Andrij Kosowsky, Counselor
This summer I had the pleasure of serving on commanda at the CYM starshy tabir in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The camp took place between July 1-14 and included about 50 youth and 7 members of commanda. This year, as CYM commemorates the 10th Anniversary of Ukraine's independence and the 60th Anniversary of the proclamation of Ukrainian independence in June, 1941, we stressed the importance of these events by naming this year's camp "Shlyakh Peremohy" or "The Road to Victory" and made the children aware of the importance of the fight for freedom.
During camp the kids enjoyed swimming in the spacious pool, a variety of sports, singing Ukrainian folk songs, arts & crafts, and hutirky. The ladies in the kitchen kept us very well fed, including varenyky on Fridays! For the record, there was a challenge to Druh Yuriy's varenyky-eating record by one of the campers, however according to the chief judges (the cooks), Yuriy's record still stands at 56. And the gentlemen who maintain the facilities made sure that the campers were able to enjoy 2 weeks at the most beautiful "oselia" in North America.
Although we spent most of our time on the "oselia", we also organized field trips for a change of pace. The kids enjoyed 4th of July fireworks at Baraboo High School, cosmic bowling at Thunderbird Lanes in Portage, and canoeing on the scenic Wisconsin River. And once a week we enjoyed dancing the night away at a "vechirka" complete with music provided by our own DJ Meesh (Druh Michael Kowal).
At Baraboo, we camp the old fashioned way - in army tents that the campers set up and take down. Both boys and girls learn everything they need to know to maintain a campsite - how to chop wood, build a fire, and to dig small ditches around each tent to prevent flooding during a rainstorm. Every night both boys and girls took turns doing "stiyka" or guard duty by the campfire at their respective campsites. The boys even set a trap to catch any animals that might wander by - although the only "animals" to invade the boys camp were a small group of resourceful girls who had the boys convinced that they were surrounded by raccoons!
In addition, the campers built the weekly vatra (bonfire), at which they performed songs and skits for the amusement of all our guests. Somehow word got around that Druh Yuriy and I enjoy hamming it up in front of an audience, and during one of their skits (a parody of a Ukrainian TV show) the kids convinced me to stand up and sing the Oscar Mayer baloney song, while Yuriy performed a flawless Ukrainian rap song.
Although young people are normally boisterous and mischievous, when it was important they were very cooperative. In fact, I visited the local bowling alley with a few other sumivtsi after camp was over, and got to chatting with the manager. When I mentioned that I was with the Ukrainian American camp, he said that our sumivtsi were one of the best groups to visit his establishment. He said that they seemed to enjoy themselves, but were very respectful of the facilities and of the other bowlers around them. As a thank-you he then gave us a discount for the day and gave me a stack of coupons for free games of bowling!
Some of the kids went out of their way to tell me that they had a great time, and several parents told me that this appeared to be a very enjoyable tabir. For this, the commanda team deserves a round of applause. The commanda was as follows: Volodymyr Popowych (Commandant-1st week/head lumberjack/canoe rescue chief), Michael Kowal (Commandant-2nd week/disk jockey), Marko Krutiak (Bunchuzhnyj/lead guitarist), Stefania Kawka (Obozna/miracle worker), Yuriy Striltschuk (Obozny/drill sergeant/entertainer), Andrea Zelisko (Pysar/spirit booster), Danylo Terleckyj (Vykhovnyk/philosopher/creative force), and Andrij Kosowsky (Holovnyj vychovnyk/big brother).
After camp ended, it was difficult for me to return to work. I will always remember the great kids, our top-notch commanda team, and the good times we all shared. I think it's safe to say that both the campers and the vykhovnyky had a memorable experience.
If you've never been to Baraboo and would like a change of pace next year, I encourage you to join us for old-fashioned camping on a beautiful oselia, with great kids, excellent vykhovnyky, lots of fun activities and memories to last a lifetime!
Sonia Lawrecki, Camper
I have just finished starshy tabir and it was probably the best two weeks of my life! I was kind of skeptical at first because I didn't know anyone and because it was my first year. I was afraid that I would be a huge outcast. I was so wrong! On my first day at camp, another girl just started talking to me like she knew who I was. During the two weeks of tabir I made more friends, but I became especially close with four of them - Tanya, Marta, Natalia, and Christina. Now I have 4 new penpals!
At first, I had no idea what tabir was about or what we would be doing. It turns out that we slept in tents about halfway up a hill. Every night we built a fire and the girls took turns staying up doing guard duty. The boys' tents were higher up the hill, and we had to stay by the fire so that they wouldn't come down to our tents and raid us.
During tabir we also went on field trips. For example, on the 4th of July we went to Baraboo High School to watch the beautiful fireworks. Afterwards, we all had to return to camp, but on the way back our driver took us to Pizza Hut. It was so much fun!
We also went canoeing on the Wisconsin River. We canoed 15 miles, and we stopped at the halfway point to have a picnic on the beach.
Another field trip was bowling. It was so cool because the manager of the bowling alley turned on the black lights and turned the music way up! When our drivers came to pick us up, we thought the evening was over-but not yet! They surprised us by taking us all to Dairy Queen for ice cream. I'll never forget it.
There are a lot of cool things to do on camp. We went swimming every day, and once we even had a "regatta" where we made boats out of cardboard. It was interesting to see all the different boats. Some people's boats sank right away (like ours) but one girl's boat stayed afloat for almost half an hour! Although it didn't float very long, our boat won second place for "most creative".
My favorite part of camp is once a week when we make a big bonfire and the whole tabir is there (and parents and guests if they want to come). We sing songs, and every tent does a skit. Some of the skits are so funny!
For whoever is reading this, I hope you seriously think about coming to camp in Baraboo. Finally, I would like to thank my tent-mates for making this a very special and memorable time for me.
View the pictures from Baraboo.