Camper to Counselor: Stephanie Onyeiwu

Diocesan Summer Camp is now in full swing for 2017! We’ve already heard from counselor Henry Palattella about his experience moving from being a camper to a counselor, and this week we’d like to introduce new counselor Stephanie Onyeiwu:

“My name is Stephanie Onyeiwu and I attended Camp Nazareth as a camper since I was in 6th grade. I heard about it from Christ Church, in my hometown of Meadville. I graduated last year, and I am now entering my second year in college. I love children, I enjoy spreading the word of God on mission trips, and doing volunteer work. I am most looking forward to helping these kids grow into the best version of themselves. Apart from volunteer work, I enjoy singing, playing the piano, and attending camp – of course! I am eager to see all the new faces I will meet this year, and can’t wait to see what the week will bring! This year will be my first year on staff, and I am interested to compare the week to my prior experience as a camper. I am not really nervous about anything, but mostly excited and blessed to have another camp experience!”

We’ll follow up with Stephanie after camp week to see what she has learned, and how being a counselor allows her to experience God and share His message with others in a new way. Please keep all the campers and counselors in your prayers this week, and watch the diocesan Facebook page for camp updates!

From Camper to Counselor

I served as a camp counselor at Camp Nazareth this past summer, and it was an experience like no other. Now, I am not a newbie to Camp Nazareth, as I had attended it the past 11 years as a camper, making countless memories. But this summer was a whole new experience.

The first new experience that I gathered during the week was the method of getting there. Ever since I was in middle school I was always envious of the older kids who could drive themselves to camp, which led to me telling myself that that would one day be me. Well, the day of camp I packed my sister (who is now a freshman in college) and myself into the 2006 Dodge Vibe I had over the summer, and away we went. The changes in my duties were evident as soon as I got there. When I was a camper I could afford to be aloof for most of the week, focusing only the task at hand. That isn’t the case for counselors, however, as not only did we have to focus on planning on the tasks, but we also were in change of keeping track of our campers, which for me meant a group of energetic 2nd-5th graders.

The change was evident from the start, as I had to wake up early to wake up the campers (which was very tough, I enjoy my sleep). I was also introduced to the task of planning events very quickly, as I spent most of the morning on the first day helping Melinda (the kids’ camp leader) plan the day. During the afternoon on the first day was when I truly felt like a counselor, however, as I got to sit back and enjoy the madness of the all-camp activity as an observer, which I didn’t mind at all.

The week overall was one that was filled with new experiences along with new twists on old ones. It was really cool to see an event that I helped plan not only go off without a hitch, but also to see people enjoy doing it. This doesn’t mean that I was an observer in everything, however, as I was still able to participate in the annual Frisbee game (which my team won) and I also helped lead the Counselors to a win in the camper vs. counselor volleyball game, something that I’m very proud of.

Probably one of the toughest transitions that I had to make was the actual transition from camper to counselor. Going straight from camper to counselor meant that a lot of my close friends were still campers, so sometimes it was tempting to go hang out with them, since I had been doing so for most of my time at camp. But luckily, I was busy enough to not have that be a focus.

I hadn’t had any real big contact with kids’ camp in close to 10 years, so everything that I did as a counselor was still relatively new to me. While some of the stuff that we did in teen camp was some variations of what kids’ camp did, it wasn’t the same, so I had some new experiences just like the campers.

Overall, being a counselor was a great experience, and one that I’m honored to do again this year. It not only taught me a lot about camp, but also a lot about myself.

Henry Palattella is a sophomore at Kent State University and a member of the Cathedral of St. Paul. 

This year’s Diocesan Summer Camp runs from June 11-17. You can learn more about camp and register for this year by visiting the new camp website, http://www.dionwpacamp.org.

Walk In The Wilderness

DIOCESAN SUMMER CAMP 2016

Summer camp this year is June 12th thru June 18th.  The theme is “Walk In The Wilderness.”  Come and be challenged on the ropes course, learn a little Tae Kwon Do, do some acting, worship together, explore nature, play sports, splash in the pool, make art and much much more.

