About the author:
My name is Anna Kropov. Though I was born in Manhattan, NY, I come from a family of Orthodox Christians from Russia. Currently I live in Scranton, PA, attending St. Tikhon's Monastery. I have spent nine years at St. Seraphim Camp, starting off in Girls 1 to becoming a counselor. This fall, I will start college at Ohio University and plan to be a part of our growing Orthodox Christian Fellowship on campus.
Back in 2008, my parents brought up Saint Seraphim Camp to me and I shot it down. I never spent more than one night away from home, and forcing me to go to some camp I had never heard of sounded ridiculous. Then it was 2009, and the day came for my parents to drop me off in the middle of the woods. I didn’t understand why they thought it would work out. Who sends a shy 10-year-old girl to a place where she only knows two people, neither of whom is in her group?
But that day, the counselors found two other girls for me to tent with for the week, one of whom became the bestest friend I’ve ever had in my life. On the last day, I cried after we said goodbye. The week went by so fast and I loved every minute of it. Little did I know that, eight years later, she’d still be the closest person I have.
Throughout my nine years of camp, I have grown immensely in my spiritual life. The clergy have taught me countless lessons through our Law of God talks, and inspired me to be a better person. I have made so many incredible friendships, and grown up with the people that have gone with me every year. My friends are my soul sisters, my family and the people who keep me going at the worst points in my life.
I never thought that St. Seraphim’s would change my life the way it did, but I'm so blessed that I have this beautiful place to call home for a week every year.
Camp makes you stop and think for once. When was the last time you stopped to look at the stars at night? Named the constellations? Listened to the sound of the crickets? How often do you get to roast s’mores by the bonfire with your tentmates? You get to see the true beauty our souls reflect here.
Those are the times that I wish I could freeze and keep forever. The days spent tubing down the beautiful river. You can’t help laughing at how ridiculous your friends look during the camp Olympics. Even though you are so embarrassed, these are some of the moments you’ll fondly look back on at the end of the week.
Before we know it, it’s Friday. We’re screaming our favorite songs at the top of our lungs on each other’s shoulders when "YMCA" plays at the camp dance. It’s times like those conga lines that run outside and back into the mess hall that you swear your heart could burst from happiness.
Then it’s church and all you can think of is how beautiful the service is, but how heartbreaking it is to think that our time is coming to an end.
So, to anyone who’s contemplating their first year at St. Seraphim’s, whether to return, to send their kids, or start off as a counselor, just go. You will have the time of your life and come back as a different person.
Thank you to the incredible camp staff for watching me grow into a college student who finished her first year as a junior counselor, when you remember the first day a skeptical little girl with messy brown hair walked through the mess hall doors on her very first day at camp.