There is nothing like Summer Camp – a weeklong program, replete with activities, learning, friendships and faith, that creates memories to last a lifetime. In the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco, youth have the opportunity to participate in two different camp programs that offer unique ways to experience our faith and culture, and broaden the horizons of the campers through a variety of activities designed to create an inspirational experience.

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Caring for the goats at the Monastery

“Providing these opportunities for our youth is of paramount importance, for they create the foundation upon which campers participate in an immersive experience of faith and fellowship,” stated His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos. “Our Greek Village and the Metropolis Summer Camp each offer unique opportunities for youth to grow emotionally, be enriched through a variety of activities, and make lifelong connections to keep them involved in the Church.”

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Music at Greek Village

Now in its 10th year, Our Greek Village Camp offers an innovative one-week language and culture immersion program for youth ages 8 – 15 at Saint Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center in Squaw Valley, CA. Program highlights include daily worship, language instruction, Greek folk dance and music, art, sports, and theatre. A visit to the adjacent Monastery of the Theotokos the Life Giving Spring also provided an opportunity for the nearly 100 campers to learn about agriculture by tending to the Monastery gardens and taking care of the goats and chickens. The week concluded with a traditional Greek feast of roast lamb on the souvla, and an outdoor Glendi under the stars. Each year the theme focuses on a different region of Greece, with past themes including Peloponnesos, Crete, Macedonia, and the Dodecanese and Cyclades Islands. The theme for the 10th Anniversary of Our Greek Village was “Athens – Past to Present”.

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Covered Wagon on the Dunlap Trail

Saint Nicholas Ranch is also home to our Metropolis Summer Camp, which just celebrated its 38th year offering a stellar camping experience for youth ages 8 – 18. This year’s theme, “Rejoice”, was based on the scripture verse, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). In celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Saint Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center, campers enjoyed learning about the history of the original Sally K Ranch – dating back to the late 1800’s, traveled the “Dunlap Trail”, a pioneer-themed activity complete with covered wagon rides from the historic barn to the lake, mining for gold, and square dancing. Other camp activities included Orthodox Life, arts and crafts, sports, swimming, archery, and fishing. A combined total of over 300 campers participated in three one-week sessions.

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Archery at Summer Camp

Plans are already beginning to make 2020 another remarkable experience for our youth. Look for Our Greek Village to return for its 11th year in late June 2020, and the Metropolis Summer Camp to be held in July 2020, both at Saint Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center in Squaw Valley, CA. We look forward to creating more happy campers for many years to come!

Photo Credits
Greek Village: Mariam Hall
Summer Camp: Johanna Duterte