Mommy and Me/Daddy and Me 2014 participants enjoyed a wonderful, if somewhat chilly encampment this year. Families traveled from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana to spend a week at the beautiful All Saints Camp facility in Emlenton, PA learning more about the week’s theme, “I Am…”. The week provided exciting activities for the children, a relaxing setting for parents, and spiritually edifying programming for all.
Our adult staff and Big Brothers and Big Sisters arrived on Sunday evening, July 27th in order to prepare the facility and participate in staff training to provide an excellent experience for our campers. Families arrived in the afternoon on Monday, July 28th and began the week with a Small Compline service. Following a delicious dinner, parents got to know one another while the campers began their first craft activities. They made small bracelets with beads spelling out the theme, “I Am” and decorated the covers of their “I Am” books which would be filled with icons of Christ throughout the week. An early bedtime allowed everyone a chance to be well rested for the week’s events.
After completing Morning Prayers and filling up on the breakfast meal, families participated in the annual Prayer Trail walk on Tuesday morning. The campers followed a map and completed a hunt for clues to learn about their first “I Am” of Christ, which was “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” When families returned, the kitchen staff had prepared dough for homemade bread which families braided and shaped into loaves as they learned about the time when Christ said, “I Am the Bread of Life.” Campers then marched in the MMDM Olympic Opening Ceremonies and refueled at lunch. The afternoon was spent relaxing in the cabins and playing at the swimming pool and sport areas. Families gathered in the St. Thomas Chapel for the evening Small Compline then headed to the dining hall for dinner. We rounded out the evening with a cozy campfire where there was singing, dancing, and plenty of s’mores.
Wednesday morning families split into groups of adults and children for their spiritual education classes. Parents participated in the first part of a two day workshop in the Millennium Cultural Center. Their discussions were led by V. Rev. Fr. John Haluszczak from St. Vladimir’s UOC in South Side Pittsburgh, PA, and focused on using the “I Am’s” of Christ as examples in their efforts to guide and parent their children. The children learned about two more “I Am’s” in smaller group lessons based on age. The children learned about “I Am the Light of the World” by using candles to observe the light produced by their flames. They decorated candles holders to take home and remind them of this light. The next activities focused on “I Am the Resurrection.” The children discussed Paschal traditions followed by their families and home parishes. After reading The Miracle of the Red Egg by Elizabeth Crispina Johnson, the campers decorated paper eggs. One egg was painted red to remind them of the confirmation of the Resurrection that was shown to Emperor Tiberius through the red egg. The other egg was painted to look like a traditional Ukrainian pysanky. Wednesday afternoon was quite damp, but campers squeezed in several rounds of Olympic events then made the best of the rainy weather playing board games in the pavilion. After prayers and dinner, the rain let up and we were able to complete two family craft projects. They used paint to decorate “I Am the Vine” wall art and decorated baby blankets to be sent to the Pittsburgh site of FOCUS North America. Parents finished the evening with a cozy fire in the dining room during their annual Parents Night Out.
Parents and children spent Thursday morning in their education classes once again. The parents continued their discussions with Fr. John and the children continued to work on “I Am the Vine” projects, as well as “I Am the Good Shepherd” and “I Am the Door.” The children played games to learn the responsibilities of a shepherd and the nature of the relationship between the shepherd and his or her flock. They also learned that the shepherd traditionally acted as the door to the pasture, keeping the sheep in the right fields while guarding them from danger. The campers decorated wooden crosses which can be hung on their door at home. Campers then took a walk to the St. Thomas chapel where several of the icons helped to reinforce lessons taught throughout the week. They also paid close attention to their environment, looking for vines and branches. When they returned to the pavilion, they finished decorating pots that would be potted with vines and learned about how we can be good branches on Christ’s Vine. Families joined together again for lunch and aquatic Olympic events, followed by a sunny afternoon of games and rest. Daily Vespers were served, followed by dinner. Prior to heading down for the final campfire, campers participated in a giant, glow-in-the-dark soccer game. A great time was had by all! The campfire was warm and inviting and many of our families contributed new songs and stories, adding to the fun.
Friday morning began with Divine Liturgy in the Saint Thomas Chapel, followed by brunch and a brief program where campers showcased what they learned throughout the week. We also honored our Olympic bean bag participants and three graduates. We look forward to seeing them next year at DCSC!
MMDM 2015 will be the 15th encampment so mark your calendars for what is sure to be an exciting and event filled week. The encampment will run July 27th-July 31st 2015. Hope to see you there!
by Kira Senedak