather outside and spending quality time with friends one last time. The Athenians visited the Marina today and the Delphians had a blast on the water slide. Even Dn. Chris took a ride down the flowing waters to cool down before free-time ended.

Friday nights are for Skit Night at Fanari Camp!  Thanks to Andrew Poteres for coordinating all the skits and helping campers put on a great show tonight. Our budding actors entertained us with their hilarious performances! Even some of our talented counselors joined in on the fun, and afterwards we all enjoyed watching a slideshow of the memories we made during our week together.

Spirit Winners were announced, and the DELPHIANS were our 2018 Session 3 winners!!! Great job to all the campers and counselors for keeping the Holy Spirit within them, to shine bright in all they did this week. We wish our 11th grade campers a heartfelt farewell and hope to see them give back to Fanari as counselors someday. As Deacon Chris closed the night, he told us to keep that light we’ve found or rekindled in our hearts this week, and keep it burning all year round. We hope and pray that this special time of friendship and spiritual growth stays with all our campers and brings them back to camp year after year.

Before we dismissed, everyone sang together one last time, “Deep”, “Take My Hand” and “Father I Adore You”. Our short week together brought us a new appreciation of our Orthodox faith. While we may be sad to leave tomorrow, we are thankful for the joy from all the memories we made, which we will hold onto for the rest of our lives! Campers are all packed up, prepared for Divine Liturgy and in bed- lights out. We’ll see you all tomorrow for our final goodbyes. Good night, from Fanari Headquarters!

Check out Session 3 Day 6 Photos!

7/12: Picnic Day and Dance

Thursday at Fanari Camp means good food, outdoor fun, friends, souvlaki and dancing….it’s PICNIC DAY!!! We’re switching it up and taking a break from the norm to relax and enjoy a beautiful day together as one family at camp.

First up, Trivia with Fr Chris, Fr. Thomas and Fr. Panagiotis, where there were fun categories and tricky questions to answer. Then, Connie entertained us with “Minute to Win It” games, as campers tried their hardest to accomplish each task in under a minute. All these points went towards our spirit totals for the week!

The grill was hot and fired up for our delicious souvlaki thanks to Dn. Chris, Arun and Fr. Peter. Everyone enjoyed having a true picnic lunch on the grounds of the retreat center, and hanging out together while listening to music and feasting on karpouzi, chips and refreshing lemonade, too!

Today it was the Olympian’s turn to visit the Marina. Staff and campers used the canoes, paddle boats and row boats together, and enjoyed a relaxing ride around Friendship lake. Campers also cooled off from the heat and enjoyed the refreshing water slide, while others played sports, ladder toss and bags.

Down on the farm, our campers were able to visit the animals today after they rode Maria’s Wacky Wagon ride! And to our surprise, Farmer Joe came out of retirement to transport everyone to the barn on his tractor. Our goats, Scout and Jem, enjoyed all the visitors!

And last but not least, the annual Clergy/Counselor vs. Camper softball game!!! A fan favorite, as all our spectators enjoyed the friendly competition. Both teams played a great game with entertaining play by play commentary by Dn. Chris and Maria. The good times never end at Fanari Camp!

There ain’t no dance like a Fanari Country Western Dance! Campers came dressed in their finest chaps and spurs, for a down home hoe down tonight! Giddy Up! Marshmallows were also toasted for delicious s’mores in our outdoor fireplace, while listening to Mr. D’s infamous stories.

Wrapping up another enthusiastic day, the Athenians and Delphians were awarded our spirit sticks for the night, as our youngest and oldest campers are keeping the Fanari spirit alive this week! Finally, at Closing Day, Spartan counselor Anthony Ruggerio talked about how we’re all in the exact place we should be. God put us all here together this week for a reason, and we should take advantage of the friendships, love and blessings we’ve gained in our week here together at Fanari Camp.

It’s been a beautiful day from beginning to end. The grounds of the retreat center were filled with so much life, joy, love and laughter….you can feel this week at camp transform the lives of those here. We are truly blessed for this special time together and thankful to be under the loving care of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. One more full day until our time together comes to an end. We can’t wait to soak up every single minute of it!

Check out Session 3 Day 5 Photos!

7/11: Chanting and Games Night

Another glorious day together at Fanari Camp! Everyone is comfortable in our routine, and feeling at home at the St. Iakovos Retreat Center.

“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, several hymns that we use daily in chapel and some new parts of the Divine Liturgy. All our cabins were quiet impressive with what they were able to chant on their own! 

Free-time was jam packed with so many fun activities! The Spartans had the opportunity today to visit the Marina for some time on the lake in our boats and canoes. Others enjoyed the friendly competition of soccer, octoball and  volleyball. The waves were rolling in on our new water slide, as campers slide down with full force to enjoy the refreshing splash at the bottom! And crafty Connie Savas helped campers rinse off their tie dye shirts, that turned out bright and colorful! There was a little something for everyone to relax and enjoy some time together!

