July 23, 2016
Woodbourne, NY: Camp NORR celebrates 50 years in USA

The Association of Russian Explorers Outside of Russia (NORR) celebrated its 50th summer camp in the Catskill Mountains of New York State. From Friday the 15th to Sunday the 17th of July, many clergy, alumni, and camp friends visited NORR to celebrate this important milestone in the camp’s history.

Guests started arriving on Friday evening and pitching tents in the alumni fields. Per tradition, a campfire for all campers and visitors took place, with singing of traditional songs out of the camp’s songbook and skits performed by campers. Following the campfire, alumni and visitors continued to reconnect with each other and share memories around their campsites.

On Saturday morning, Program Director Nikolai Georgievich Ganson presented a lecture to visitors and alumni on the camp’s history, values, and mission, which center around the Orthodox Faith and Russian cultural traditions. Notable mentions included the organization’s founder Pavel Nikolaevich Bogdanovich, the Romanov family patrons of NORR – Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich and his wife, sister of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas, Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna; the first spiritual counselor of NORR, Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy; and the camp’s founder, Vasiliy Feodorovich Joukov, who for 45 years was head of NORR and the driving force behind the organization’s growth and success. N.G. Ganson underscored Peter the Great’s influence to camp’s vision – namely the upbringing of youth and the importance of hard work and service to others.

Later that morning, the younger campers squared off in the "Mini NORR Cup," resulting in a tie game between the boys and girls. That afternoon, after a delicious luncheon, campers and guests gathered once more on the soccer field, where the older campers faced off in the "NORR Cup", resulting in an exciting game complete with stadium-like color commentary, ultimately ending with a win for the boys.

Saturday’s dinner featured a pig roast, and the dining hall was filled to capacity as many more guests arrived in anticipation of the evening's events. The All-Night Vigil was served in the camp’s chapel, followed by the "Pereklichka" (roll call) ceremony at the flagpole, conducted once a year. The ceremony this year was particularly memorable because of the many alumni who participated in remembering deceased members of the organization. A looming dark and menacing storm kept at bay in the distance just long enough for the evening’s events to conclude.

At Sunday morning’s flag-raising ceremony, visiting dignitaries from SGPA presented a plaque to NORR congratulating the organization on its 50th year.

The Divine Liturgy, which this year fell on the feast of the Holy Royal Martyrs, was celebrated by Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, Vicar of the Eastern American Diocese. His Grace was co-served by:

-          Archpriest Serafim Gan (rector of St. Seraphim Memorial Church in Sea Cliff, NY)

-          Archpriest Constantine Semyanko (NORR spiritual counselor)

-          Archpriest Alexandre Antchoutine (rector of Holy Virgin Intercession Church in Glen Cove, NY)

-          Priest George Temidis (cleric of the Nativity of the Mother of God Church at the New Kursk Root Hermitage in Mahopac, NY)

-          Protodeacon Joseph Jarostchuk (cleric of St. John of Kronstadt Memorial Church in Utica, NY)

-          Protodeacon Paul Wolkow (cleric of St. Seraphim Memorial Church in Sea Cliff)

-          Protodeacon Dimitri Temidis (cleric of Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack, NY)

-          Protodeacon Serge Arlievsky (cleric of Holy Dormition Convent "Novo-Diveevo" in Nanuet, NY)

-          Protodeacon Eugene Kallaur (cleric of St. Seraphim Memorial Church in Sea Cliff)

-          Deacon Victor Ganson (cleric of Holy Epiphany Church in Boston, MA)

-          Deacon Alexey Pnev (cleric of the Nativity of the Mother of God Church in Mahopac, NY)

-          Deacon Andrew Podymow (cleric of Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack).

The choir consisted of campers, alumni, and visitors, and was conducted by Tamara M. Joukov. During the Sixth Hour, Bishop Nicholas tonsured camper Peter Antchoutine a reader. Nearly the entire camp communed of Christ’s Holy Mysteries. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Bishop Nicholas presented two gramotas to the organization, commending it on its continued important work with the youth – one on behalf of the Eastern American Diocese, and the other on behalf of the ROCOR Synod of Bishops. "Many Years" was later intoned for campers celebrating their namesday on the feast of the Holy Royal Martyrs.

Later that morning, everyone in uniform participated in the Ceremonial Parade. A group photograph was taken after the Parade, and the photographer’s ladder had to be moved back several times to accommodate all of the campers, clergy, staff, alumni, and other visitors in the picture frame. That afternoon, campers put on a performance of traditional songs and dances they had learned over the first two weeks of camp. Former choir members in the crowd were invited to join the singing of the camp’s favorite song "Yermak," accentuating the familial feel of the camp.

After the performance, everyone enjoyed some much-needed free time. As alumni and visitors departed, many expressed their desire to return to camp in future years thanks to the memories that were sparked by spending a weekend in camp once again. All in all, it was a very memorable 50th anniversary weekend.

Andrei Mouravieff