On Friday, August 6, 2021, the Great Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, His Eminence Archbishop Michael led a Service of Prayer and the Breaking of Ground for a new Camp Kitchen, Dining and Activities Center, at St. Andrew’s Camp, on the shore of Lake Oneida, in Jewell, New York. Saint Andrew’s is the Diocesan Camp where our young people have gathered every summer for nearly seven decades for fellowship, fun, and spiritual formation.
Celebrating the service and breaking ground along with Archbishop Michael were Diocesan clergy Father Matthew Markewich, Vice President of the Camp Board of Trustees; Fr. Martin Kraus, Teen Week Camp Chaplain; Fr. Ambrose Inlow, Horse Week Camp Chaplain; Fr. Peter Baktis, husband of Camp Board of Trustees Treasurer Mat. Jeanne Baktis; Fr. Ignatius Gauvain, Director of Student Life at St. Tikhon’s Seminary and a Camp parent-volunteer; Sub-deacon Matthew Ortiz; and Camp lay leaders Ms. Daria York, the Camp's Executive Director; Board of Trustees Members Matushka Jeanne Baktis, Henry Dotterer, and their families; Jerome Tarris, Camp Grounds Manager; along with Camp Directors Matushka Tamara Cowan and Kristy Zaitseva, staff, camp counselors, friends and neighbors of the St. Andrew’s Camp community, and the Teen Week campers themselves.
At the Groundbreaking Ceremony, His Eminence offered this inspiring message to the Teen Week campers, the Camp clergy, Trustees, staff, and volunteers:
This building has been a dream for a long time…a building fund project that was established three years ago and hampered severely by the Covid pandemic. Still, thanks be to God, the dream has come true, the prayers have been answered, and the work is beginning. And hopefully next year when you all come, there will be a brand new facility here. It will be state of the art, and it will be a great blessing to the workers, to the staff, the counselors, the counselors in training, and the campers.
I thank the Administration, beginning with Daria York for her unrelenting and unlimited vision for this building, and all the people that supported her; the Board of Trustees for their leadership; the clergy of the Diocese who bought into this dream; the benefactors who gave so generously to make it happen; and to all the staff, counselors, and counselors in training who continued to work in that old building – seven decades old – to continue the holy work of this Camp, in spite of the difficulties and the obstacles they have faced.
I selected this day and this week for this celebration because the Teen Week campers are here. They are the future – the future of the Church, of our Diocese, of this Camp. So today, you are participating in it with a vision of the future, when you’ll take over all the roles of the people whom I just thanked. And you’ll lead the next generation of improvements to this camp, and you’ll further the assurance that this Camp will be here until Saint Andrew comes with Christ, at His Second Coming, to reclaim us all.
Thank you all for your generosity, your hard work, your unwavering faith, your prayers, your love for this camp. There are many people across the country who couldn’t be here today – so you represent them all. And you campers and teens – you represent all the campers who have come this year, and the years before, and all the campers who have ever been here, as we celebrate this “groundbreaking”!
And I pray that this very spirit which has made this dream possible, the faith that has never let it die, and the love that generates it all, will continue in you for many, many years to come.
To learn more about Saint Andrew’s Camp or to support its ministry, please visit www.saintandrewscamp.org .