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This site in Ukrainian Sports Camp in Ellenville, N.Y
July 27 - August 9, 2008

Sports Camp 2008

"2008 Olympic Games Ellenville, NY"

While millions of people around the world spent parts of August watching the Olympic Games on their television sets, some lucky Sumivtsi experienced the Olympics for themselves this summer. From July 27th to August 9th, 67 yunaky and yunachky participated in their own Olympics while attending Sports Camp at Oselia SUM in Ellenville, NY. The camp theme was the Olympic Village and as a result, the entire campground was transformed into a replica of the famous village for the athletes. For two weeks these Sumivtsi not only trained and scrimmaged in six sports, but they also competed for medals in non-sport competitions. Each cabin represented a different country and competed against other cabins in many competitions, which awarded first, second and third place medals. The countries represented at this Olympic camp were the following: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, France, Great Britain, Ukraine, the United States of America, and Greece. Seven of the countries were represented because there are active SUM branches in those countries, while Greece was represented because the Olympics originated in that country.

On the second night, the camp officially kicked off the Olympic Games with an opening ceremony. Each countrys counselors (vporyadnyky) marched in the Parade of Nations dressed in attire representing their country. After the President of the International Olympic Committee (the Komendant) declared the games open, the Olympic torch entered the campground and eventually lit the Olympic cauldron, which remained lit until the closing ceremony. After the singing of the Ukrainian National Anthem and the symbolic release of a dove, the campers went to bed ready to begin the competitions the next morning. A competition was held every day in cabin cleanliness as well as in which country tried to speak the most Ukrainian. The competition in Ukrainian language was the most prestigious event at our Olympics for at every evening ceremony (vechirnyj apel), the top-three countries received their medals on the podium. After the winning country received its medal, its national anthem was played while its flag was unfurled. As the camp progressed, other daily competitions were added such as which country sang the most and which country marched the best. Other competitions that were held during these Olympics included which country had the wackiest hair-do on Crazy Hair Day, which country performed the best bonfire skit and which couple could waltz the best at the first zabava.

Of course, these Olympians did come to camp to play sports and, throughout the two weeks, the campers trained and scrimmaged every morning, afternoon and night in a variety of sports. Those that took swimming as their main sport found a great way to dodge the heat and humidity. The swimming program, lead by Christina Galonzka (Boston), spent the mornings working on different strokes and practicing dives. The tennis players, who were coached by Adrian Bobriwnyk (Hartford), practiced their serves, backhands, forehands and much more, hoping their practice will soon get them into Wimbledon. The softball coaches helped prepare the campers by working on their fielding, batting, catching and throwing skills. The program, which was headed by Roman Kozicky (Yonkers) and Juliana Horbachevsky (Yonkers), made everyone want to play softball and even prompted the continuance of the yearly Komanda vs. Vporyadnyky Softball Game. This year, Komanda defeated the Vporyadnyky 14-12 in an offensive, nine-inning affair.

This years most popular sport, track and field, helped the campers in areas such as shot-put, sprints, long jump and long-distance running, all of which will help the campers at the annual Zlet competition held on Memorial Day weekend. Coaches Terry Reid (Boston) and Mark Bobriwnyk (Hartford) had a great time training the children and even organized a one-mile run for its participants while the entire camp waited for the runners at the finish line. The sport of volleyball definitely contained the most aggressive athletes at this years camp. The participants were so good that they finished their original schedule in just three days, leaving popular coach Peter Kolinsky (Hartford) extremely impressed and having to add more advanced drills into his sessions. Finally, no Ukrainian sports camp is complete without a soccer program. Coaches Andrew Kudryk (Passaic) and Mykola Kucyna (Whippany) spent another year at camp teaching our potential soccer greats about passing, shooting and making wiser decisions in game situations.

During the second week, the campers had a blast hiking up the mountain and visiting Bare Rock, which overlooks Oselia SUM in the Catskills. The camp enjoyed a lecture on proper nutrition and dieting which was presented by guest speaker Khrystia Bihun (Goshen). The older campers also had a fine time saving our Olympic Games from the enemy Russians, who entered the Olympic Village and managed to capture most of the countrys flags; however, the great teamwork of our Sumivtsi helped the countries retrieve their flags in a fun, middle-of-the-night war-game.

Before anyone could believe it, the time had arrived for these fun-filled Olympic Games to come to an end. On the final night of camp, our Olympics were concluded with another official ceremony that began with the Parade of Nations and was followed by the distribution of the final medals of our Olympiad. After the President of the International Olympic Committee gave his final remarks, he announced the final medal count of our Olympics. In third place came the group from Greece, who had a strong and commanding first week and were able to hold on to take third place. Second place was awarded to Canada, a team who went from last to second place in the final five days. The winners of the Olympiad were those hailing from the United States of America. These Olympians consistently medaled in almost every category and it was no surprise that the Americans (who were comprised of the youngest boys) performed the best during the entire Olympiad.

After the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner, the games were officially closed and the Olympic cauldron was extinguished. It was difficult to overlook the mixed emotions on the faces of the Olympians a part of them was extremely proud of the hard work and team unity that they exhibited during the camp and the other part was a bit saddened that these fun games were now over; however, the campers enjoyed the mini firework show that closed the ceremony and danced the night away at the final zabava, spending their last night with their old and new camp friends. The next afternoon, the camp was officially ended and everyone said goodbye to another great two weeks at Oselia SUM.

Of course, this great camp could not have happened without the hard work of many people, primarily, our Komanda: Komendant Theodore Bodnar (New York); Vice Komendant Oksana Bodnar (New York); Bunchujzna Nadia Dlaboha (New York); Holovnyj Vykhovnyk Andrew Leskiw (Philadelphia); Secretary Julie Doboszczak (Hartford); Singing Teacher Bohdanna Wolansky (New York); and Medical Officer - Zoryana Kovbasniuk (Whippany). These individuals deserve much credit for enabling the camp to run as smoothly as it did. Nonetheless, a sports camp couldnt happen without the coaches who teach the sports. The coaches, once again, did a remarkable job helping the campers better their game. Lastly, a special thank-you goes out to all of the obozni and vporyadnyky who acted as the parents, older siblings and country leaders during these two weeks. The fun-filled Olympic Village Sports Camp of 2008 is one that will not be forgotten and the staff and children are already counting down the weeks until next years camp!

By: Andrew Leskiw

[ article | photo 1 | photo 2 ]

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