'Meet me at the chapel': three weeks at a Greek Orthodox summer camp

Sunday, February 9, 2020 - 6:40pm

Ionian Villages motto is “meet me at the chapel” which is pictured here. It is at the center of the camp ground and is the staple of the camp and symbolizes the entire experience.

Ionian Villages motto is “meet me at the chapel” which is pictured here. It is at the center of the camp ground and is the staple of the camp and symbolizes the entire experience. Buy this photo
Sophia Afendoulis/Daily

When I was eight years old, my mom sent me to overnight summer camp and I was dreading going. By no means did I want to leave home or my mom and spend a week up in northern Michigan with strangers in a foreign place. I cried the entire way there. If I went back to my eight-year-old self and told her that I had attended a summer camp in Greece for three weeks, she would not have believed me.

 

While being at the summer camp, Ionian Village, we had several on site events. The camp is located on the Ionian Sea and has a private beach. One of the most memorable nights was the camp wide “beach party” which can be seen in this photo.

While being at the summer camp, Ionian Village, we had several on site events. The camp is located on the Ionian Sea and has a private beach. One of the most memorable nights was the camp wide “beach party” which can be seen in this photo. Buy this photo
Sophia Afendoulis/Daily

 Ancient Olympia is one of the most famous tourist locations in Greece. It is the site of the first Olympics.

Ancient Olympia is one of the most famous tourist locations in Greece. It is the site of the first Olympics. Buy this photo
Sophia Afendoulis/Daily

Greek Invasion was one of the several events that occurred at Ionian Village. The local dance troupe came to the camp and performed a traditional greek dance set while also dancing with the campers.

Greek Invasion was one of the several events that occurred at Ionian Village. The local dance troupe came to the camp and performed a traditional greek dance set while also dancing with the campers. Buy this photo
Sophia Afendoulis/Daily

Ionian Villages motto is “meet me at the chapel” which is pictured here. It is at the center of the camp ground and is the staple of the camp and symbolizes the entire experience.

Ionian Villages motto is “meet me at the chapel” which is pictured here. It is at the center of the camp ground and is the staple of the camp and symbolizes the entire experience. Buy this photo
Sophia Afendoulis/Daily

 

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Greece and attend a summer camp without any technology. All I had was myself and my camera. I can honestly say that it was one of the most impactful experiences of my entire life. Throughout the three weeks, I traveled to some of the most beautiful churches, beaches, historical sites, and cities. I also had the opportunity to interact with locals throughout several islands and villages in Greece. This cultural experience opened my eyes to so many things, and I was able to have the opportunity to capture it through my camera lens. 

 

The island of Zakynthos is a very diverse island because it has urban streets and areas, such as this one, but also small villages on top of mountains.

The island of Zakynthos is a very diverse island because it has urban streets and areas, such as this one, but also small villages on top of mountains. Buy this photo
Sophia Afendoulis/Daily

Cathedral of Saint Andrew is one of the largest churches in Greece. It is located in Patras, which I had the opportunity to spend the day and photograph.

Cathedral of Saint Andrew is one of the largest churches in Greece. It is located in Patras, which I had the opportunity to spend the day and photograph. Buy this photo
Sophia Afendoulis/Daily

 The Massacre of Kalavryta took place in December of 1943 during World War II, this cross is at the memorial of the massacre. There were over 600 deaths during the massacre. It was a very somber experience.

The Massacre of Kalavryta took place in December of 1943 during World War II, this cross is at the memorial of the massacre. There were over 600 deaths during the massacre. It was a very somber experience. Buy this photo
Sophia Afendoulis/Daily

One of the most beautiful islands that I had the opportunity to visit was Zakynthos. As you can tell from the photo, the water is extremely clear.

