Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I am a Village camper, that's what I'll always be...

A few days ago, AV Camp Directors, Fr. Anthony Yazge (current) and Fr. Michael Nasser (former) visited St. George Houston, TX during the OCF Executive Board meetings.  I was able to reconnect with them and discuss the ever popular topic of the Antiochian Village.

The good ol' days at the Antiochian Village; a place dubbed names, such as:  "Home Away From Home" and "Heaven on Earth." The time I spent at the Antiochian Village is without doubt the most influencial in my life.  I know its such a cliche, but I can honestly say that I'm the person I am today because of my experience at the Antiochian Village.

St. Michael, Louisville, KY group (1995) -
I'm the youngin in the bottom right with
the backwards baseball cap

Cabin 48 (2000) - 1st row, 2nd from the left

Old friend from St. George Houston,
Bianca Bucaram (1996)

I have many people to thank for making my summer camping experience so amazing, but to name only a few:  my parents (Gill and Leslie Fuller), my siblings (Aaron and Adriane Fuller), my parish priest from St. Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church (Very Rev. Fr. Alexander Atty), my first camp counselor (Khalil Samara), my "boss" as counselor, Head Counselor, and Program Director (Dn. Nicholas Belcher), Camp Director and boss (Very Rev. Fr. Michael Nasser), Camp Nurse (Mrs. Pat Gombita) - I was a camper/counselor who found himself ill a great deal.
These people along with the many friends, campers, counselors, program staff members have contributed to my life in ways known and unknown.

Cabin prank (1996) - middle with backwards baseball cap

Eldest Girls' Cabin w/ Male Staff (2002) -
bottom left corner

The best siblings (1999)

Staff Sibling Photo-op (2003) - PA & KY connection
with 3 of us now living in the Houston area

Due to my experience at the Antiochian Village, I've been able to take the lessons learned and share them through my job as Youth & Young Adult Director with the ministry I humbly provide to the children, teens, college students, and young adults at St. George and the Greater Houston area.

At the AV, together we worship, create relationships, have fun, and strengthen our desire to be a "follower of Christ." 

There are many people who have related their experiences of spending a few weeks in the summertime at such a remarkable place.  Years later, I had the blessed experience of taking a few teens from St. George Houston to Western Pennsylvania during the cold winter at the AV Winter Camp.  It was an amazing feeling to be back "home!"  Seeing the campgrounds (thank God, upgraded to awesome facilities), visiting with former fellow campers and counselors, praying at the numerous shrines, and most closely to my heart - hearing the youth singing beloved "camp hymns" during Liturgical services.

St. George Houston boys - AV Winter Camp 2010

Tomb of St Raphael (patron saint of Camp St Raphael)

Former AV Counselors - Paul Fuller, Charles Abdelahad,
and John Abud
I'm not sure when I'll be able to visit the Antiochian Village again, but I take great solace in the infamous camp lesson of "taking camp home with you."  I, for one, have a home in my heart for the Antiochian Village and how it has shaped me.  For that, I am eternally grateful and blessed!

Below is a YouTube video that offers a short glimpse of the beauty of Orthodox youth worshipping the One True God; enjoy:

AV Camp Vespers 1994 served by Very Rev. Fr. John Namie (1st camp director), the loving force behind the development and guidance of the Village program, which is the foundation of the program still used today.

I would love to hear your camp stories; feel free to share!

- A Day in the Life of the Youth Director

No comments: