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.

Matej Handzy is flanked by the U.S. national director of maritime and aviation scouting, Markian Kuzmowycz (left), and his father, Damian Handzy.

Passaic Plast member earns rank of maritime eagle scout

PASSAIC, N.J. – Before the summer begins, branches of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization look back at the accomplishments that they made over the past year. Plast Troop 31, based in Passaic, N.J., was lucky to have one of its members, Matej Handzy, lead by example this year when he received one of the highest specialized ranks in Plast: maritime eagle scout. At his first Morskyi Tabir (Plast Sea Scouting Camp) in 2013, Matej did not quite know what to expect when he began working on the first of the 39 tasks and projects that are required in order to receive this rank. The required tasks varied from simple ones, such as learning various sailing knots and the history of sea scouting, to more difficult projects, like building a mast and a fully functioning dock. After three summers of hard work, Matej became the 27th recorded recipient in the world of the Plast rank of maritime eagle scout.

Members of the Barvinok Ukrainian Dance Ensemble and students of the School of Ukrainian Studies, both based in South Bound Brook, N.J., pose for a photo during the “vechirka.”

Youths enjoy “vechirka” at Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey

WHIPPANY, N.J. – On April 16, here at the Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey, a “vechirka” (dance) was held for the youth of the metropolitan area. The vechirka was planned by the Plast girl scouts of the Newark, N.J., branch, with the sponsorship of the Plast sorority Ti, Shcho Hrebli Rvut. It was the second annual teen dance sponsored by the sorority. About 50 young people from various organizations, including Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization, the Ukrainian American Youth Association, the Iskra Ukrainian Dance Academy and the Barvinok Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, as well as the Schools of Ukrainian Studies in Whippany and South Bound Brook, N.J. attended the event. The entertainment was provided by DJ Mark Mulyk, assisted by Matt Yuen, who played great music that included the ever-popular Kolomiyka which brought everyone out onto the dance floor.

Members of the Tsvitka Ukrainian Dance Academy with their director, Andrij Cybyk, and Sister Michele Yakymovitch of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate.

Tsvitka dance troupe flourishes at seniors’ residence

SLOATSBURG, N.Y. – This January, the residents of St. Joseph’s Adult Care Home in Sloatsburg, N.Y., received a pleasant holiday surprise. The families of Tsvitka Ukrainian Dance Academy organized a Ukrainian holiday celebration to thank the home’s residents. The celebration brought the love of Ukrainian culture to St. Joseph’s, and it touched all of the residents’ hearts.

Plast cub scouts and families gather in preparation for the lighting of the bonfire at Holiday Mountain.

Plast cub scouts enjoy ski trip to Holiday Mountain

MONTICELLO, N.Y. – The ninth annual winter outing for the Plast cub scouts of the greater New York area took place on February 7 at the Holiday Mountain ski resort in Monticello, N.Y. This one-day ski trip was organized by the Spartanky senior Plast sorority. Forty-three Plast cub scouts along with their families, totaling over 80 participants, took advantage of gorgeous weather and group discounts to enjoy skiing as beginners or novices on the trails of the beginner-friendly ski mountain. Snow tubing was also available for everyone. The ski trails and tubing tracks were generously covered with man-made snow, allowing for a full day of snow sports. In keeping with Plast tradition, the day concluded with a large bonfire built by the Holiday Mountain staff for the Plast group.

Students of Self-Reliance Ukrainian School in New York.

At the U.N.: honoring victims of genocide

NEW YORK – The United Nations was honoring all genocide victims of the world during the week of December 7, 2015. On Wednesday, December 9, I was among a group of students from the Self-Reliance Ukrainian School of New York City who were invited to honor and remember victims of the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide of 1932-1933, the Holodomor, at the U.N.

Students from Grades 3, 4, 6 and 12 presented a solemn prayer and poem. We held candles, and two sixth grade students held a cross and sheaf of wheat. Our prayer and poem reminded the audience attending how more than 7 million Ukrainians died during a forced starvation planned by the Communist ruler Joseph Stalin. I was very sad and could not believe that Ukraine suffered so much.

NEW YORK – Saturday, December 19, marked the feast day of St. Nicholas according to the Julian calendar, and the New York Branch of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization celebrated “Sviato Mykolaya” with a children’s play organized by head counselors Dianna Shmerykowsky and Ostap Gladun, and directed by Ivan Makar. “Ptashata,” the youngest, 5-year old members of Plast, “novatstvo” (cub scouts age 6-11) and “yunatstvo” (scouts age 11-18) participated in an enchanting story about a young girl who had to decide between good and evil. The first scene began with the sprinkling of snowflakes, and the Ptashata danced a short dance choreographed by counselor Chrystia Gorski-Makar. Seen above are “Ptashata” who played the roles of snowflakes in the play “Eve of St. Nicholas”: (front row, from left) Sofiya Mato, Marta Rak, Zoryana Popadynew, Nicolas Mychalczak, (back row) Karina Decherytsia, Lev Ferencevych, Taras Rusynyak, Martin Pedragosa, Alexa Chwyl and Boyan Makar. (Anna Hlum is missing from the photo.)

New York Plast celebrates feast day of St. Nicholas

NEW YORK – Saturday, December 19, marked the feast day of St. Nicholas according to the Julian calendar, and the New York Branch of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization celebrated “Sviato Mykolaya” with a children’s play organized by head counselors Dianna Shmerykowsky and Ostap Gladun, and directed by Ivan Makar. “Ptashata,” the youngest, 5-year old members of Plast, “novatstvo” (cub scouts age 6-11) and “yunatstvo” (scouts age 11-18) participated in an enchanting story about a young girl who had to decide between good and evil. The first scene began with the sprinkling of snowflakes, and the Ptashata danced a short dance choreographed by counselor Chrystia Gorski-Makar. Seen above are “Ptashata” who played the roles of snowflakes in the play “Eve of St.

On the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, where a papal mass was celebrated by Pope Francis, (from left) are: Olesyk Firko, Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Markian Shust and Zachar Firko.

Plast scouts share impressions of pope’s visit to Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA – Three members of the Philadelphia branch of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization attended the papal liturgy in Philadelphia on September 27. They opted to wear their Plast scout uniforms for the special occasion. Below they share a little about their experience. Olesyk Firko, 18, a senior in high school, said:

“Zachar Firko, Markian Shust and I ventured from a local train station at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning to see the pope and take part in his Liturgy. Even though we waited in line for two and a half hours, we still had a great time.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – On Saturday morning, October 31, the younger students of the New Haven School of Ukrainian Studies (“Ridna Shkola”) celebrated Halloween. Schoolteacher Halia Lodynsky led this celebration with games that the children enjoyed. All the children wore beautiful costumes. – Halia Jurczak-Lodynsky

New Haven “Ridna Shkola” holds Halloween celebration

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – On Saturday morning, October 31, the younger students of the New Haven School of Ukrainian Studies (“Ridna Shkola”) celebrated Halloween. Schoolteacher Halia Lodynsky led this celebration with games that the children enjoyed. All the children wore beautiful costumes.