“Flaming Country” - Ukrainian Maltese summer camp
From June 28 to July 5, 160 Maltesers and their friends from all around Ukraine took part in the annual all-Ukrainian Maltese camp, which this year was called “Flaming Country”. The camp had a new motto: “Carry in your heart the fire that will never go out!”
«Flaming Country»… A thousand and one association comes up when we say this phrase. Many of us will right away think of a country on fire, all engulfed in the fire of war, pain, fears and suffering… Some will remember warm nights by the bonfire in the mountains, and others will imagine a bright and colorful country, full of profound emotions and fervent hopes for the better, as the fire brings all the bad to ashes, clearing the room for something new, something bright and better. One could go on improvising on the phrase, but somehow we’re sure the 160 participants of the 16th Maltese Camp will at the first go think of the unforgettable week in Dora and the emotions the camp had aroused.
This year the camp had a symbolic motto – “Carry in your heart the fire that will never go out!” With these words the organizers meant all the sincere feelings that don’t fade away over the years. These words contain the fervent hope for the better and the faith in victory; the rich Ukrainian traditions, family and Christian values, genuine love and devotion to the Motherland and parents; the all-conquering love and loyalty towards friends…
During the week in the camp, the young Maltesers were building their own “flaming” country, full of positive emotions, sincere smiles, faithful friends and passionate feelings. The organizers wanted to light and deliver the fire of hope and enthusiasm for the changes for the better! For this, every day of the camp was different, with various tasks and interesting games. The best thing to learn from was the fact that the age of the participants of the camp varied from 3 to… 50 ?. We all were learning from each other when doing various tasks, as we had to adjust for the competitions, but everyone managed great.
This year for the first time ever we carried out a quest with maps. It was very interesting to watch the teams scamper away to find their treasures, and those “thirsty” for the victory search for hints.
Then followed the field kitchen training. Simpler practical tasks were set for the younger participants, and the older willing ones underwent young rescuer training. In the evening Dora was roaring from the Maltese dancing and the hot-tempered DJ Vatsyk and MC Chepil. Everyone was dancing, as it was impossible to just stand by.
All were really impressed by sport competitions, so on Wednesday nobody could even think that the dramatization of Ukrainian wedding would turn out to be that cool. Yes, right, we had a real bride and groom, their parents, bridesmaids and groomsmen, master of ceremonies, matchmakers, even the representatives of the Maltese civil registry. With jokes and laughter, we all had a chance to see the wonderful traditions Ukrainians have at weddings.
The following day we went on a trip to the “Bilyi Kamin’” (“The White Stone”). On Friday we had a workshop fair, where we learned to make chop boards, twine straw hearts, felt wool, and we even tried to learn to distinguish Carpathian herbs and make tasty and healthy herb tea.
There was another workshop going on from the beginning till the very end of the camp. We’re not sure if it’s quite right to call it a workshop, though. We put our souls, prayers, hopes and feeling into it. Over the camp week, the Maltesers made a camouflage net for our guys in the ATO zone. We’re sincerely assured that all the love so many participants put into it will have a life-saving power.
After lunch, we traditionally started the “day of spirituality”. Special thanks to Father for the daily divine services and his constant presence, and the efforts to be with the participants as long as possible. We guess, the evening Stations of the Cross prepared by the participants and the performance afterwards has touched everyone deeply.
Friday night was quiet, full of night reflections and religious songs. After such a great spiritual preparation, we had an initiation into the Maltese community. Two more Maltesers swore to God to always remain loyal to the motto of the Order of Malta, invariable for nine centuries – «Defence of the Faith and Assistance to the Poor». As usual, it was most touching and emotional. Later on, to let ourselves relax after the strong emotions and sizzling heat, we had “a cold bath”, that brought everyone “a whooooole load” of cool feelings.
In the last evening, we were competing in the knowledge of Ukrainian traditions – singing songs, guessing famous Ukrainian people and presenting folk idioms. The evening ended with a disco and an impressive “royal night”. We started and finished the camp with a ceremonial camp line with raising and then putting down the flag to the accompaniment of the anthem of Ukraine and the Ivano-Frankivsk Maltesers.
Alright, we’ve briefly covered the program, but there are so many things we’re unable to put down in words. It’s hard to describe those most sincere smiles and emotions, ardour and curiosity, longing and joy of victory, goose bumps during the Stations of the Cross and the children singing songs by Kuzma… We can’t just render those tender emotions of liking that we’re sure have aroused in many of us. How can we show you the reflection of the bonfire at night, logs cracking, and melodic singing?... It’s so hard to describe the delicious smells from the kitchen and tasty breakfasts, lunches and dinners. The “Coco Jumbo” hippo song will now evoke in many of us the irresistible urge to hug.
It was just a really short story about what we were doing and feeling during the camp. But to fully evaluate the “flame” of love, all you do need is just to be here. Join us and we will lead you to the “Flaming Country!”
Many thanks to all of you who took part in creating the “Flaming Country”. May you carry in your heart the fire that will never go out…
“Flaming Country” - “Carry in your heart the fire that will never go out!”