Ever since high school ended in June of 2014 things have been changing very rapidly in my life. Some things have ended, while others have just started. During the summer of 2014 one of the biggest changes for me was graduating from the summer camp that I have gone to ever since I can remember, Camp Nazareth. Camp Nazareth was a safe haven for my friends and I as it provided a way for us to express our faith with those around us, who understood the same faith we did. Once I started my first year of college, I realized how much I was going to miss having this safe haven to go back to every summer. I knew I was going to miss the memories, friends, and the general aura which surrounds Camp Nazareth making it, as some of my friends say, the closest parallel to heaven on Earth.
Before I began college I had always heard about this OCF (Orthodox Christian Fellowship) College Conference that Orthodox Christians in college go to and decided to try it out. After attending the conference, I could not have been happier that I decided to go. The College Conference once again gave me a place to go where I could express my faith without having to worry if people would understand. While we lived normal modern lives at the Conference, we were surrounded by our religion bringing to us a sense of security and belonging. Just as I had felt at Camp Nazareth, I also felt like I was at home at the OCF College Conference.
During the conference there were many moments of fun and laughter, while there were others of serenity, peace, and prayer. These are the kind of events that most college students are not able to experience. In a world that is constantly awake and moving, it was nice to have a place to go that was also peaceful.
While there were 300 of us, and we are all Orthodox Christians, there were a wide variety of people from all different backgrounds. Coming into college has really opened my eyes to the world and the wide variety of people in the world. The OCF College Conference was no different. The Conference really opened my eyes to different ideas regarding my faith, different practices, and just different ways of living our one Orthodox Faith. This experience really helped me because it allowed me to become more well-rounded in the ways I practice my faith at college. It also helped me understand people better because I learned about the different ways other college students practice and live their faith as Orthodox Christians.
Altogether, the OCF College Conference was the most amazing thing that I have gone to since my graduation from Camp Nazareth. I could not stop talking about my experience. I would strongly recommend this conference to all my Orthodox Christian friends in school because there is no better place for Orthodox Christians to go while they are in college. The things that I learned while attending the workshops have reinforced the way that I carry myself during my time at college. They also gave me ways to cope with today’s modern world as an Orthodox Christian. There is really no better place for Orthodox Christian college students to go to enrich their faith while still maintaining a sense of the modern world.
During my years at Camp Nazareth I made many friends who I still talk to today. These friendships are stronger than any other friendships I have and I know these friendships will last the rest of my life. The OCF College Conference gave me the same great opportunity to make the same connections and friendships. I made friends in Christ that have really changed my life. These friendships now allow me to reach out to others my age, who share the same Orthodox Faith, and are living their faith in ways I may not have considered. The most important thing that I took away from the Conference was the great friendships that I built and will use to strengthen my faith for the rest of my life.
On the last night of a Camp Nazareth camping week, everyone stays up until they can’t stay awake any longer, and then they embrace each other the next day because they don’t want to separate from one another. College Conference ended the same way, and just as at Camp, we all eagerly look forward to the next time we can be in one another’s company, in Christ.
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