Hierarchs of the UOC of the USA Visit the Campers at the Diocesan Church School Encampment at All Saints Camp in Emlenton, PA
Hierarchs of the UOC of the USA Visit the Campers at the Diocesan Church School Encampment at All Saints Camp in Emlenton, PA

Ієрархи УПЦ США відвідали Український Православний Табір ВСІХ СВЯТИХ на оселі в Еленвиль, Пенсильванія

A small portion – about 100 acres - of land detached from heaven (paradise), the dwelling place of God, decorated and protected by mountain views of trees. As you enter the campgrounds the silence and beauty captivate you, taking your cares away. Silence and the hush-hush sound of the trees simply captivates you: You have arrived at All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Camp of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA: A Portion of Paradise.

The Camping Ministry of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA began on Friday, June 14, 2019. The first session, St. Nicholas Program, providesan Orthodox camping experience for families with children with disabilities of ANY age.  The campers are introduced to camp life at All Saints Camp and the parents are given the opportunity to meet fellow Orthodox parents who are tackling the same challenges in today’s world. 

The second session, Diocesan Church School Camp, which started on June 23, 2019 - offers an amazing program for children between the ages of 9 and 13.  About 100 campers and staff are enjoying fun-filled and faithful days.

On June 25, 2019, the feast day of Venerable Onufrios the Great, the hierarchs of the UOC of the USA - His Eminence Metropolitan Antony and Archbishop Daniel, traveled to Emlenton, PA to visit the campers of the Diocesan Church School Camp at All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Camp.

...The winding highway 80 brings you up to the camp exist and a short ride on a rode with twists and turns. But the road that leads to Camp, your final destination, has chipmunks and birds chirping as you drive in. The Susquehanna River views dominate your first glance and your soul is humbled. Soon you realize that our camp grounds is a little Paradise and you are eager to pray on bended knee, thanking God for the beauty of this camp setting.

The beauty of the surrounding open space, football field, camp fire at night, and the graceful mountain deer with their babies, excites your heart and opens your soul for the wonders that will happen throughout your stay. The camp staff, counselors and clergy welcome you with big smiles and open arms.  It is simply astonishing. Bravo to them!..

Mrs. Natalie Kapeluck-Nixon – the director of the Consistory Office of Youth and Adult Ministry along with the staff of the encampment prepared a two week long program for the campers. Rev. Fr. Ivan Tchopko (pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Youngstown, OH) and Very Rev. Fr. Taras Naumenko (pastor of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral; Philadelphia, PA), who serve as spiritual fathers of the encampment lead numerous prayer services of the campers and staff of the encampment.

Upon arrival to All Saints Camp, Metropolitan Antony and Vladyka Daniel surprised everybody at the recreation area, where the campers started preparing for their dinner following a full day of activities.

Meal hours are extremely special, as the cooks of the Encampment – Carol Novosel and her helpers prepare feasts for the “hungry” congregation. All children with gratitude in their eyes and on their lips approach several times a day the buffet style tables in order to get nourishment for their physical bodies.

Having given blessings to the campers, the hierarchs shared a meal with the staff and campers of the encampment. During the meal, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony called everyone’s attention to the long history of All Saints Camp: “The dream of having our own church camp began decades ago when concerned and dedicated persons with vision and a sense of responsibility for the future of our people and children took the original first steps, initiated by the faithful and the clergy of the UOC of the USA…”

Vladyka Antony named various individuals that have offered their time in caring for the youth of the Church. Among such individuals, His Eminence singled out the present director of the Consistory Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry Mrs. Natalie Kapeluck-Nixon. Vladyka-metropolitan offered sincere gratitude to Natalie for her dedication and over 20 years of service to the youth of the Church. On behalf of the Council of Bishops of the Church, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony presented Mrs. Kapeluck-Nixon with the Centennial Award – medal of St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle. The entire congregation of campers immediately started cheering and along with the seminarians of St. Sophia Seminary (who are also serving as counselors during the encampment) sang prayerful and joyful “God, Grant you many blessed years – Mnohaya Lita!”

Later in the evening, the entire chapel of Holy Apostle Thomas was filled with the chanting of Evening Prayers.It was beautifully done by all of the campers, under the leadership of the counselors and the staff of the Encampment. The evening hours of the day became even more special, once with the blessing of Metropolitan Antony, Archbishop Daniel addressed the campers, talking to them about the need to be truly equipped with the Grace of the Holy Spirit in order to live the life of a Christian. Vladyka Daniel spoke about the “Armor of God” – the teachings of Holy Apostle Paul to the Ephesians (6:10-20). Archbishop reflected on the most recent baptism of the child that he served and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that come upon us at the Holy Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation. The campers enthusiastically participated in the dialogue with their bishop, often offering remarks and asking questions. Finally, Archbishop Daniel called upon the campers to dress themselves the true armor of Faith: the Belt of Truth, The Protecting Gear of Righteousness, The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace, The Shield of Faith, The Helmet of Salvation, the Sword of the Spirit – truly preparing themselves for the life of prayer and Christian love.

In conclusion of the evening, the campers spent an hour with the hierarchs, asking various questions and having time for the veneration of the numerous icons of the chapel.

While the staff of the Camp and campers prepared the setting for the evening camp fire, Metropolitan Antony and Archbishop Daniel, escorted by Fr. Ivan Tchopko and Mr. Josua Oryhon, All Saints Camp Director, visited the newly-remodeled Millennium building, often remarking on the outstanding job that was done by the Camp staff and numerous volunteers of All Saints Camp Committee.

Bidding farewell to the campers, Metropolitan Antony gave his final blessing to the campers, while some of the younger generation of campers challenged Archbishop Daniel to a few military-style push-ups, to which bishop joyfully agreed and fulfilled the challenge.

Diocesan Church School Camp is a program of the Ukrainian Orthodox Camping Ministry and the Consistory’s Office of Youth & Young Adult Ministry for children between the ages of 9 and 13. Applications are always available in February of each year.

The second session of the camping ministry, Teenage Conference begins on July 7 for teenagers. The Mommy & Me/Daddy & Me session for parents and children ages 4 - 8 is still accepting applications, and it begins on July 28th. The applications may be downloaded at www.uocyouth.org.  Family Fest will take place Labor Day Weekend.

We ask that you keep the remainder of our Church’s Camping programming in prayer for the rest of the summer!

To learn more about the Patron Saints of the Youth of the UOC of the USA, visit the web page of the Consistory Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry at  https://www.uocyouth.org

Today the hierarchs of the UOC of the USA, with their visits to All Saints Camp and the parish communities of the Church deliver their message to the campers and the entire membership of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. It is a message that resounds in the young hearts of the youth of the Church and becomes the seeds for their service to the Church.

We thank the clergy of the Metropolia, teachers, parishes, local workers and volunteers for assistance and their participation by coming up to camp and establishing and nurturing the warm family relationship.

As we stand in worship at All Saints Camp, following a full-day’s activities, many times the gentle deer would be by us as a reminder that this is their own territory and in this “portion of paradise” the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA spirit is alive and will continue to stay alive for future generations to enjoy.

God bless our UOC of the USA and this “portion of paradise” known as All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Camp in Emlenton, PA.

Hierarchs of the UOC of the USA Visit the Campers at the Diocesan Church School Encampment at All Saints Camp in Emlenton, PA

Photos by Seminarian Yaroslav Bilohan

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