The three-week "Summer Boys" Youth Program completed its most successful year at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY on July 15. Twenty high school students from 15 to 18 years of age, the largest group in the camp’s history, gathered from across the United States and Canada to experience a unique schedule of daily liturgies, lectures, work alongside the monastics, nightly reflections, and recreational activities in beautiful, rural Upstate New York.
The students lived in the seminary dorm and were integrated into the rhythm of monastery life. Beginning each day at 6:00 AM with Divine Liturgy and concluding with Compline at 7:30 PM, the Summer Boys deepened their spiritual sensitivity by allowing God’s presence to fill every moment of the day: church, education, work, and play. Frequent confession and Communion was the norm, and Archimandrite Luke (Murianka), abbot of the monastery and rector of the seminary, offered private consultation to any interested camper, hosted a question and answer session with the group, and even took everyone out for Chinese food.
After daily Divine Liturgy, breakfast, and morning rest, the youth assembled in the Seminary Hall for lectures on diverse topics of interest to Orthodox teens: the afterlife, Church and state relations, justifiable war in the Orthodox moral tradition, technology, the occult in popular culture, and Rock & Roll. The speakers and group discussion leaders included Archpriest Alexander Webster (dean of the seminary and professor of Moral Theology), Priest Ephraim Willmarth (assistant dean of the seminary and director of admissions), Priest Edward Henderson (rector of St. John the Baptist Church in Berkeley, CA), Priest Demetrio Romeo (rector of St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon Mission in Coconut Creek, FL), Protodeacon Victor Lochmatow (associate professor of Russian Literature at the seminary), Dr. Anna Radovic (visiting assistant professor of Molecular Biology at Salve Regina University), Edward Novis (lecturer in Philosophy and English at the seminary), and Rassophore monk Angelos (Stanway; cleric of Holy Trinity Monastery).
The teens then went to work with monastics on their obediences, gaining a hands-on experience of life in the monastery and establishing personal ties with the monks – a rare privilege for Orthodox teens. Tasks included working in the candle factory, helping in the garden, preparing incense, and tending the graveyard.
Finally, afternoons were dedicated to recreational activities. The boys hiked, swam, boated, fished, and played soccer, Ping-Pong and chess. With a BBQ every week, movie nights, a field trip to nearby Fort Stanwix, 4th of July fireworks, and laser tag, the teens’ time in Jordanville was filled typical American teenage entertainment, as well as with serious spiritual contemplation.