The weekend of June 9, 10, and 11, many members of the St Herman of Alaska parish made pilgrimage to the Kazan Church on the Russian River, near Guerneville, CA. Our Archbishop KYRILL graciously opened the doors to this wonderful setting, amid redwoods and upon the shores of the river, for our parish camping trip.
Fr Martin and Matushka Sarah arrived a day early on Thursday to make preparations for everyone’s arrival. To our concern, the day was rainy and wet… the grounds intended for camping were full of puddles and an ‘advisory’ was sent to forewarn campers of the conditions. Thanks to the prayers of the Mother of God and St Herman, late Thursday turned sunny and windy… these conditions continued all day Friday so that, by the time people were arriving, the sun and wind had dried everything nicely and the remainder of the weekend was just beautiful!
Campers arrived throughout Friday… pitching their tents and settling in. In the evening we had Evening Prayers, dinner, and an outdoor movie presentation. Campers bundled up under blankets and enjoyed a showing of ‘The Princess Bride’ – an amusing fairy tale which all ages seemed to appreciate.
Saturday morning began with Morning Prayers and then a breakfast. After breakfast, we carpooled to the nearby Armstrong Redwoods Park where a choice could be made between a flat one mile hike around the forest floor, or a more rigorous four mile hike up to the ridges and back. The park was absolutely beautiful and both teams of hikers had a great time.
After lunch, that afternoon was designated as ‘free time’… most of the families took advantage of the direct path on the property down to the river and enjoyed swimming and splashing in the water. Others relaxed around camp, and others explored other local activities.
In the evening we reassembled for the Saturday evening Vigil service. It was a great pleasure to serve and pray in the Kazan Church amid the beautiful icons and under the shade of the towering trees.
Following Vigil we had another fantastic dinner and then all gathered around the campfire for some songs, games, and conversation.
Sunday morning we had Divine Liturgy in the Church… celebrating All Saints under the omophorion of the Mother of God in her Kazan Icon. It was a great privilege and great blessing to be there together!
Following Liturgy a brunch was served and then all began reluctantly taking down their tents and packing for the ride home.
I think I speak for all in saying that the weekend was a great success. Being able to spend time together like this was both a great pleasure and I believe all felt a renewed and strengthened sense of community and a ‘parish family spirit’.
We will be gathering feedback to keep improving on these experiences, which, with God’s blessing, we intend to make more frequent parts of our parish life.
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