Camp is held at Camp Nazareth in Mercer, PA.  It is surrounded by forest with well-marked hiking trails.  Camp amenities include: a pool, basketball court, a chapel, and fields.  Campers sleep on bunks in cabins divided up by age and gender.  Each cabin is staffed with two counselors.  Camp is divided into Kids, Middle and Teen camp. Each have a full staff of counselors drawn from across the Diocese, with a camper staff ratio of about 6:1.

Camp costs $330. However the first 100 registrations postmarked by June 1st will receive a $60 scholarship reducing the fee to $270.

So come and have a great time making new friends, seeing old friends, interacting with caring counselors, enjoying dynamic worship and of course having a lot of fun!

Click here and scroll down to the camp section to get more information and find the application on the Diocesan Website.

Summer Camp Wants You!

usa-49909_640Do you have gifts for working with children and/or youth? Are you interested in being a part of their Summer Camp experience? We want to hear from you! The breakup of grades for each camp program is 2nd-5th, 6th-8th, and 9th-12th. There are two ways that you can get involved:

Summer Camp Counselor: We are looking for individuals that have gifts for working with children and youth and can commit to being present for the full week. Responsibilities will be to oversee a group of campers in a cabin, build relationships with children and other adults, and lead specific activities as assigned by program directors. All camp staff must have the required PA clearance and Safeguarding God’s Children and People training.

Workshop Leader: We are looking for individuals with expertise in fun and engaging skills or hobbies that would be of interest to children and/or youth to come and join us for at least one afternoon during the week to offer a workshop for campers. Examples: woodworking, sculpting, photography, a sport, etc.

If you are interested in either of these areas, please submit your name, email, phone number, and workshop idea to Fr. Denny Blauser at frdenny@earthlink.net.

“Youth Group and Christian Outreach” by Nina Palattella

Welcome to a new series where we will hear from Nina Palattella about her experience as a Christian in her senior year of High School.  Nina will write a blog post about once a month over the course of the school year. This is her second installment.  Click here to see the first one.

Hello again and thank you for joining me for my second blog post! I hope you have all had a swell month. My time has been occupied by the beginnings of college applications and lots of essays as my senior year of high school has progressed in full force. In addition to the new school year, the arrival of the fall season also brings a new year for my youth group, which led me to the idea to make this post about Christian outreach. I would suggest that any teens and youth in the audience especially stick around for this one—make yourself comfortable and stay a while!

11954753_482870405213312_9168523237462758084_nWhen I was younger, I participated in youth programs that were specific to my church, such as Sunday school and Rite 13, our small teen fellowship group; last year, program leaders from three churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania in my area, including my own, banded together with the idea to combine the youth groups from the three churches into one “Episcopal community for youth” known as The Vine; the group takes its name from a verse in the Gospel—“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 5:15). Anyone from those churches (and any friends who are invited and always welcome to join) in middle school through twelfth grade can participate in the group’s biweekly meetings that may include mission trips, fun outings or overnight gatherings.

While the three congregations mentioned above constitute the roots of the group (pun somewhat intended), other churches in the diocese have helped the group and our mission, whether by spending time with our group, hosting us in their parishes, or simply by expressing their support, and with their help the impact that our work 11081471_421588111341542_4785778058643413919_ncan have reaches far beyond the limits of our central congregations. This past March, the Vine took a “mini-mission” trip to Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Brookville, PA. I had never visited the small parish before, and I was stunned by the beauty of the church building; the wood in the church’s interior needed some restoration, and after the volunteers from Erie exchanged greetings with the members of Holy Trinity who would be joining us for the morning, we began our task, armed with buckets of polish and rags with which to do our work. It was nice to have a job that gave some degree of instant gratification—after a few minutes of polishing, the walls, pews and altars had a shiny, richer color; they felt smoother and better equipped to endure decades of more worship. Once we had completed our labor, we were given a tour of the surrounding small town, and took part in a variety of activities, including a short late-night worship service and a movie. The next morning, the approximately twenty members of The Vine joined the regular Sunday congregation at Brookville for a spirited worship service led by Rev. Melinda Hall, a great preacher and friend whom I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know for the past few years at summer camp.

