Members of the Plast scout patrol Pumas enjoy the scenery on one of the trails.

Pumas blaze trails at Soyuzivka Heritage Center

KERHONKSON, N.Y. – This past spring, Plast scouts of Kerhonkson, N.Y., completed a trailblazing project, assisting in the clean-up of hiking trails located at Soyuzivka Heritage Center. Our valiant team, led by scoutmasters Roman Hrab Sr., Roman Wasylyk and Nadia Maczaj, included Roman Hrab Jr., Vera Hrab, Julianna Maczaj and Pavlo Mysak, all members of the Plast scout patrol named Pumas. We contacted the assistant manager at Soyuzivka, Stefko Drabyk (also a member of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization), to ask if we could help in the springtime clean-up. He replied enthusiastically, supplying us with trail blazes and tools. We also received a trail map, showing the five trails – red, yellow, green, blue and orange.

Participants of the Plast Merit Badge Weekend, including scout, counselors and parent volunteers.

Plast scouts enjoy merit badge weekend

EAST CHATHAM, N.Y. – The Plast New York branch’s adult scouts (age 18-35) organized Merit Badge Weekend on Friday-Sunday, September 29-October 1 at the Vovcha Tropa campsite in upstate new York. This field trip originated several years ago as an opportunity for members of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization age 12-18 to complete the requirements for several merit badges that are typically not offered during summer camps. This year, almost 100 Plast scouts and counselors from Plast branches and groups in Newark and Passaic, N.J.; New York, Yonkers, Hempstead, Kerhonkson and Albany, N.Y.; Hartford, Conn.; and Philadelphia, participated, as did one independent scout. Several parent volunteers assisted in running the program. After the opening ceremony, participants had a chance to earn one or two of the six merit badges offered: archery, target shooting, bicycling, nature, photography and etiquette.

St. George Academy at the Ukrainian American Youth Association grounds in Ellenville, N.Y.

St. George Academy goes on retreat

ELLENVILLE, N.Y. – In mid-September, the students and faculty of St. George Academy (SGA) embarked on the first annual SGA retreat. The retreat took place on September 13-15 on the grounds of the Ukrainian American Youth Association (known as “oselia”) in Ellenville, N.Y., located at the base of the beautiful Catskill Mountains. The purpose of the retreat was to give students the opportunity to get to know each other and their faculty better, to forge lasting bonds and to experience a different environment, where they could learn new things and create lasting memories. The students enjoyed a variety of activities during their stay, including sports, swimming, hiking, singing, dancing and making new friends.

Plast scouts in Philadelphia join hands as they end their year of activities.

Philadelphia Plast celebrates a fun-filled year

PHILADELPHIA – Over this past academic year, Plast Philadelphia was a very active, vibrant community reflecting the Ukrainian scouting organization’s mission of being faithful to God and Ukraine, helping others and living by the Plast code. The year began with the unveiling of our new “domivka,” the room that is the central meeting place for all Philadelphia scouts. One of the older boy scout troops (the Wild Goats) led the volunteer project with the help of their advisors, Oleh Luba and Marc Chuma, to remodel the room into an area that could be used for both meetings and as a community space. Replacing old, stained ceiling tiles was only the beginning. From repainting the room with fresher colors to replacing worn and discolored carpeting with modern hardwood flooring, the room was transformed.

Plast scouts stand guard at the “Plashchanytsia” (Holy Shroud) at Holy Protection of the Mother of God Church in Mount Kisco, N.Y. From left are: Larissa Pawliczko, Mykola Pawliczko and Mark Myskiw.

