Vidpochynkovyj Tabir 2005
CYM’s Orange Kozaks Invade Ellenville
For two weeks in August, young CYM members camped together at their mountain home away from home in Ellenville, New York, at this year’s summer Recreational Camp under the fitting name “Orange Sich”. This year’s adventure took its participants on a journey that spanned several hundred years. The 6 to 14 year old children traveled four hundred years into the past to witness the founding of Kozak Sich, then returned to the recent past to relive and participate in Ukraine’s Orange Revolution.
The program became an immersion experience, with all of the youngsters involved in a process that tied the historic past of Ukraine’s kozak heroes to the most current events in the land of their ancestors. All became increasingly aware that the spirit of the kozaks exists today not only in Ukraine, but even here, far from the geographic place once called Sich, embodied in the lives of everyone in their community. The summer air began to fill with songs that brought the past and present together, as children’s voices ran out with “Razom nas Bahato” (Together we are Many) and “Otaki my Kozaky” (Such Kozaks are We)!
From the very first day, camp began to transform itself physically into Zaporizhian Sich. Banners and bunchuks stood in front of campers’ quarters, while inside the adornments included the traditional symbol of authority among kozaks, the bulava, as well as swords and an assortment of hand made items crafted by the campers themselves. Authentic kozak councils were held to elect a leadership, including the posts of hetman, bunchuzhnyj, secretary, standard bearers and obozni. Councils were subsequently called according to democratic principles, when each kozak group established the need for such a gathering. The responsibilities of each member of the young kozak leadership were established and upheld with a strong sense of tradition, including the likes of recording the chronology of the member kozaks, protecting the community wealth, and safeguarding their cache of weapons (which consisted mainly of carefully constructed water balloons that were always kept handy in case of urgent need).
The first evening also bore witness to the planting of a single acorn from which, in the coming days, arose a sibling of the massive Zaporizhian Oak (this oak really existed on the island of Khortytsia, growing for over 400 years, until its recent death several years ago). The great Oak developed at an amazing pace, quickly grow to tower above its two-story neighboring structure where camp counselors lived, and continuously bore “leaves of good deeds” as well as “language acorns”, which were awarded to delighted campers on a daily basis by the camp’s mascot, a pesky little squirrel.
Throughout the two week adventure, campers learned much about the life of a kozak. They partook of fishing at a stream on the grounds, hiking in the forests to pick berries, learned to shoot an arrow from a bow, and crafted clay pottery cups that they baked in a home made outdoor kiln for 48 hours. A group of creative young ladies even authored an authentic kozak Duma which lamented life in camp, with the help of Bohdanna Woliansky, their music coach. Entertainment was never lacking, especially when Pavlo Danyliw, a friend of young sumivtsi for many decades, appeared with an entire “orchestra in a bag” and explained how kozaks preserved their tradition and history through Dumas and song.
The kozaks were blessed with many of life’s finest attributes – courage, self assurance, fraternal warmth, faith in God, democratic ideals, unity, honesty and creativity. Their spirit somehow swept along the steppes and landed amidst the Ellenville oselia campers, taking root here across the ocean from the land where it originated, just as it recently did on the Maidans throughout Ukraine. Their singular and mighty bond united us all to form a large family reminiscent of our ancestors, and each of us would carry that bond home to share it with our families and the ones we love.
CYM’s many thanks extend to those that made this summer experience possible for our youngsters, through their planning and dedication of time: Oksana Duda, Oksana Bodnar, Larysa Balko, Khrystia Bihun, Lesya Harhaj, Markian Shchur, Marianka Wasylyk, Bohdanna Wolianskyj,; junior counselors Andrij Leskiw, Chrystia Melnyk, Natalia Surmachevska, Chrystia Charuk, Petro Capar, Danylo Szpyhulskyj, and Lidia Jacewycz; and medical staff Debbie Szafran and Patrick Lautenszlager. Come camp with us again next summer!
Come visit us - it's a most beautiful time of the year!