After a destructive tornado ravaged its campgrounds in Vartholomio, Greece last fall, Ionian Village has resumed its annual programs and is nearing the conclusion of its first summer session.
Also known by the acronym “IV,” Ionian Village is the summer camp of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in Greece. The camp allows teens and young adults to travel across Greece, venerate the relics of saints, walk in the footsteps of the apostles, and visit significant sites of Greek history and culture for the past five decades.
“It’s been a long winter for all of us here,” Director Father Evagoras Constantinides said. “But with the hard work and dedication of our team of workers and contractors, we were able to arrive here, to arrive home in time for the summer season.”
Campers and staff arrived at the fully repaired encampment in June and were blown away by the efforts made to bring the facilities back to speed.
The construction team was led by IV Operations Manager George Nastoulis, who grew up at the camp and was present with his family to witness the worst disaster in the program’s 46-year history.
Nastoulis commended the labor of all those who worked tirelessly to assure that the camp would not skip a year.
“This truly was a synergia, a group effort on the part of each contractor and each worker. They were here immediately after the storm hit, and worked day and night through the winter to get us here,” Nastoulis said. “They worked on weekends, they worked through rains and snow, they gave all they could to make sure that the children who want to come to the camp this summer would not be delayed, even by one day.”
The devastation occurred on the morning of September 8th, just weeks after campers and faculty had left the grounds and returned home from their summer-long journey.
At the time, the camp facilities had suffered substantial damage. Hundreds of trees were either toppled or uprooted; the area known as “The Pines,” home to the IV Orthodox Life program, was all but destroyed; and vast damages were incurred at areas including the pool, cabins, cafeteria, arts & crafts space, and living quarters for the camp animals.
In the months following the storm, numerous organizations and individuals throughout the United States donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the rebuilding fund.
“I give thanks to God that this effort, not only of restoring our beloved Ionian Village, but of raising these funds from alumni and parishes across the Archdiocese is an inspiring act of love and charity,” Archbishop Demetrios said. “The Ionian Village has made a tangible impact on thousands of young people over the past almost 50 years, and now with this significant work to restore the facility through the love of so many good and faithful donors, this important ministry of our Archdiocese will thrive for years to come.”
Over the past 42 years, IV has touched the hearts and souls of more than 16,000 people from all across the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, bringing them closer both to their faith and Hellenic heritage.
The numbers continue to grow, as the seafront campsite on the coast of the Ionian Sea accommodates 200 campers and 50 staff members in white-washed cabins and bungalows.
IV’s celebrated annual summer camp for high school-aged students began in late June and continues throughout the summer.