The Association of Russian Explorers Outside of Russia (NORR) successfully ran its 53rd summer camp in the Catskill Mountains of New York from July 1-21st. Over 120 people, including campers, leadership trainees, and volunteer counselors, instructors and staff, came from New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, and even Russia, to spend three weeks together at camp.
For the camp opening and part of the first week, Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY, sent the icon of the Holy Apostles Peter & Paul with their relics to camp for veneration.
The typical camp day starts with exercises, followed by formation at the flagpole for morning prayers and the raising of the flags. After breakfast, the campers attend lessons on subjects including Law of God, Russian Language, History, Arts & Crafts, Scouting Skills, Dance, and Singing. All lessons are taught exclusively in Russian. Following lunch and a mandatory rest period, the children swim and play sports. Some of the favorite evening activities include "capture the flag," campfires, dances, barbeques, and games. Campers enjoy day hikes to the brook, while the leadership trainees anxiously await the overnight hike in the mountains.
On July 11, the eve of the patronal feast day of the camp’s chapel, named for the Holy Leaders of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the camp joyously and warmly greeted His Grace Nicholas, Bishop of Manhattan, along with the wonderworking Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God. Concelebrating with His Grace at the festal Liturgy on July 12 were the camp’s spiritual advisor Archpriest Constantine Semyanko, Archpriest Alexandre Antchoutine, Priest George Temidis, and Protodeacon Serge Arlievsky. Almost the entire camp partook of Christ’s Holy Mysteries.
In the evening, everyone gathered at the campfire. Bishop Nicholas enjoyed the camp songs and interacted with the youth.
On Saturday evening, after All-Night Vigil, as dusk settled, the camp lined up at the flagpole to conduct the annual memorial "Roll call," remembering those no longer with us, and their efforts and contributions to the organization and running of the camp. The solemn and beautiful sounds of the ceremony traversed the fields and woods, concluding with favorite songs welcoming nightfall, and honoring the dutiful and brave.
After Sunday’s Liturgy, many guests came to the camp’s traditional parade with the newly inducted young explorers giving their Solemn Oath before the entire assembly. After lunch, the camp concert provided an opportunity for all to see the fruits of the camp program, with the camp choir singing Russian songs, and all the campers, (junior group, senior group, and leadership trainees) dancing traditional Russian dances, including gopak to "The Crescent Moon is Shining," "Carousel," and "Troika." They were rewarded with boisterous applause from the audience. After the performance, everyone was treated to pirozhki made by the campers, as well as baked sweets. Bishop Nicholas spent four days in camp and left NORR that evening, with the revered Kursk Root Icon. All were very pleased to have had the opportunity to pray to the Mother of God before her holy image throughout these days.
On the feast of the Holy Royal Martyrs, July 17, festal Liturgy was served by Frs. Constantine, George, and Serge, joined by Deacon Nicholas Lochmatow. Fr. Alexandre heard confessions and prayed in the altar. Many of the communicants were also celebrating their namesday.
On the last day, after the Thanksgiving prayer service and lowering of the flags, the entire camp gathered for another group photograph. It was sad for everyone to go their separate ways – until next summer – but it was time to say goodbye and to return home. Everyone carried away their summer memories and strong friendships.