It was immediately evident at vykhovno-vidpochynkovyj camp at Verkhovyna, Quebec, that camp staff would work extraordinarily well together, as cooperation and support for one another kept things running exceedingly smoothly. From the very first day, there was an unspoken understanding that, when something needed taking care of, the person on the spot would simply…do it.

The komendant of this dream team was pod. Daria Humenna. Her discretion, wisdom, experience and attentiveness to each child or adult who approached her evoked only the very best from those under her watch. The program director was pod. Natalya Schturyn. The role of bunchuzhna was skillfully managed by two talented young women, pod. Dania Schturyn and pod. Ivanna Skotar, whose very late nights monitoring the security of the camp and full days keeping an eye on the myriad activities gave witness to their dedication. Leaders of the boy groups and the girl groups, dr. AdrianKoretskiandpod. OlenaKania, respectively, despite their responsibility for their own groups, took an active interest in and provided support for other group leaders. These leaders, in turn, took upon themselves a variety of leadership responsibilities for the camp. Among these committed young persons were pod. Nina Semchyshyn, who organized a daily music session with the campers and led the evening activities along with pod. Lesia Kostiw; pod. Taisa Karpishka, who was responsible for the craft sessions; dr. Pavlo Humennyj, camp tech support and dr. Paul Kuzyshyn, sports director. This group formed the backbone of the camp staff. 

In addition to this foundation, there were a cadre of vporyadnyky and their younger assistants who, worked diligently with their groups. Even at mealtimes the teens sat contentedly talking and laughing with their young charges; their devotion to the campers was obvious. Vporyadnyky were pod. Emilia Harasymowych, pod. Natalia Krupa, pod. Kira Pekar, dr. Lesyk Choly and pod. Julia Kiszczuk. The assistants were dr. Luka Karpishka, dr. Nykola Kuzyshyn, dr. Victor Kuzyshyn and dr. Matthew Kutash, who ran the sport activities during the second week. The maturity and self-discipline of these young people were remarkable, which allowed excellent communication with the senior staff. 

Working closely with the staff on site in running several brilliant craft activities were pod. Tania Napora and pod. Melania Lysowych, who put great efforts into conveying the chosen teaching themes through art. Similarly, pod. Anna Kij and dr. Mark Rytchuk enthusiastically and painstakingly helped prepare the final camp montage. Pod. Serena Kiszczuk, with her customary energy and readiness to cooperate, solved every dilemma and fulfilled each frantic request. 

The program of the camp was based upon chosen anniversaries of the Ukrainian nation and the SUM community. For the first week of camp the theme was the life of St. Olha, mother of Ukrainian Christianity, whose quality lives on in her spiritual descendants, blessed Omelan Kovch and Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky. The children learned that members of SUM continue to demonstrate moral leadership of their community by their generous charitable efforts. The camp presented a montage of the life of St. Olha at the end of the first week. Here, scenes representing the pre-Christian world, the marriage of Olha and Ihor, the destruction of Iskorosten’, her wisdom in ruling, her baptism and the still-present recognition of her matriarchy in the hearts of Ukrainian Christians were displayed. Following this, songs and skits around the campfire gave guests an opportunity to enjoy the creativity and talents of the children.

The theme of the second week was the ideal of respecting the dignity of each person, as shown in the sacrifice of the Holy Hundred five years ago. Lessons on the topics of the composer Volodymyr Ivasiuk and OUN helped to convey this idea. After the success of the first week’s montage, it was decided to repeat a similar presentation on a bigger scale while showing the events of the Revolution of Dignity. Narrated scenes of the call to participation in the Euromaidan, the first attempt to clear the Maidan of protestors, the urgent call to Kyivans via the bells of St. Michael’s Church and the hospital on the premises there, Christmas in solidarity on the Maidan, the horrific events of February during which the new martyrs of the Holy Hundred gave up their lives and the heartfelt message to continue to follow the example of these heroes were portrayed. Even the youngest campers played their roles with pride, showing their admiration for their brothers and sisters who actively changed history for the better instead of passively giving in to fate.

Final goodbyes, as always, proved very difficult, but the verdict of each one was the same: camp is a moment out of time, out of place, where impressions and memories can last a lifetime. Goodbye, Verkhovyno, for yet another year! Thank you for this one more glorious year of wonder! 

For additional photos please visit our gallery: camp album.

Natalie Schturyn – head counsellor