The three-week Summer Youth Program completed its most successful year at Holy Trinity Monastery on July 15. Twenty high school students from 15 to 18 years of age, the largest group in the camp's history, gathered from across the United States and Canada to experience a unique schedule of daily liturgies, lectures, work alongside the monastics, nightly reflections, and recreational activities in beautiful, rural upstate New York.
The students lived in the Seminary's dorm and were integrated into the rhythm of monastery life. Beginning each day at 6:00 am with the Divine Liturgy and concluding with compline at 7:30 pm, the summer campers deepened their spiritual sensitivity by allowing God's presence to fill every moment of the day: church, education, work, and play. Frequent Confession and Communion was the norm, and the Very Reverend Archimandrite Luke, abbot of the Monastery and rector of the Seminary, offered private consultation to any interested camper, hosted a question and answer session with the group, and even took everyone out for Chinese food.
After daily Divine Liturgy, breakfast, and morning rest, the youth assembled for lectures in Seminary Hall on diverse topics of interest to Orthodox teens: the afterlife, Church and state relations, justifiable war in Orthodox moral tradition, technology, the occult in popular culture, and rock and roll. The speakers / group discussion leaders included V. Rev. Archpriest Alexander Webster, Dean of the Seminary & Professor Moral Theology; Rev. Ephraim Willmarth, Assistant Dean of the Seminary & Director of Admissions; Rev. Edward Henderson, Rector of St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church in Berkeley, California; Fr. Demetrio Romeo, Rector of St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon Mission in Coconut Creek, Florida; Protodeacon Victor Lochmatow, Associate Professor of Russian Literature at the Seminary; Dr. Anna Radovic, Visiting Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology at Salve Regina University; Edward Novis, Lecturer in Philosophy and English at the Seminary; and Rassophore monk Angelos Stanway at Holy Trinity Monastery.
Then, the teens went to work with monastics on their obediences, gaining a hands-on experience of life in the Monastery and establishing personal ties with the monks—a rare privilege for Orthodox teens. Tasks included working in the candle factory, helping in the garden, preparing incense, and tending the graveyard.
Finally, afternoons were dedicated to recreational activities. The boys hiked, swam, boated, fished, and played soccer, Ping-Pong and chess. With a BBQ every week, movie nights, a field trip to nearby Fort Stanwix, Fourth of July fireworks, and laser tag, the teens’ time in Jordanville was filled typical American teenage entertainment, as well as with serious contemplation.