The Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Student Movement in the UK held its first ever camp at Cefn Lea Conference and holiday Park, Newtown, Wales from the 2nd to the 4th April 2013. The 3 day event was attended by over 60 youths and around 25 adult volunteers representing Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Churches from all over the UK.
The inauguration ceremony was conducted by His Grace Mathews Mor Aphrem, President and patriarchal Vicar of the UK, who had specially flown in for the event, Fr Jomon , Fr Raju cheruvillil(UK Council Secretary),Fr.Peter Kuriakose and Fr.Eldhose Vattaparambil(Camp Director).
The three day event included both indoor and outdoor activities such as an outdoor treasure hunt, tug of war, quizzes, competitions, cultural events and interactive seminars. The event was held in the picturesque and beautiful Lea Park surrounded by sprawling hills and valleys. The competition between the teams was fierce but fair and there was full participation from all the youth. There were also interactive events and seminars geared towards raising the awareness of family values. One youth said at the end “I attended the camp reluctantly, expecting it to be all meditation and prayer. However the experience was completely the opposite. It was exciting and great and very enjoyable. I don’t feel like going home now. I am looking forward to next year’s camp”. Another commented “I thoroughly enjoyed the programme and am really sad because I won’t be able to attend next year as I will be over the age limit”. A parent said his child had called him at night after the first day and said that it was “the most enjoyable event in his life”. The winning and runner up teams received trophies and medals. Everyone received a certificate of participation and the volunteers received certificates of appreciation for their commitment and dedication to the event.
The election for next year’s post holders was vehemently campaigned by the candidates and for the post of secretary, very closely fought. The elected post holders are: Secretary Koshy George (Bristol) Treasurer Merin Raju (London) Editor: Mathew Thomas (Newcastle) Programme Co-ordinator: Arun George (Liverpool).
Accommodation for the participants was spread out over several chalets with several supervisors in each chalet. There was also a medical doctor assigned to the event with first aid kits and medications . Food was all freshly prepared and served by a team of around 20 adult volunteers from the various churches lead by the Manchester Church. The menu consisted of both Indian and British cuisines.
The programme was planned and managed by Fr Eldhose Vattaparambil and moderated by Dr Raju George under the guidance and advice of His Grace Mathews Mor Aphrem. Fr Raju Cheruvillil, Fr Geevarghese Thandayathu, Fr Peter kuriakose, Dn. Anish K Joy and Dr Beena George were among the judges and supervisors along with support from the team of volunteers. The programme ended with a Holy Qurbana celebrated by His Grace Mathews Mor Aphrem