Kenilworth, NJ.- Camp Good Shepherd, the official summer camp of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey, with the blessings and enthusiastic support of His Eminence, Metropolitan EVANGELOS of New Jersey, attracted a record number of campers for the 3rd straight year in a row, representing a 547% increase since its relocation within the physical boundaries of the Holy Metropolis of New Jersey.
The two-week summer camp was held from July 8-14 (GOYA) and July 15-21 (JOY) at the Linwood MacDonald YMCA Environmental Education and Conference Center in Branchville, NJ, with over 125 Campers, Counselors and Clergy from throughout the Holy Metropolis of New Jersey in attendance. Beautiful weather and optimistic spirits joined forces to create a most memorable camping experience for all, to the point at which most campers wished the sessions had been two weeks long each.
Swimming, canoeing, hiking, wall climbing, archery, soccer, dodge ball, basketball, capture the flag, arts and crafts, and Greek dancing are just of the few activities that were enjoyed by the jovial campers. Clergy from throughout the Metropolis led the Orthodox Life and Sounding Board sessions, which focused on the 12 Great Feasts and social issues. Evening Devotionals were led by dedicated counselors, which included current Seminarians and students from Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.
The campʼs main objective, which is to help our young people grow in our Orthodox Faith, was realized through the liturgical services offered throughout the week, culminating in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, as well as the group and individual discussions held well into the night with the campʼs Clergy. Clergy also heard confessions from almost all of the campers as they prepared for the Divine Liturgy and sought spiritual direction, a major focus of Camp Good Shepherd. Indeed, one of the most unique characteristics and highly anticipated aspects of this camp has been the opportunity for our young people to have in-depth discussions about their problems, concerns, and spiritual direction with caring clergy.
Each week, the campers and staff welcomed His Eminence, Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey along with parents during the Family Barbeque and Greek Glendi Night that was hosted in their honor. As a father who loves his children, His Eminence embraced all of the campers with much love and jubilation, visibly pleased by the smiles on their faces and the unequivocal euphoria that was most evident among all.
Speaking to the campers, His Eminence reminded them that, “our Lord is love, and this love is exemplified in the respect and love that you share for each other, as Orthodox Christians, and in the strong friendships that you form during Camp Good Shepherd.” His Eminence also expressed his gratitude to the parents present for visiting the camp and for taking the initiative to send their children to this wonderful camping ministry. Finally, Metropolitan Evangelos thanked Archimandrite George Nikas, Camp Director, and Mr. Marinos Sarantakos, Program Director, along with all of the other Clergy and Counselors who worked diligently to provide a spiritual and enjoyable camp experience for all of the young people.
Highlights of the 2007 Camp Good Shepherd experience included two Greek Dance nights, Skit nights, and a special Baseball Game outing during the JOY week. Ice cream treats from the local Dairy Queen and souvlakia from Astoria were only a few of the special treats that added to the truly unforgettable time enjoyed by all. Itʼs no wonder why, when asked by His Eminence, “What do you like about Camp Good Shepherd,” the most common answer from the campers was, “Everything!”
Preparations are already underway for a Camp Good Shepherd Reunion and Winter Retreat planned for this coming December. Anyone interested in learning more about this exciting youth ministry of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey should call Fr. George Nikas at 908-686-0003. The 2008 dates for the camp will be announced in the near future, with continuing increased attendance expected for both the GOYA and JOY sessions. Orthodox Christians wishing to be considered for Staff positions during next yearʼs camp should also contact the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey.