2008 Christian Education Curriculum Camp Transfiguration

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2008 Christian Education Curriculum

Camp Transfiguration

Diocese of Ottawa

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese
Alex Younes, Camp Director

Jessica Younes, Christian Education Director

Table of Contents

Lesson 1: Purity 2

Lesson 2: Pray 7

Lesson 3: Obedience 13

Lesson: Byzantine Chanting 17

Lesson: Lives of the Saints 21

Lesson: Icons Explained 36

Lesson: Theotokos: Purity, Obedience, Prayer

(Acronym “P.O.P.”) 42

Counselor’s Backup Page 56

Lesson 1: Purity


  1. Know and present the following stories from the life of the Theotokos:

a) Her life in the Temple

b) The Annunciation Scandal

  1. The Withered Hand (Nativity)

  1. Discuss what purity of body, mind, and soul means

  2. Bring out how God blesses those who want and try to be chaste

  3. Make connections between the above stories of the Theotokos’ life and the campers’ lives

    1. She shows us how to build and maintain purity in our lives

    2. She gives us strength and encouragement from her example

    3. She is a very powerful intercessor (before the throne of God) who beseeches Him to help us; He listens to her because she was granted this blessing as His mother.

    4. Discuss what the campers can do to maintain a pure life at home, in school, with their friends, etc.

  1. Activity (3 min)

: begin with the question of ‘What does purity look like to you?’

: hand out 2 pieces of paper and markers to the kids and instruct them to draw what purity looks like to them (some will not want to do this because they can’t draw well but don’t worry, just tell them the time is passing quickly)

: time this activity for 60 sec.

: NO PEEKING at their neighbor’s work

: have the kids turn over their papers to look at later

: now also draw what you think her purity looked like on the 2nd paper

: turn that paper over also, so both are face down

  1. Introduction (5-7 min)

  • Theotokos thought purity was one of the most important things for her, next to God.

  • she spent so much time and hard work on it that people wondered about her all the time

  • this is what she did:

  • she prayed quietly in her mind every moment of the day (she never stopped) (unceasing prayer)

  • she prayed the required daily prayers every day (she didn’t miss any of them)

  • she prayed for others (intercessory prayer)

  • she fasted a lot (everyday), eating only once a day and that was bread sent from heaven and given to her by an angel

  • each day, the food that she was given (by the priests) was sent to the poor (almsgiving)

  • she worked without complaining even if she was tired (she slept for only a few hours each day)
  • she was obedient to all she lived with, e.g. If they asked her to get them something and she was occupied with something else, she got up and did it happily

  • she made a huge effort not to offend anyone by her words, the way she looked at them, etc

  • she was modest in how she dressed so she wouldn’t be the cause of sin to men

  • she was friendly

  • she didn’t talk a lot and her conversations were about spiritual things mostly

  • she spoke softly and didn’t talk crudely

  • she studied really hard

  • she smiled gently and always had an encouraging word

  • she kept her thoughts on holy, good and beautiful things

  • she loved to study scripture and go to Church services (these gave her strength)

  • her face was radiantly beautiful but she didn’t look at herself except to examine her soul to see if it was the way God wanted it to be

  • she worked at purity of her mind, her heart and her body so much that her face shone with heavenly light

  • there’s lots more but you get the idea

In all her studies of scripture (they had the first 5 books of the Old Testament called the Pentateuch at that time) and thinking about Godly things, she realized that her purity could be ‘captured’ by Satan and all of her efforts in keeping herself pure could be lost in the ‘twinkling of an eye’ if she didn’t stay diligent in working on it and vigilant about what she allowed into her mind and soul (her body wasn’t as much the focus).

  1. Activity (15-20 min)

Stuck in the Mud’ or ‘Capture’

  1. Stick a sticky note to each campers’ back
  2. The object of the game is for the campers to snatch the paper off everyone else’s back without losing their own

  3. If a camper loses their paper, they must sit down on the ground (they are ‘stuck in the mud’ or ‘captured’)

  4. If the counselor tags those who are sitting down with a fresh sticky note, they can get up and continue playing (the counselor is the lifeline)

  5. After 5-7 minutes (depending on camper enthusiasm) the counselor calls “time” and those who still have their sticky notes are the winners (surprise them with a piece of candy) and they get a star beside their name (for the scavenger hunt)

Discussion: (5-10 minutes)

  1. Ask campers what they thought of the game

  2. Did they think it was easy perhaps what they were thinking while they played the game (ie: were some competitive about keeping their paper? did it not matter to others? did some give up quickly? etc.) --- counselor can write some of these down if appropriate to the lesson

    • The point here is to bring out our attitudes about keeping something important (eg: there are those who are indifferent about it, others who want to lose it, and others who are serious about keeping this important thing) These attitudes will be incorporated into any discussion as you go along.

