Summer camp ministry this year has begun throughout our Holy Metropolis. This year, six summer camp sessions will be taking place: two in the province of Ontario; one in Quebec; one in Halifax, Nova Scotia, ministering to the youth of Eastern Canada; one in Vancouver, for all of the youth in British Columbia; and one in Winnipeg, for the youth in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.
The first week of camp in Ontario is taking place at the idyllic camp site owned by the Metropolis. Summer camps take place in a convenient location between Toronto and Montreal, so that the sessions for both Ontario and Quebec can have access to the facilities.
It is 84 acres of land, on a beautiful lake; it has 12 buildings, which are equipped with heating and air conditioning. This way, they can be used in both the winter and summer months.
Leading the first week of camp is the National Camp Director, Fr. T. Drakos. More than 140 youth and 25 counselors are taking part in the camp this week. Metropolitan Sotirios celebrated the Divine Liturgy on Thursday, July 6th, at which time all the campers and counselors received Holy Communion.
The camp program includes, among other activities, camper participation in the Sacrament of Repentance and Confession, along with participating in the Divine Liturgy and receiving Holy Communion.
All parents attest that their children arrive back home from camp with a renewed love for the Church and the Greek culture.
Two more periods of summer camps will take place this year, with approximately the same number of children participating. Next week there will be another group of campers and counselors from Ontario. Leading this week of camp are Frs. T. Paraskevopoulos and E. Drossos. The third week will host the campers from Quebec, which will be led by Fr. Z. Nterekas.
Camp sites are rented in all other provinces. The Camp Directors for the other provinces are: Fr. P. Maropoulos (Halifax), Fr. C. Economos (Vancouver), and Fr. K. Tsiolas (Winnipeg).
Metropolitan Sotirios spoke to the campers, volunteers, counselors, and the administrative team with much pastoral love. He emphasized to them the importance of camp ministry for the perpetuation of our Orthodox faith and Greek culture. He thanked all the organizers, volunteers, and counselors, praising the Thrice-Holy God for the amazing work which is being accomplished at our camps.
The theme of our camps this year is “Heroes – Apostles”. Metropolitan Sotirios spoke on this topic, asking all the campers – and everyone in general – to be guided by the heroic spirit of the martyrs and the zeal of the Apostles. Our Christian faith today is being tested and persecuted by many. It is the responsibility of all of us to be Christians in heart and soul, and not merely be labelled a “Christian” because we have a baptism certificate. In the book of Revelation, God asks all of us to not be cold or lukewarm in our faith, but have a living faith. With this living faith, we will be able to deal with all the problems in our lives. We will then be proven to be true heroes and apostles for Christ. We will be victors in this life. We will be able to become heirs of the Heavenly Kingdom, which is the final goal and purpose of our lives.