On January 19th, teens from parishes in Southern and Northern California and Arizona headed to Camp St Nicholas for the first ever Camp St. Nicholas Winter Camp. There were about 50 of us there to fellowship, learn, and have fun in the snow! Our speakers this year were Father James Coles from St. Ignatius Mission in Mesa, AZ and Katrina Bitar, Camp Director and Youth Director at St. George in Phoenix, AZ. They both lead workshops on the theme “I’ve got soul and I’m a soldier.” The first night Father James Coles gave us an introduction to our weekend and to our theme. Our camp director Katrina Bitar had several “ice breaker” activities planned for everyone to get acquainted, including group discussion time, finger fencing duels, and thumb wars. After this we said our evening prayers together and called it a night.
We started the next morning with the Akathist of Thanksgiving, what a beautiful way to start the day! After breakfast Father James taught us about the ultimate soldier, St. John the Baptist. He encouraged us to follow his example of extreme devotion to faith. He also challenged the teens to choose to live the Christian life and fight the battle against sin. After this we had some group discussion time. We then had plenty of time to play in the snow and sled on the hills until lunch.
After lunch we had War of the Worlds! These were several team activities Katrina had planned to help the teens learn to work together and apply important bible lessons to everyday life. The teens were split into teams and each team chose their country name and worked together to overcome obstacles and make it through the game. All the teams worked together well and it was a close game in the end!
That afternoon Father John Reimann and his family as well as Father David Kruse joined us in time for root-beer floats and more snow fun before great vespers and dinner. Katrina gave our second workshop session on the armor of God. Several of the campers fashioned the various pieces of the armor out of cardboard and metal and even added crosses with pipe cleaners! One of our campers, Luke Pettygrove, was our “soldier” and was dressed in the armor as Katrina taught us about each piece and its importance as taught to us in Ephesians chapter 6. Following the session we had snacks, watched the Disney movie Mulan, and hangout out until it was time for bed.
The next morning we celebrated the Divine Liturgy together. We were blessed with a beautiful morning for our last day at camp! After service we ate breakfast together and then it was time to clean up the rooms and prepare to head home. Once the cars were packed and the cabins were cleaned everyone reluctantly bid each other farewell, but just until summer camp!
By: Marina Crissman, St. Barnabas, Costa Mesa