KERHONKSON, N.Y. – The sights and sounds of children singing Ukrainian songs and learning about their heritage filled Soyuzivka Heritage Center from June 30 to July 5, as the “Tabir Ptashat” day camp brought children, parents, grandparents and counselors together. “Tabir Ptashat” is the day camp for Ukrainian-speaking children age 4-6 that is organized at the Soyuzivka Heritage Center by the Pershi Stezhi sorority of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization.
PHILADELPHIA – Over the 2017-2018 school year, the Plast community in Philadelphia was very busy, fulfilling the Ukrainian Scouting Organization’s mission of being faithful to God and Ukraine, helping others and living by the Scout Law.
Plast activities officially kicked off in September 2017, and soon thereafter many of the scouts (“yunatstvo,” age 11-17) began preparing for Orlykiada, a competition among Plast branches from various cities held in November at Soyuzivka Ukrainian Heritage Center in Kerhonkson, N.Y. This year’s Orlykiada focused on the courageous Ukrainian women through the centuries, including Kniahynia Olha, poet Lesia Ukrainka and U.S. astronaut Heidi Stefanyshyn-Piper.
Notably, the Philadelphia boys’ team won first place for its exhibit, third place for its skit, and second place over all. The Philadelphia girls’ team won second place for its skit and sixth place over all. Over Christmas break, many older Philadelphia scouts made their annual pilgrimage to Glens Falls, N.Y., to take part in ski camp at nearby Gore Mountain organized by the Burlaky fraternity. Philadelphia scouts also went carolling in the Philadelphia area during the Christmas season, spreading cheer to all they visited and raising money for the organization. On January 13, Philadelphia Plast held its annual Svichechka.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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, 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.
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.