The energy was at an all time high, as the annual Fanari Olympic Games took place for Session 3 and the excitement was felt throughout the camp! Each cabin entered the games, unified in unique 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. Making memories of team work, laughter and the struggle of the agony of defeat. Congratulations goes to the spectacular Spartans, who were our victorious winners! Check out all our Facebook Live videos for a recap of the night!

As if there weren’t enough spirit throughout the camp today, Spirit sticks were also given out to our always energetic Delphians and Spartans! The Holy Spirit is growing inside of us, each and every day.

At Closing Day, we were blessed to have our Bible Study leader, Mr. D, speak about how as a young man, he wanted to serve the church and he went to the University of Athens to receive his theological degree. Upon his return to the U.S., there were no positions available to him, as a man with a vision impairment. However, he persisted in his calling and was invited to Fanari Camp to help with Bible Study. Through the guidance and love of Fr. Bill Chiganos, of blessed memory, he became the Pastoral Assistant at Holy Apostles in Westchester, IL and 40 years later, we are still blessed to have Mr. D with us each summer at camp. In celebration of his 40 years, Connie and Alex baked up his favorite pineapple upside down cake. We truly are blessed to know and love Mr. D and thankful for all the lessons he teaches us at camp. Although he can’t physically see the campers and staff, he knows our hearts, he feels our love and he inspires us all to be better christians and serve Christ and His church. Many years, Mr. D! We love you!

Finally, we ended the night with Maria and Connie leading us in singing, “I Will Magnify the Lord” and then we sang arm in arm, “Take My Hand” and a round of “Father, I Adore You” to close out what was a thrilling night of christian athletic fellowship. Another memorable day to be thankful for! After such a full and blessed day, the camper’s quickly fell asleep, as their heads hit their pillows tonight. We’ll all be dreaming of the new adventures that tomorrow will bring at Fanari Camp. Good night!

 Check out Session 3 Day 4 Photos!

7/10: Diakonia and Night with the Saints

A day for the books….new experiences, friendships blossoming and perfect weather, even the mosquitoes enjoyed!

Today’s Flex session was Diakonia, where we learned about Orthodoxy in Korea. Diakonissa Pat Hamalis shared her experience living in South Korea and touched upon the Pan-Orthodox environment of the Church and how the Church in Korea incorporates the local customs and traditions of the Korean people into the practice of the Orthodox faith.  She also spoke about the english camp that is run through the Metropolitanate of Korea and how many of the staff of Fanari have assisted in this camp.  After hearing about the church in Korea, we had the opportunity to make Feast day Icon books, that will be delivered to the Orthodox English Summer Camp in Korea by one of our very own staff members, who will be volunteering her time there this summer.

It was another gorgeous day of weather for outdoor fun at free-time! The Delphians were the first to experience the new Marina and all the canoes, paddle boats and row boats. Others took to the fields and courts to play soccer, volleyball, and basketball. For those who wanted to keep cool, campers splashed around in the water slide, the Main Lodge had visitors at the Camp Store buying up treats and Fanari swag, while all our soccer fans caught the World Cup Soccer semi-finals game of Belgium vs. France.

After dinner, we welcomed Archon Dr. John Fotopoulos, who educated our campers on our Patriarchate, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the five key issues the Archons have been championing for many years and also, the challenges they face.

Tonight’s evening activity was the calming “Night with the Saints”. Campers rotated between two activities. In the first rotation, Fr. Christos spoke 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 and St. George. Fr. Thomas also spoke about the life of St. John Maximovich and his ministry, and we had the blessing to be anointed with holy oil from the church of St. John Maximovich. In our second rotation, we discussed the Holy sacrament of confession and campers were able to ask questions and have time to reflect in their journals and prepare for confession tomorrow. It was a true blessing to discover the beautiful teachings and traditions of our Orthodox faith, and humbling to be in the presence of such holiness tonight.

Wrapping up our glorious day, our Athenians and Delphians were awarded spirit sticks for all their enthusiasm and unity throughout the day! At Closing Day, our spiritual vitamin was provided by Staff Director Maria Pentaris who talked about focusing on being our true authentic self after receiving the sacrament of Holy Confession tomorrow.

After singing the hymn “Lord of the Powers”, campers headed back to their cabins to settle in for the night and do their devotionals with the clergy before confession tomorrow. After such a full and blessed day together, we’re all sure to sleep well tonight. Glory be to God!

Check out Session 3 Day 3 Photos!

7/9: Greek Culture and Game Show

OPA! The spotlight today was on our rich Hellenic heritage through food, dance and history!