One of the most beautiful islands that I had the opportunity to visit was Zakynthos. As you can tell from the photo, the water is extremely clear. Buy this photo
Sophia Afendoulis/Daily

 

While capturing several moments throughout my three week trip, I tried to encapsulate every aspect of the experience, large and small. I went to some of the most famous parts of Greece, such as the Parthenon, Monastiraki in Athens, the island of Zakynthos, and Cathedral of Saint Andrew in Patras, the largest church in Greece. On the other hand, I interacted with young children in small villages, monks who had lived on the top of mountains for years, and went to villages that aren’t even on the map. It was incredible to be able to document my trip through my camera, because I was able to express my creativity while also having a way to remember my trip. The whole experience was so special because I was able to go through it with people who had similar values to me, and in a short time, we were able to become extremely close friends. 

 

Kefalonia is one of the islands that my ancestors were from in Greece. It was incredible to be able to see where some of my great grandparents grew up and visit some of the smaller lesser known villages on the island.

Kefalonia is one of the islands that my ancestors were from in Greece. It was incredible to be able to see where some of my great grandparents grew up and visit some of the smaller lesser known villages on the island. Buy this photo
Sophia Afendoulis/Daily

On a one day excursion we visited the island of Kalavryta. It is a very mountainous island and we were able to visit three monasteries, one of which had a photo of almost every patron saint. I was able to find my patron saint, Saint Sophia, in the church.

On a one day excursion we visited the island of Kalavryta. It is a very mountainous island and we were able to visit three monasteries, one of which had a photo of almost every patron saint. I was able to find my patron saint, Saint Sophia, in the church. Buy this photo
Sophia Afendoulis/Daily

Hosios Loukas is one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites. The dome inside the main church of the monastery was completed in the 11th century. Being able to see and capture traditional Byzantine architecture was an unforgettable experience.

Hosios Loukas is one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites. The dome inside the main church of the monastery was completed in the 11th century. Being able to see and capture traditional Byzantine architecture was an unforgettable experience. Buy this photo
Sophia Afendoulis/Daily

The last stop of the three week trip was the Parthenon. It is located in Athens, Greece and is the formal temple on the acropolis. The walk to get to reach it was grueling, but the view is great.

The last stop of the three week trip was the Parthenon. It is located in Athens, Greece and is the formal temple on the acropolis. The walk to get to reach it was grueling, but the view is great. Buy this photo
Sophia Afendoulis/Daily

 

I had the opportunity to experience amazing people and places throughout my trip. Through my time in Greece, I was inspired to grow closer to my culture and hopefully become a counselor at the summer camp I attended in Greece. It was an incredible time to use photography to capture one of the most memorable three weeks of my life.

 

A large part of Greek Culture is traditional Greek Dancing. While in Athens, we visited a local taverna. Everyone was able to dance, eat, and socialize with locals.

A large part of Greek Culture is traditional Greek Dancing. While in Athens, we visited a local taverna. Everyone was able to dance, eat, and socialize with locals. Buy this photo
Sophia Afendoulis/Daily

Nectarios of Aegina is the patron saint of cancer. The trip to Aegina was right at the end of the three weeks. Being a modern saint, we were able to see where he lived and worked. It was an extremely memorable experience.

Nectarios of Aegina is the patron saint of cancer. The trip to Aegina was right at the end of the three weeks. Being a modern saint, we were able to see where he lived and worked. It was an extremely memorable experience. Buy this photo
Sophia Afendoulis/Daily

The Parthenon from a different perspective. Due to how old the parthenon is, it is almost always under construction. Being able to visit one of the oldest monuments in Greece with some of my best friends was amazing.

The Parthenon from a different perspective. Due to how old the parthenon is, it is almost always under construction. Being able to visit one of the oldest monuments in Greece with some of my best friends was amazing. Buy this photo
Sophia Afendoulis/Daily

This is the Hosios Loukas Monastery, we stopped there on our six hour drive to Athens. Greece is so interesting because there are so many monasteries and other historical monuments that are spread out and not near large cities.

This is the Hosios Loukas Monastery, we stopped there on our six hour drive to Athens. Greece is so interesting because there are so many monasteries and other historical monuments that are spread out and not near large cities. Buy this photo
Sophia Afendoulis/Daily