    • Brain-storm other meanings and names of purity

- have them call them out randomly

- write on a bristol board the other names for purity (eg. chastity, virginity, modesty, clean, white, innocent, etc.)

Teaching Tip!!! use different colored markers, large and small sized letters, have a camper do the writing making it look ‘cool’.

  1. Activity 2 (15 min)

This Anatomy Class is Brought to You by God”

*Materials: ‘Body’ kit (bag with a brain, heart and small body)

: tape (to tape body parts on camper’s clothing)

: mad scientist costume (wig, lab coat, large glasses, laser pointer)
*Intro: “Purity is something that can really only be understood through living examples. So here’s our living example.” --- Counselor chooses a taller camper to be the ‘dummy’.

Now for zee anatomy class, class.”

*Counselor can dress up as a mad scientist who is going to teach the class a ‘very important lesson by zee most famous scientist of all time, GOD’. Use a cool accent to talk. Counselor can write points on a separate poster board if they want in goofy handwriting.

1. mind – is the place where ideas come to us, either from outside or our own desires

-it takes ideas and makes them into thoughts

- it is the guardian of our souls and controls what goes into the soul

2. soul - two of the parts of the soul are:

a) the heart of the soul- the ‘heart’ is not our physical heart but rather the deepest part of our soul, where the Holy Spirit lives; it’s the part that we want to protect so that the Holy Spirit will continue to live there

b) the part that makes us want or desire something (appetitive part)

3. body - the body is the part of us that expresses things to others through what we say and do

(movements and actions)

- physical feelings and sensations can help us in keeping pure or trap us into bad habits

- its because the sensations make us feel good (and we all want to feel good)

- the one part of it that can be spiritual is the tongue (its the only part of the body that can

pray and praise God, as well as, say evil things.)

Counselors: explain concepts of mind, soul and body in as creative/goofy way as you can, modifying the explanation according to the age group you are teaching, while getting the points across

*divide campers into 3 groups after explanation is finished and have them brain-storm “Which of these body parts do they think has the most influence on purity and why?” (2-3 min. out of the total 10 min., no more)

Discussion: (5-10 min.)
*Have some or all of the groups share their ideas and praise them for great answers.

*to lead them into the next concept a suggested approach is, “So now we’re all getting the idea that purity involves our minds, our souls and our bodies. It’s a lot of hard work (if you judge it by the efforts of the Virgin Mary). So I if we want to understand about how we get purity, we have to realize that

*have campers shout it out (optional) or make it into a catchy rap if they’re good at it

  1. Wrap-Up (5-10 min)

*God always rewards out efforts when we try hard because we love Him. He sees every single one of them even if no one else does. The Theotokos understood this even though she didn’t expect it.

*She understood how the relationship between her mind, soul and body works in making good or bad habits. As a result, she struggled to keep them pure all her life (even when she was little). She experienced temptations like we do but she made sure that she didn’t give in to them. What was the result? God rewarded her efforts by giving her the highest honour, becoming the Birth-giver and Mother of His Holy Son, Jesus Christ.

*Many people have tried to tell us that it’s a lie that she was pure and that even her Holy Son was not pure (had children from Mary Magdalene). They have also said that He is not the Son of God. We know differently.

*God knew that people would doubt the truth about the Holy Virgin Mary (Vierge Mary) and so He gave us proof of her purity. Here are 2 of the miracles that happened in her life and were recorded.

*Ask the question to the campers, has your idea of purity changed (what they originally drew on the papers at the beginning)?


-counselors can get campers to help them if there’s time (counselor’s choice of campers in order to save time)

1. -The Annunciation Scandal (props – wine goblet, colored water)

2. The Withered Hand (Nativity) (props – a size medium or large black glove, a flashlight, a large Bristol board cloud, a baby doll wrapped in a plain white cloth)

  • Indicate on the Icon of Theotokos the 3 stars of her virginity

*Ask trivia questions from the lesson especially from her life stories! (if there’s time)

Note: A fantastic idea would be for the counselor to organize a support group (for outside of camp) amongst the campers whereby they can call each other or their counselor when they are struggling with temptations, or if they need to talk about potential problems, or if they just need to know they’re not alone in their struggle (Note: This can be used for prayer and obedience also.)

      • It’s better not to do this online since it is less personal – telephone or letters are preferable (they are also more private and intimate)

      • Can do a phone exchange

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