Plast Yonkers participates in Good Friday and Holy Saturday services at two parishes

YONKERS, N.Y. – Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization of Yonkers, N.Y., participated in the Good Friday evening service on Friday, April 14, at the Holy Protection of the Mother of God Parish in Mount Kisco, N.Y., headed by the Rev. Taras Chaparin. The traditional service was followed by a procession of children carrying the Holy Cross and the Holy Shroud, or “Plashchenytsia.” They circled around the church three times with Father Taras before laying the Plashchenytsia down at the altar. Children then stood on each side of the Plashchenytsia as parishioners went up to pay their respects to the Lord. Members of the Yonkers branch of the Ukrainian American Youth Association and young parishioners also participated in the procession. On Holy Saturday, April 15, members of Plast Yonkers, as well as UAYA Yonkers, also participated at St.

wilmington-communion

Wilmington celebrates its communicants

WILMINGTON, Del. – On Sunday, June 4, five children received their First Penance and Holy Eucharist during services at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Wilmington, Del. The children had studied under Mary Kennedy to prepare for their first confession. Seen above are: the Rev. Volodymr Klanichka (pastor), Ms. Kennedy and the first communicants (from left): Elena Ivanna Bilyk, Sophia Andrea Bilyk, Sophia Mary Dingler, Zoryana Kaitlyn Hellenga and Phillip Serhiy Kuzhanov.

hillside-may-procession

Hillside children honor Mother of God

HILLSIDE, N.J. – On Sunday, May 7, the children of Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Hillside, N.J., honored the Blessed Mother by processing with flowers, singing a hymn to Mary Immaculate and crowning Mary, the Theotokos. The children also concluded their religious education classes for the season; they resume the classes on Sunday, September 10. Seen above are children who participated in the procession.

In Washington (from left) are: Juliana Babycheva, Anna-Liza Medynska, Adrian Kebuz, Liudmyla Mazuka (the Ukrainian ambassador’s wife), Ambassador Valeriy Chaly, Diana Savchyn, Anastasiya Stolyarchuk and Natalie Hrytsay. The students are in the seventh through ninth grades of the Ukrainian Heritage School of Philadelphia.

Youth Civics and Public Policy Club at Ukrainian Days in Washington

JENKINTOWN, Pa. – On March 8, six members of the American-Ukrainian Youth Civics and Public Policy Club, a program of the Ukrainian Heritage School of the Philadelphia area, traveled to Washington to participate in Ukrainian Days, an advocacy event organized by the Ukrainian National Information Service (UNIS) of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA). Our group included Julia Babycheva,  Anna-Liza Medynska, Adrian Kebuz, Diana Savchyn, Natalie Hrytsay and this writer, Anastasiya Stolyarchuk. Our first taste of the life of politics in Washington was a briefing session about the purpose and strategy of Ukrainian Days. Presentations by two prominent foreign affairs specialists, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John E. Herbst (currently the director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center of the Atlantic Council) and Ambassador William Courtney (currently adjunct senior fellow of the RAND Corporation), laid a factual and foreign policy-oriented foundation for UNIS Director Michael Sawkiw’s review of pertinent bills that the Ukrainian American community is striving to pass through Congress.

Ruslana Orysia Makar, dressed as St. Princess Olha, stands before her informative poster about the ruler of Kyivan Rus’.

I was St. Princess Olha of Kyiv

HARTSDALE, N.Y. – I am a fifth grade student at Sacred Heart School in Hartsdale, N.Y., in Westchester. My teacher recently gave my class an assignment to choose any historic hero that changed the world. She wanted to make this a “wax museum” effect. Since I wanted to share my Ukrainian heritage, I decided to select the first and only Ukrainian female ruler of Ukraine – St. Princess Olha.

Campers summit Seneca Rocks holding a Ukrainian flag.

A first: Plast Rock Climbing Camp in 2016

When Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization’s regular three-week summer camps end, it is often the case that Plast scouts head to camps with specialized themes. This year in addition to Morskyi Tabir (Sea Scouting Camp), which took place at Kellys Island, Ohio, on Lake Erie, there was a first-of-its-kind Rock Climbing Camp at Seneca Rocks, W. Va. Campers hailing from California to New York City, and points in between, descended on West Virginia’s Rock Climbing mecca – Seneca Rocks. Most of the campers knew each other, having camped together at various Plast campgrounds over the past few years. Rock Climbing Tabir 2016 was the brainchild of Dartsia and Marko Jakubowycz, who have climbed extensively in the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area.