The Orthodox Christian Youth Camp 2017

Over 200 Orthodox youth between the ages of 12 and 22 gathered at the St. Peter’s College, Larteh, in a ten-day Youth Camp organised by the Orthodox Church, Ghana.

On Tuesday 22 August, the young campers started arriving in chartered tro-tros (the mini buses used for public transport here), in taxis and even some buses. They were registered and put into two main groups under their supervisors or Camp Guides. There was immediately a lot of bonding between the young campers and the camp staff. There was an infectious joy all around. Soon, there was a slogan ringing out from gathering to gathering, from class to class, from event to event:

Learn the Orthodox Faith!
Live the Orthodox Way!

The idea was to create and provide an atmosphere of complete immersion into Orthodox life as was possible. This would be one way of strengthening the faith of our young ones, and protect them against aggressive and harmful proselytism. Daily activities included Morning Prayer and Bible Study in groups, followed by Matins. Breakfast was then followed by two study sessions with a short break in between; and then a lunch break followed in the afternoon by afternoon activities that included crafts, sports and games, talks on life issues targeted to this age group and lots of play. There was barely enough time to freshen up before we all crowded into the now too small Chapel of the Resurrection for Vespers which, like Matins, the campers sang with gusto. At each of these services one of the leaders, a local pastor gave a pep talk on how to “live the Orthodox way” and be a better Orthodox Christian. Vespers was followed by supper and an evening programme of meaningful and educative entertainment. Evening Prayer followed in small groups before the campers retired to bed.

The campers received many great ‘take-aways’. Prominent among these were the eye-catching inflatable solar lamps that will surely make studying a bit easier for the young ones in their rural communities, or when power fails, as it still often does, for the few in urban homes. Many were those who were proud to show off their bright string back packs displaying the camp logo, and the gifts they had made for their mothers on their return home.

As a first, this was a great camp, a great success. The chant of the children on the last day of the camp said it all. As they gathered in the small hall for last instruction, and in the grounds in front of the Chapel for the closing ceremony, they chanted:

Yɛpɛ a yɛnkɔ!

This does not translate well into English. They simply meant: ‘We don’t want to go!’ That chant ebbed only when they were assured that this would be an annual affair and that next year they would have not less than two weeks. That news was greeted with loud cheers of joy.

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