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*KECY #1: Žilina ECAV

Well the first term of KECY is over, and it was a definite success.

Last week’s KECY was hosted by the youth group of one of the Lutheran churches in Žilina (Žilina ECAV).  This was the group’s first time hosting KECY, and they did a really fantastic job.  The students who came were sweet kids; engaged, happy to be there, and interested in discussing their opinions of God and Christianity.

Highlights of the week for me were participating on the Orange team (Power Oranges!), the All Day Activity, Learning a traditional Slovak folk dance for “Slovak Night”, “American Night” on the 4th of July, and the Labyrinth on the last night.

  • Power Oranges: Originally I wasn’t part of any group (since I was helping coordinate all of the English classes and had some other responsibilities this year).  Halfway through camp one of the Americans (Jon) got sick, so I taught his class one day.  Luckily he wasn’t sick for too long and he was able to rejoin his team, but I stayed with them for the rest of camp.
  • The All Day Activity:  Every year the Slovak team plans a special activity for the third full day of camp.  The activity is a break between English class days and is usually something like a long hike or scavenger hunt-style game.  The All Day Activity at this camp was one of the most creative I’ve ever experienced, and it was a lot of fun.  The team planned a “Cowboys and Indians” theme, and had everyone dress up like Native Americans or pioneers.  The activity involved a series of interesting tasks (including building a house!) and was a lot of fun for everyone.

  • “Slovak Night”: After the evening program each night there is a time called “e-nights” that create a fun atmosphere for hanging out or for conversation.  One night was Slovak themed (which meant we got to roast špekačky!), and one of the girls on the theme asked if an American guy and I could help demonstrate a traditional Slovak dance.  This meant of course that we had to learn it first!  I don’t think Stanka had any idea how difficult it could be to teach a “simple” dance to us, but we were not quick learners, to say the least!  In the end, I think we learned it well enough for people to A) recognize what we were trying to do, and B) get a good laugh.  It was a lot of fun though.

  • “American Night”: The night after Slovak Night we had American Night to celebrate the 4th of July.  Even though we weren’t in the US to celebrate, this was probably one of my favorite 4th of July celebrations.  The Slovaks made a big circle outside after the evening program and asked the Americans to stand in the center.  Then all of a sudden fireworks were shot off and everyone had sparklers.  The fireworks were pretty great, and then we had a campfire, made s’mores, and sang songs.
  • The Labyrinth: This was the “e-night” on the last night of camp.  This was a time for students to walk from station to station around the camp to complete a few different activities, reflecting on all the different stories talked about during the week at camp.  I enjoyed planning and preparing for the Labyrinth, and then watching students experience it.  It turned out to be a pretty meaningful experience for many students, and many students finished the night talking and praying with people at the camp about their own thoughts, feelings, experiences, and questions about life, God, and Christianity.

The day after camp, when everyone was back in Žilina, we all got together again to hang out before the American team went back to the States.  We visited Strečno Hrad, a castle near the city, and then had a garden party at the church (complete with lots of good food, the camp band and camp dance, and fun).  Afterwards we went to get ice cream and ended up doing the camp dance in the center of the square, ha.

The American team left on Sunday morning.  Since then, us interns have had a couple of days to relax and prepare for the next term of camps.  In about an hour we’re going to go join the Žilina ECAV group for water football with students from camp.  The rest of the afternoon will be spent doing final preparations, and then the next American teams will arrive around dinner time tonight.  Tomorrow we head to the camp site for the next term of KECY.  Miriam and Josh will be doing KECY with Miriam’s hometown of Košice; Hunter, Mindy, and I will be with Dolný Kubín (the city I’ll be living in during the fall).

We’re all looking forward to see what the next week has in store.  Pictures and stories to come!