Garrison, NY - On August 9, 2003, the final group of campers of Ionian Village departed the village of Bartholomio, Greece, to conclude the 2003 camping season. For the past two months, participants of the Ionian Village program traveled throughout the countryside of Greece visiting religious, historical and archeological sites, as well as islands and noteworthy holy places. The campers departed for their homes in the United States with a renewed understanding of their faith and culture, as well as a better understanding of themselves as Orthodox Christians.
With the blessings of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, this year’s camp session was planned with much detail and care by Deacon Constantine Lazarakis, the Ionian Village Director and Associate Director of the Archdiocese Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. With over 30 staff members from throughout Archdiocese, the Ionian Village program continued its great tradition of offering faith and culture to our youth.
The first session, Summer Travel Camp (Grades 7th through 9th), completed their session on July 17 in Athens, and returned to the United States. The second session, Byzantine Venture (Grades 10th through 12th), concluded on August 9, with over 150 campers, staff and clergy participating. The participants from both sessions gave thanks to God for their many wonderful experiences in the Ionian Village program. Deacon Lazarakis commented with the words, “when you bring a group of young people together for an extended period of time at summer camp, and most especially at a program such as Ionian Village, you truly feel the Holy Spirit alive and dwelling among them.”
Participants were able to understand the wonders of Ionian Village in Bartholomio, Greece, experience the newly renovated Archdiocesan camp-site, and participate fully in the Orthodox faith and Hellenic culture by visiting the relics of wonder-working Saints Nektarios, Dionysios, Andrew, Alexios, the Righteous Loukas, as well as the various historic and archaeological sites of Delphi, Ancient Olympia, Sounion, and many more.
Upon their return, comments such as “this was the greatest experience of my life” and “I thank God for this experience, I can’t wait to share it with my friends”, echoed through the Olympic Airline Terminal at JFK. Together, almost 200 young people experienced Ionian Village this summer and it has proven to be one of the greatest experiences in each of their lives.
For pictures of this summer’s program, as well as detailed information on the program, visit us at the new web site at http://www.ionianvillage.org . Deacon Lazarakis and his staff are already planning for Ionian Village 2004, continuing to make improvements to the camp-site and program. Materials will be available this Fall.
Office of Ionian Village