Following the success of the inaugural Sunday School camp last year, the Archdiocesan District of Adelaide, with the blessing of our Father and Archbishop, His Eminence Makarios of Australia, built on that success by hosting the second camp, from October 11th-13th 2022, for boys and girls 10 to 13 years old.
The camp was again hosted at the picturesque Mylor Adventure Camp, run by Baptist Care SA in the Adelaide Hills. It was an ideal location, being a convenient 40-minute drive from the CBD. This year’s camp had a solid 52 children attending, together on the bus for the trip up to the site, leaving bright and early (8:30am) from the parish of St Nectarios.
On arrival at Mylor, the children and volunteers gathered for the opening agiasmo service (led by Fr Jeremy Krieg from Greek Welfare Centre/St Nectarios and Fr Daniel Bradshaw of St Spyridon College/St Nectarios) to open the camp, which was followed by a campsite induction.
Over the three days of the camp, the children were divided into a variety of different groups – activity groups (for fun activities), lesson groups (for lessons about the Faith) and combined sessions with all the children together. Activities were professionally run by the site, reprising some of the old favourites from last year (flying fox and giant swing) as well as some new ones (archery and crate stacking).
The theme of this year’s camp was “the four Gospels”, and the lesson groups were based on this theme. Each of the four groups was assigned a Gospel and its corresponding Evangelist.
The children were again well fed by the hard-working volunteers of the Central Philoptochos and associates, and the singing at meal times again proved a hit. Roasting marshmallows and singing songs around the campfire on the opening night was also extremely popular.
Each day began and ended with group prayer, teaching our children the basics of an Orthodox prayer life and encouraging them to develop/reinforce this habit as something natural for the Orthodox Christian.
The camp culminated on Thursday morning with a Divine Liturgy in the campsite’s chapel. The service was officiated by the Archepiscopal Vicar of the District of Adelaide, His Grace Bishop Silouan – who generously gave of his time to come and address the children. His Grace was assisted by Fr Jeremy who co-celebrated, and a number of the camp volunteers who doubled up as chanters.
After the Liturgy, the children and volunteers all made their way back to the hall of Prophet Elias, where they had their last meal together, generously provided by the Philoptochos of Prophet Elias, Norwood. The parish’s hall – equipped as it is with a stage – was an ideal location for the children to present the performances to their parents. Each play was based on a parable from the Gospel that they had been assigned, and were a great way for the parents to see what their kids had learned on the camp.
A big thanks must again go to the volunteer camp coordinators and supervisors, without whom the camp would not have been possible. Their dedication to our children and the personal sacrifices (both in time and money) they made to invest in their spiritual development was (and is) to be admired. Again, special mention must also be made of the volunteer cooks from the Central Philoptochos, who ensured that the children were all well-fed.
The feedback from the children about the camp has been overwhelmingly positive, with many of them excited about doing it again next year.
The camp coordination team has had the opportunity to build on the experience gained in the first camp, and is hopefully now well-placed to be able to improve them further into the future and perhaps even arrange something for the older age groups with God’s help.