Here are my memories from attending the first HGSCS retreat in Camp Nakamun from 9 to 11-Aug-2019.
Before our departure to Camp Nakamun we had prayed with Abouna Rewis in the main church. On our bus ride to Camp Nakamun we had sang hymns most of the trip and had chatted. We got an explanation from Mina Nagib the last 25 mins of the trip about the goal of the camp and the expectations of the campers.
As soon as we arrived, we took our bags out of the bus. We gathered outside of the main lobby for Mina Nagib to tell us our room number with our roommates. We went to the main hall to know our teammates and each one of us was handed a t-shirt, Agpeya, and a booklet, which included the program and the hymns we were going to learn.
Abouna Rewis gave us Topic 1: This is just an intro to our convention. Our convention will concentrate on why we are Christians. There are many people in your schools that are different denominations protestant, etc.). Why is Christianity an important path to go through? What does it mean holy fast? How do I abide by being Christian/orthodox?
Hold fast means abide in Christ, live the way Christ wants us to live. Orthodox- I am orthodox/ ORTHO means straightforward DOX/DOXY means glorification/ a straightforward way to glorify God. Orthodoxy- the path that we take to being orthodox “Abide in what you believe in”.
After this we had supper and servants were reading the stories of the saints from the paradise of monks. A story from St John the Short “The only key to reach the lord. Always as a question “am I doing this for me or for Christ?” So St John and some brothers and one of them was guide and the guide lost his way as it was night. So St John said he felt sick so the guide doesn’t get embarrassed and the other people get mad. All the brothers stayed with him till morning and the next day the guide found his was.”
Then we started midnight praises and went to sleep for preparation for liturgy.
We woke up at 6:30 for Liturgy.
As we went on in the liturgy Abouna took time to explain parts in liturgy.
The Synaxarium was about Hezekiah that was sick and almost close to death but on the last day God sent him Elisha who told him God extended your life another 15 years.
After breakfast Abouna Rewis gave us the second topic:
Topic 2 title: Patrology &Tradition
Patrology- study of the science which deals with church fathers ( C.F- old father after Christianity that explained what’s inside the bible)
Patristic- Any matter relates to the church fathers
The fathers are the descendants of the disciples
Never in the New Testament did Jesus teach us to make the sign of the cross
The fathers taught us that we do the sigh of the cross.
Who are the church fathers?
We had one holy catholic (universal) and apostolic church before the 5th century
The five very famous fathers are (approved by all denominations):
St. Athanasius the apostolic
St Basil the great
St. Cyril of Alexandria
St. John Chrysostom
Why Study Patrology? They told us how they dealt with people and conveyed Christ’s life style to others
All the writings of the fathers and teachings taught us when too fast and how to live our life
Theology: Study of God
How do we know that the writings of the bible are correct?
-We know they are right because they are orthodoxy dogma
-Holiness of Life: Christ created me holy so I should keep my Holiness
-Anonymous acceptance from church.
-Compare the writing of the first four centuries
At lunch, Abouna Youhanna came and we celebrated his 4th year ordination anniversary. As well as, birthdays’ of Marina Shenouda.
After this we played human foosball and low ropes (an obstacle course). We then prepared a skit for each saint that represents each team. Uncle Tadros gave us a paper that includes a short biography, quotes, virtues and stories and the requirements to create a skit. We then took a boat and learned hymns with Abouna Youhanna on the boat. Afterwards, we went to the hall for our third topic with Abouna Rewis.
Topic 3: The holy tradition: All the teachings saying and writings which have been handed over to Christians by the apostles other than what is written in the Bible. It is all the ecclesiastical heritage received from the forefathers from generation to generation.
Tradition: All the teaching and reading from the fathers
tradition: where you are from (Egyptian, Canadian, etc.)
Barzosis: Baraà From hand to hand
Keeping Tradition does not mean restricted and closed mind. Tradition and Bible go hand in hand. They are the same in goal but not identical.
Ex: Christ himself did not write any books to the disciples but rather taught them the lifestyle so that they can write books.
Tradition is the true practical life style of Christ which has been conveyed to us from our holy forefathers.
Apostolic tradition: The apostles and disciples of Christ … Didascalia (Greek) Didasclia: Writing down everything you learn (1st person basis) right from Christ.
Didache: Using what is written down (the didascalia) to teach others
Ecclesiastical tradition: the writes that we practice in the church.
After the hymns and topic we had the treasure hunt. We were handed a map of the camp and the first key that led to the following one. I personally loved this game because it was with verses from the Bible and questions about the rites/hymns of the church.
After the treasure hunt we had some free time then took supper, prayed the compline prayer then we went to the campfire. At the fire, we had snores and every team (including the servants) presented a skit. It was lots of fun.
We woke up and prayer prime prayer and doxology, then we had breakfast. After this we had a quiet with Uncle Tadros and it was very informative. I believe that the kids were pleased with what Uncle Tadros offered in this time. I heard many volunteers and kids loved this quiet time and they had kept the pamphlet that we had received during this time.
Then we had sports challenges like: volleyball, soccer, team building projects and many more.
Finally we evaluated the retreat with the servants then took the bus back to Church.