Verkhovyna recreational camp «The purpose of freedom is to create the good!»

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«The purpose of freedom is to create the good!»

This golden motto of the Ukrainian Youth Association for 2018, taken from the words of the Servant of God Lubomyr Husar, are an inspiration for those who value the greatest gift which humans possess – free will. It is a guiding light for anyone who recognizes their own responsibility to work towards the good of all by using this gift wisely.Not only members of UYA, but every Ukrainian patriot in each era of our turbulent past has understood this and acted accordingly. Our greatest heroes have lived fully by this principle, in many cases choosing death rather than betraying it. It is therefore no wonder that the name of the 2018 children’s summer camp at Verkhovyna in Chertsey, Quebec, was«Collaborators in the Service of God in honour of the 70thanniversary of UYA Canada».

Kozak horsemen held as their ideals both personal and national freedom, and their unwavering faith in God fostered their determination to strive tirelessly for the good of their people and their land. This year, we mark the 150thanniversary of the largest haydamak uprising under the leadership of the famed kozak Maksym Zalizniak. His name was legend for the soldiers of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. UYA summer camp, too, resembled to some degree the Zaporizhian Sich during two idyllic weeks in July, 2018.

The leadership of a camp always sets the tone for any summer camp. Andrij Lysovych as komendant struck the perfect balance of showing affection and respect toward each child and member of the leadership team yet, when necessary, employing appropriate discipline. Nicholas Marcotte-Hanycz,bunchuzhnyj, diligently kept the camp to the daily schedule and smoothly transitioned everyone through unexpected changes. There were two program directors; Tanya Choly used her wealth of experience to lead an exemplary program during the first week, which allowed Natalya Schturyn to seamlessly take over the role in week two. Nurse Olesia Koretsky treated each skinned knee and splinter, every tummyache and bout of homesickness with tireless patience. Arts and crafts coordinator Chrystia Krutyholovaimaginatively and resourcefully endeavoured to instill a love of art to campers. Nina Semchyshyn, who joined camp for the second week, worked to allow the natural magic of music to resonate in the young hearts of the children. Arianna Holovka-Lysovych with the help of Larysa Yurchen took charge of the youngest, the sumeniata, with their customary enthusiasm and energy.

The children’s counselors lived, ate, learned and played with the children for two weeks, never shirking their roles as their inspiration and mentors.Sofia Kyslevych, Lesia Kostiw, Vita Khmil and Dania Schturyn (second week) were responsible for the girls. Helping them were Emilia Harasymowych, Julia Kiszczuk, Natalia Krupa, Kira Pekar and Ariana Tuckyj. Looking after the boys were Adrian Koretsky and Myroslav Schturyn (second week). Their helpers were Lesyk Choly,Matthew Kutash and lifeguard par excellence Colin. Campers no doubt returned home with many wonderful memories of the caregivers who took such interest in them and showed them such kindness and love.

No camp can run with adequate preparation and this one was no different. Daria Hanycz, head of the organizing committee, worked determinedly against the calendar and through every obstacle to have everything in place. From staffing camp and kitchen to equipping each cabin with soap and kitchen with groceries to arranging field trips, Daria took care of every detail, so that with the arrival on opening day of 50 children plus almost ten sumeniata, all felt right at home.

The Verkhovyna two-week camp opened on July 15, 2018, with close to 80 campers, sumeniata and staff. Fr. Jaroslav Pivtorak served Divine Liturgy in the chapel, after which children settled into the cabins and spent a final few hours with their parents. Supper marked the unofficial start of camp.Although the general theme of camp was ‘Kozaks’, each day a lesson was held relating to one of the anniversaries of SUM for this year. The daily motto reinforced the topic of the day.Themes included the 100thanniversary of the Ukrainian Black Sea Fleet, the 100thanniversaryof Ukrainian Independence, the 100thanniversary of the battle of Kruty, the 100thanniversary of the November Uprising, the 85thanniversary of the Holodomor, the 100thanniversary the modern tryzub, flag and hryvnia and the 70thanniversary of the UYA in Canada. In addition to these, the Holodomor teaching bus visited Verkhovyna, giving most of the campers, plus interested guests from the Verkhovyna private dwellings, the opportunity to attend a special presentation on the Holodomor. It was also the delight of the campers to welcome Mykola Lynnyk, veteran of the Ukrainian ATO. The touching melodies of patriotic songs and the innovative crafts helped fortify these daily lessons. A video greeting shared with other UYA members across the planet in commemoration of the 100thanniversary of the Ukrainian Black Sea Fleet gave everyone a chance to feel part of an extended UYA family.

Camp, however, had yet another valuable purpose: to contribute to the campers’ physical and emotional growth.For this purpose, time was set aside each day for swimming and sports, and evening activities included dancing, stargazing, whole-camp soccer, Jeopardy, Midsummer Night’s Eve/St. John the Baptist, campfire with singing and marshmallows, writing of letters to Ukrainian soldiers, kozak games, a grand kozak banquet and two zabavy with Ukrainian music. Two especially exciting field trips challenged the children physically. Two impressive bonfires showcased the children’s talents and demonstrated to parents what they had learned. Bedtime was marked each evening by singing the lovely prayer “Evening has come”.

All ended the same way it began, with the celebration of Divine Liturgy. «Collaborators in the Service of God in honour of the 70thanniversary of UYA Canada» had played its part in the lives of the young participants, reminding us that even when resting from our everyday responsibilities, we face the call to live out our freedomby always doing what is right and good. The twin guardians of our hearts, our homeland and our beloved UYA hold us to this mission.

Natalya Schturyn

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