Travel from Toronto and Hamilton to CYM “Weselka” near Acton, Ontario: approximately 70km; Ottawa to “Weselka”, about 400km and from Edmonton and Calgary over 2700km by airplane. You guessed it! Sumivtsi from Ottawa, Toronto, Etobicoke, Mississauga, Hamilton, Calgary and Edmonton travelled great distances to take part in this annual leadership camp organized by the National Executive of the Ukrainian Youth Association of Canada. Although geography may distance us from one another, it is the love of God and Ukraine that unites us. This was most evident during the opening ceremony of our camp. All of the camp participants, dressed in their uniforms, wholeheartedly took part in Divine Liturgy celebrated by Rev. Taras Dusanowskyj followed by the flag raising ceremony. Kudos to all of the branches for preparing their youth so well for “vyskil” or leadership camp.
This year’s resident team of camp counsellors, called on by the National Executive, consisted of the following: Harry Nesmasznyj (Toronto) – commandant, Laryssa Baran (Hamilton) – bunchuzhna, Natalia Kardasz (Etobicoke) – educational coordinator / head instructor, Olenka Laschuk (Ottawa) – secretary, Michael Kostruba (Etobicoke) – lifeguard and Eerka Shust (Toronto) – instructor. Our meals were prepared by Mr. & Mrs. Czoli from Baby Point Lounge Catering, and specifically pani Hanya and pani Mariyka. The administration/ grounds management team included Petro Hucal, Vasyl’ Hladun and Yevhen Petruk. Everyone worked well together to ensure a successful leadership camp for the participants.
The campers took part in daily lessons in CYMology (H. Nesmasznyj), leadership (L. Baran and N. Kardasz), methodology and child development (E. Shust and A. Ostapiuk), and theology (O. Laschuk). In addition, guest speakers drove in daily to the camp with various interesting lectures. The main goal of the leadership camp was to prepare youth from age 15 to work at the branch level as well as with younger youth, if they so desire. This is why the central focus of this leadership program was to transform acquired knowledge into practical skills in order to provide the necessary tools for leadership. Some of this year’s topics included Knowledge of Nature (Markian Grod), Women of UPA (Natalia Kardasz), Patriarch Josyf Slipyj (Tania Choly), Mykola Lysenko (Maria Wowk), History of Ukraine (Markian Shwec), Youth Merits (Marko Diaczun), 70th Anniversary of UPA (Taras Antoniw), Present Day Ukraine (Harry Nesmasznyj), Ukraine Elections (Olyana Grod, President CYM Canada), Target Practice (Bohdan Gogus) and Dance (Denys Drozdyuk). Rev. Andrij Figol also visited us on the second Sunday to celebrate Divine Liturgy and delivered a meaningful sermon. The camp’s program was augmented with activities such as sports, lots of swimming in the pool thanks to the hot weather, singing and marching. In other words, there was not a lot of free time!
During the first week, the campers went on a field trip to Barrie, Ontario and tried out some zip lining at “Treetop Trekking.” In some areas the zip lines were over 20 meters off the ground and only the bravest attempted them.
The second week had the campers put their knowledge to the test as they organized and completed their assigned projects and had the opportunity to do some practicum. Leadership campers were divided into smaller groups to organize activities involving sing-a-longs, sports, nature activities, crafts and games for the Day Camp children aged 5-7 years who were at “Weselka” during this time. The Day Campers were treated to a fun day of amazing and creative activities. Over the course of the two weeks, leadership campers also worked on specifically assigned projects related to the major anniversary dates being commemorated by our organization in 2012. They were able to present their project topics in a multitude of creative and resourceful ways to pay tribute to heroes of Ukraine.
Everyone was congratulated for their successful projects and reminded that progressive hard work and commitment are key factors in the life of sumivtsi. That same day, Denys Drozdyuk, winner of “So You Think You Can Dance, Canada” visited camp to do a dance workshop with the leadership campers. Everyone was sooooo thrilled to meet Denys! What a great example and inspiration he was to everyone that hard work, commitment and perseverance can lead each of them to greater heights.
The leadership camp came to a close with lots of hugs and tears, exchanges of e-mails and phone numbers before everyone left for home. The National Executive can be sure that the camp’s team of counsellors fulfilled its duties conscientiously and successfully since, within just a few hours of camp ending, campers were sending e-mails to each other and posting their photos of camp on Facebook and other social media!
We acknowledge and praise the educational coordinator, Natalia Kardasz, whose dedication and excellent planning resulted in an unforgettable leadership camp. We are grateful for the commitment and cooperation of the camp team-komanda, the kitchen staff and technical support personnel. The greatest recognition, however, goes out to the leadership camp participants for their energy, resourcefulness, sense of humor, creativity and great attitude, and congratulations to everyone for successfully passing the final exam!