11406955_850522778357978_5965102601537077651_nSpeaking of summer camp, this is a great time to mention that, while youth groups are likely the most common way that young people can get involved in their church and its ministry, they are by no means the only way. Each summer, I attend an overnight camp for Episcopal youth who have completed grades two through twelve, the majority of whom are from the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Throughout the week, campers participate in many religious activities, such as daily Eucharist, program sessions based on that day’s Gospel lesson, and a Taizé service; in addition, the camp offers a variety of activities that are just plain fun, like hiking, crafts, 4 Square, and night swims (which is just about the coolest thing you could possibly imagine when you’re ten years old). It’s an excellent place where kids can get to know their religion, teens can explore how their personal faith is important to them, and everyone gets to build a community with each other that will remain after the week has ended.

Though not every church may possess these opportunities exactly, each church has something to offer in terms of outreach, whether that means volunteering at community dinners or food pantries, handing out bulletins before the service, or simply getting to know some of the people whom you see every Sunday—but it doesn’t have to stop there or be just that. I’ve learned from the experiences described above and others that some of the best Christian outreach happens outside of the typical places like churches or even youth groups. It can be as simple as helping someone through a difficulty in their life or spending time with the people whom you care about. There are an infinite number of ways to be kind, and as Christians (and as people) that is what we are most called to do.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post; please leave any questions or comments below!

Nina Palattella,

Follow Summer Camp with the Diocese

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Summer camp is a joyful time for our kids because they get to be who they really are.  They have the opportunity to experience their faith in ways that they are most comfortable.  It is also a great time of fun and excitement with activities like the Wacky Olympics and bouncy houses!

Don’t worry if you won’t be there.  You too can experience the excitement of summer camp by following it through the Diocese.  There will be daily posts from the youth and plenty of pictures.  Follow us on Twitter at @DioNWPA (click here).  Like our Facebook page (click here) and the Formation Advisory Board’s Facebook page (click here). Read posts and sign up for email notifications on our blog at dionwpanews.org (click here).

Summer Camp 2015

summer campCamp applications are now available on the diocesan website (Click here for applications, a camp brochure and other forms). Summer Camp is June 14-20 and this year, Camp Nazareth is adding a high and low ropes course.  The Diocese is partnering with them in this project by financing the low ropes course.  Please join us at 7:00 PM on Sunday, June 14 (prior to registration), for a brief liturgy to bless the ropes course.

Every summer for over thirty years, young people in grades 2-12 gather at Camp Nazareth, an Orthodox camp, near Mercer, PA, for a week of summer camp.  The camp is staffed each year by a group of approximately 25 adults from around the diocese who are committed to providing the best camp experience possible.  An average of 130 young people participate in activities that include worship, small group discussions, team building, swimming, softball, and a wide variety of other activities.  This summer camp program is one of the most positive experiences offered in our diocese.  It is its own tradition here and has impacted the lives of many of our young people over the years.  More and more we see those who were once campers returning to be counselors.  Diocesan Summer Camp truly encompasses the best of who we are as a diocese: a community knit together by our faith and our shared experience that is Northwestern Pennsylvania.

Diocesan Picnic

DSCN1197The Diocesan Picnic will be held on Sunday, June 21st at Waldameer.  Come and join in on some great fellowship.  Registration  starts at 10:00 a.m. and the Service begins at 11:00 a.m.  There will be a delicious buffet that lasts for four hours from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Tickets are $20 per person (with a total cost of no more than $80 per family).  Tickets are available from your local church.  Waldameer is donating the tickets and food so all proceeds from tickets sales will be placed in a fund for scholarships to youth events such as Summer Camp (at Camp Nazareth) and for local church youth programs. All tickets must be purchased no later than June 8th.DSCN1032

The picnic will take place at Picnic Grove Headquarters, Southern #1 Shelter rain or shine (for a map of picnic shelters click here).  The Waldameer rides rune from 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Water World is open from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (swimwear required). There will be plenty of fun for everyone!