Nothing Can Stop the Love – Virtual Camp Agape Shines
Camp Agape. Two small words, yet they are full of power and love. For over 35 years, Camp Agape has been a signature ministry for the Metropolis of San Francisco Philoptochos, and not even the Coronavirus pandemic could stop the love that is shared unconditionally with these children who are battling cancer and their families.
“I have had the privilege of meeting several Camp Agape families and their courage and resilience are inspiring. I know that Camp Agape is a highlight for them, but the circumstances of the pandemic, coupled with their compromised health conditions, made it impossible for any type of in-person gathering, but the Metropolis Philoptochos, with their boundless enthusiasm and love, brought Camp Agape into their homes, and made an indelible mark on their hearts, especially during this time of great need,” remarked His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco.
Metropolis Philoptochos President Jeannie Ranglas, along with Board and Chapter members, quickly mobilized so that these special families did not miss out on the opportunity to participate in Camp Agape in a virtual format. The program included reunion night with former Camp Agape families, a trivia challenge, scavenger hunt, family puzzles, campfire songs, and sharing many memories of this life-changing camp.
“Sharing agape is at the heart of our ministry. We often say when promoting Camp Agape, ‘Give your heart to a child’, and this is what is at the core of our efforts,” stated Metropolis of San Francisco Philoptochos President Jeannie Ranglas. “I am proud to be a part of this truly life-changing program. And while we have sadly lost many of our campers to cancer over nearly four decades, we also celebrate the survivors – the thrivers – who have conquered the mountain called cancer and continue to live life to its fullest.”
One unique component about Camp Agape is that it is not just for the children who are battling cancer. Rather, it is for the entire family – parents, siblings, and grandparents, too! Agape boxes – filled with love, activities, camp memorabilia and more – were sent to each family, and these care packages were a welcome surprise. Each year, the Metropolis of San Francisco Philoptochos offers four Camp Agape programs in the following locations: Orme School in Mayer, AZ; Saint Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center in Dunlap, CA; Whispering Winds in Julian, CA; and Camp Angelos in Corbett, OR. For 2020, Camp Agape was planned for each of these four camps in a virtual setting and welcomed over 100 families to celebrate the spirit and love of Camp Agape.
There are many memorable experiences associated with Camp Agape over the years, but the one thing that stands out is the hospitality – the true philoxenia – offered by the Metropolis Philoptochos to the Camp Agape families. Included in their care packages were restaurant and Amazon gift cards, puzzles, board games, arts and crafts supplies, Camp Agape t-shirts with the 2020 logo “United in Peace and Love”, and a special gift for each camper from their personal wish list.