Thursday, August 12, 2010

Team Mayak: Exposing Kids to the Word of God

This is the third year [a] team from Southeast has visited Camp Mayak. Over the three years we have reached almost 900 children and 300 staff at this camp. This year the children in camp were older than usual. I believe we distributed Bibles to 268 children and 60 adult staff in camp this year. Personally I had twenty-one 18 year old kids in my class (usually 16 is the upper age limit) and it amazed how interested they were in learning about the Bible and the lessons it teaches. They were involved daily in the Bible lessons, crafts and activities. They were not required to be there but chose to do so. We acted out many of the Bible stories and made practical applications to their lives. When school starts in September this group of children will be sent out on their own to find jobs and provide for themselves. Camp will probably be the only time they will be exposed to the Bible. Each child was provided an adult Bible and a Teen Bible with a study guide that they can take with them as they go out in the world. It is our prayer that they will continue to study and choose follow Christ. Although I may not be able to associate all their names and faces; I will always remember each child. They have touched a place in my heart for eternity.

--Jesse Anthony, Team Leader

Thursday, August 5, 2010

2010 Teams A Success!

Team Mayak
When I arrived home on the evening of July 31 I was completely exhausted and drained. However, even the exhaustion could not contain my excitement. My wife and children were subjected to a constant stream of stories and pictures from my July in Ukraine!

Most exciting were the stories of what I observed among all of our teams who were on the ground during July. From the hot and muggy extremes in Poltavah (Camp Mayak) to the unseasonably cool and wet of the Carpathian Mountains (Camp Smerichka)--and while I'd love to say the mild weather in Svyatogorsk (Camps Gaydar and Gagaryn), I have to be honest: it was hot there too!

Texas contingency of Team Imagine
First, let me commend the team with whom I worked for two weeks: Team Mayak. Jesse Anthony, Virginia Stubbs, and Valeriy Kachuk were incredible team leaders! Valeriy is an old pro as a team leader for our Ukrainian team members. It was obvious that he loves the camp program, his team, and the children. The team, filled with a wide diversity of personalities, functioned smoothly and well together. This is a group that truly exercised the love of Christ among each other and to the kids. Nearly 300 campers were touched and served by this amazing group.

Team Inspire
Teams Inspire and Imagine had special challenges and difficulties due to last minute changes. But when I arrived in Svyatogorsk I found two teams that were making a powerful impact for God: one in a camp of orphans and another in a camp of family kids. It was fun watching the directors of both camps get into a good-natured argument over which American team was the best ("My team is better than your team..."). 

These two camps who were new additions to our program begged for our teams to return next year. Over 700 kids and staff occupied these two camps. Our teams made an unforgettable impact upon them, too. The counselors were especially impressed at how our team members conducted themselves both during camp activities and during their "down" time.

Bible Distribution Day at Camp Gaydar
Gabe Fisher, Brian Durgin, and Katya Berynskay continued to offer great leadership to Team Inspire. Gabe and Brian are veteran leaders from LCU and it shows in the way they smoothly handled every challenge set before them. This was Katya's (Kate's) first year as Inspire's Ukrainian Team Leader--and she did a great job.  

Team Imagine was under the capable leadership of Terry Kile, Bill Allen, and Katya (Kat) Shkarlat. This, too, was a first time for Kat to serve as Ukrainian Team Leader. As Terry says, Kat was a "great political negotiator, great team leader, great translator, and watched over us well." 

Big Group at Camp Smerichka
Team Agape, who has been part of Camp Smerichka in the Ivano-Frankivsk region for years was going great guns when I arrived. I was amazed at how well they held the attention of the kids in their Big Group and Small group times! These kids were enthralled by the team and the team was giving it all they had! Geoff Casella, Terry Montgomery, and EEM's Inna Kuzmenko provided the capable leadership of the camp (veterans that they are).  Camp Director Mikolay was very pleased with both teams who worked in his camp (see the previous post on Team Lubhov) and is eager to see more teams come in the future.

I was especially proud of our translator teams this year! These young men and women give up quite a lot to be a part of our teams. Their hard work is to be commended. Even more, the work many of them do throughout the rest of the year in the good works they perform for others, in the churches where they attend, and in the efforts they are taking to grow spiritually. I wish I could tell you some of their stories, but space will not permit.

Alexander Pechenko & Darryl 

It was a treat to travel with the President of the Association of Youth Camp Directors, Alexander Pechenko. He met me at Camp Mayak where I presented him with a copy of our 2010 workbook. I was amazed at how well he was respected by the camp directors. He is spoken of fondly as "papa" by many of them. 

Alexander is the man who invited EEM to send teams to the Summer Camps in Ukraine. He has been a strong supporter of our program since its inception and has consistently praised the high quality and training of our Team Members. For those who are first time visitors to this blog, it is important to understand these are not "Christian Camps." They are private secular camps that originally were the old Pioneer Youth Camps of the Soviet era.

Darryl & his group of kids at Mayak
I hope each of our team leaders will post some of their team's experiences on the blog so you can catch some of the excitement from each camp. 

If you are a first time visitor of this blog and don't know much about the camps in Ukraine or the camp program, please check us out! See the links on the side bar or contact me at I'd love to talk with you about this powerful service for God to the children of Ukraine!