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In 1974 while attending a religious conference, a group of men with a vision and serving as representatives of many Slavic (Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, etc.) churches in the eastern part of the United States and Canada met at the First Pentecostal Church in Toronto, Ontario.
At that meeting and after much debate and planning, an organization named Slavic Christian Youth Camp was born. A Constitution was drafted and approved
by the members present. The document was a simple blueprint for the organization, and consisted of two standard size 8 1/2" x 11" sheets of paper, one which briefly outlined the duties of officers and one which was an organizational flow chart.
At that time it should be noted that there was another Slavic Church organization already operating a "Family Camp," however these men believed that there was a
greater need to establish a special camp program specifically dedicated and geared toward the young people of those churches, since young people tend to
be more open and responsive when alone with their peers.
Two individuals were selected to operate the Youth Camp program and they were called Camp Directors, one for the United States and one for Canada. Both were charged with setting up and running the Camps which were to be held once annually in the summer. The original plan mandated that camp locations
would alternate between camp sites in both countries in order to make travel less of a burden to everyone every year.
The first camp took place in the summer of 1975 and was held at the facilities of the New Jersey District Assemblies of God camp located on Schooleys Mountain, in New Jersey. It was very successful, and at a wrap up meeting, the concept was officially adopted and approved for future planning.
By 1977, a younger group of people looked at the way the organization was being run, and they believed that the two Camp Directors were overburdened with work involving the camp, and a proposal for reorganization was brought forth and approved at another conference in Union, NJ.
A transitional committee was put in place to revamp the organization. That committee outlined and presented a more feasible operating plan and it was adopted and incorporated.
Changes involved setting up an Executive Board (Board of Directors) and delegating various responsibilities to members of the Board rather than having one person do everything.
The original "Camp Directors" would still be used as Camp Directors while at the camp, however administrative functions were to be handled by an independently elected board.
The original Constitution was revisited, and a document containing more specific and detailed attributes was drafted and accepted by the member churches. The revised document consisted of twenty one pages including a flow chart. The organization was renamed Christian Youth Camp Ministries of the Eastern United States and Canada.
All of the staff and Administrative Board and Directors were unpaid volunteers. They worked with the organization because they wanted to serve others. No one was paid for their work, as each staff member considered this a ministry
or a labor of love.
As the years progressed, camps were held in the United States and Canada, and the most successful years were in the mid 80ís. Many young people benefited from these camps, however in the early 90ís, the number of young people interested in attending decreased, not because of the program that was being offered, but because parents were simply giving in and allowing their children and young teens more options in where they went on vacations unsupervised. I cannot imagine my parents letting me go to Myrtle Beach, SC or to Florida with
a group of friends unsupervised, but this is life and things change.
Locating camp grounds became increasingly difficult, even after joining Christian Camping International. Facilities were booked up solid, and purchasing our own facilities was difficult at best, since those who we relied upon for financial assistance did not share a larger vision and only offered excuses and reasons
as to why purchasing our own property was not feasible.
The last year that this organization held a youth camp was in 1993. At a meeting of the Executive Board just prior to the 1993 camp, Mario Romualdo, Jr., who was active with the organization for 16 years and went from a recreation staff member to Executive Administrative Director declared to the board that the mission of Christian Youth Camp Ministries had come to an end. The organization
could no longer function as envisioned, nor with the dwindling number of campers and difficulty in getting staff together.
Naming factors such as the inability to attract and hold on to staff members who were no longer interested in working (even though camp fee for these people was covered) and the sharply decreasing attendance numbers, and after much personal struggle in prayer, it was apparent that the mission of the organization had come to an end.
Additionally, the Slavic Churches began to break away from their association primarily due to an influx of immigrants who had different concepts and ideals in serving God, plus the leadership of some of these churches just because (my
opinion) they burned out.
Itís a shame that people no longer want to work for ministry anymore. Mario would always respond people seeking paid jobs by saying that he volunteered his time for 16 years in service for the Kingdom and Glory of God, and could not
justify giving any worker payment for their services.
Paying people to serve in this capacity would have easily doubled the costs for parents and that would not be practical. It should be noted though that by this time, staff members were attending camp completely free of charge in exchange
for their time for several years. This is fair compensation.
After the 1993 camp, the organization was dissolved, and operations were transferred to the Youth Department of the Ukrainian Evangelical Assemblies of God Church in Union, NJ as they were one of the founding churches, and provided
the most financial support, along with the most attendance from a group. Within several years, they also dropped the program and instead opted to offer the Assemblies of God Youth Camp program instead.
Christian Youth Camp Ministries remained partially active in some ways up until the spring of 2006 and Mario Romualdo remained the last official contact for the organization. Believe it or not, CYCM continued to receive mail and inquiries ranging from perspective employees to perspective campers requesting
information on our camp program until 2004.
In the spring of 2006 which was thirteen years after the dissolution of CYCM, all of the files and records of the organization were reviewed for historical purposes and with some exceptions all of the files were purged (by shredding) and are no longer available. Some documentation was saved and has been shared with others
interested in starting camping programs.
Currently, all that remains are the memories and photos of good times with good friends.
We will be looking at a potential Camp Reunion in 2015.
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