Following our morning Agismos service, lead by Fr. Chris Mihalopoulos from St. Demetrios Chicago, campers were introduced to “Alone with God”–a time campers take for their own personal prayer to clear their minds and focus on Christ and the day to come.

After a breakfast of champions, consisting of feta eggs, Greek yogurt and delicious potatoes, we were ready for our first full day of camp. Our Flex session today was Greek Culture, where we journeyed through four major city states in Ancient Greece: We started with Greek dancing and learned about Ancient Athens; In Olympia we practiced our pool noodle javelin skills; in Sparta we showed our strength with exercises in boot camp; and in Delphi we built ancient Delphian ruins from play dough.

In our other rotations, we were busy brain storming ideas for skits in Theater, and we were introduced to our theme of camp this week, “Four Doors to Christ: The Four Evangelist” in Orthodox Life and Bible Study, where we will explore exactly how the Evangelists are doors to Christ. Growing in our faith and learning more about our culture, here at Fanari Camp!

With so many choices at free-time, campers kept busy playing sports, cooling off at our water slide, playing card games, Jenga! and making friendship bracelets together. Such a fun time, exploring the grounds, hanging out with friends and enjoying our beautiful surroundings. Everyone who wishes to go boating at our new Marina this week attended an orientation to learn the rules, so they’re ready to set sail tomorrow!

Today we were visited by Fr. Jim & Presbytera Nasia Gordon, who were part of the core of our Fanari Camp program and Youth and Young Adult Ministries for many years. We are blessed to continue to build on the foundation and traditions they started here at Fanari Camp and thankful for their continual love and support.

To celebrate our last Greek meal of the day, Plateia Mediterranean Kitchen in Glenview, IL and the Papadatos family, generously donated our entire meal! Pastichio, Greek chicken, potatoes, OH MY! And don’t forget the briámi, spanakopita and Greek Salad, too! No one went away hungry, as we wrapped up an amazing day, celebrating our heritage and culture! Thank you!!!

Our evening activity was the game show, “Let’s Make A Deal!” Campers and counselors were dressed up and ready to play for big prizes and avoid the dreaded ZONK! So much fun answering questions and winning Camp Store bucks, too! Then it was time for a few fun and games, lead by our rockstar counselors Peter, Andrew, Jeremy and John. There’s nothing like letting loose and making rain, riding a roller coaster, shouting “Boomba, Hey” and singing silly repeat after me songs about Bazooka Bubblegum. Rounding out the night singing a few Fanari favorites, Deep, Pharoah, Pharoah, Seek Ye First, and Take My Hand, were the perfect ending to our first evening activity of the week. So much fun packed into one day, we can’t believe the week has just begun!

At Closing Day, Staff Director Chris Chakonas spoke about how many times we read in the Bible that we should “have no fear’ and how the opposite of fear and anxiety is trusting in God’s plan for us. The Saints were fearless, even in martyrdom, because they trusted and loved God. Beautiful words to reflect upon!

Our first two spirit sticks were awarded to the amazing Olympians and Delphians, for shining bright with the Holy Spirit within, all day long! Campers will surely sleep well tonight, as we were all blessed with another full and beautiful day at Fanari Camp.

Check out Session 3 Day 2 Photos!

Fanari Camp Session 3 Begins!

Fanari’s back……alright!!!!! Session 3 has begun and the spirit is in the air. We’re so happy to back home at the St. Iakovos Retreat Center for another Christ centered week together! Counselors eagerly awaited to meet those in their cabins and friendships have already blossomed.

After our campers were settled in, we all headed down to the cafeteria for our first meal together. Next was our orientation, where Deacon Chris went over our camp rules, schedule and we learned about our new Marina where we can go boating this week. All our spirited counselors introduced themselves and we learned what movie is their favorite! Gearing up for another fantastic week of camp.

We got spirit, yes we do, we got spirit how ’bout you?! Our Spirit Directors explained how we show that we have the Holy Spirit within, by displaying unity, love, respect and kindness during the week. Each cabin can earn spirit coins during the day and spirit sticks will be given out each night. Camp Store will be open tomorrow at free time, and we got a preview of all the cool Fanari swag and snacks that will be available to buy!

Next 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, Diakonia, Chanting, and Athletics each day. Theater Staff played some fun ice breaker games with us, as we tried to see who could “Zoom” the fastest. Afterwards, it was time for our Orthodox Sundae Bar, where we piled up our favorite toppings to make delicious ice cream sundaes. First night at Fanari Camp=so much fun!

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

What a wonderful beginning for our Session 3 campers and staff. We are excited as to what the week will bring us all! Goodnight, Fanari Campers….see you tomorrow for our first full day of camp!

Check out Session 3 Day 1 Photos!