Every year, St. George Pathfinders of America’s New York-based "Tsarskoe Selo" Chapter holds a summer camp for boy and girl scouts of Russian heritage in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. The organization is a direct successor to the original Russian scouting movement founded under Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II in 1909. The Tsar charged Oleg I. Pantyukhov to organize the first scout camp in Russia, which met in Pavlovsk Park near the Royal Village, Tsarskoe Selo. Pantyukhov utilized the guides and materials prepared by scouting founder Robert Lord Baden-Powell, most significantly his handbook, Scouting for Boys.
On Saturday the 14th and Sunday the 15th of July, Tsarskoe Selo held its annual Remembrance of the Fallen Faithful (in Russian DPV) ceremony. Beginning with a roll call of all of the current organization members in attendance, the ceremony then goes on to honor scouts who have passed on into eternity. Especially honored are the founders and pillars of the Russian scouting movement, those who suffered or were killed for their scouting work, and those who dedicated their day-to-day lives to the organization.
The weekend began with the All-Night Vigil on Saturday evening at St. George’s Chapel, served by the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York. His Eminence was co-served by diocesan chancellor Archpriest Serge Lukianov, the camp’s spiritual director, Archpriest Yaroslav Belikow, Protodeacons Andrej Strapko (cleric of Protection of the Mother of God Church in Rochester, NY) and Sergei Shoomiloff (cleric of Our Lady of Kazan Church in Newark, NJ), and Deacon Andrew Podymow (cleric of Holy Virgin Protection Church in Nyack, NY).
Both before and during Vigil, all of the scouts and counselors – as well as many of the parents, alumni, and guests visiting for the weekend – confessed their sins. Dinner followed Vigil, after which the DPV ceremony began on the camp’s parade grounds. The camp was called into formation, and following the entrance of the Color Guard, twelve torches were lit, each representing one of the Twelve Points of the Scout Law. Roll call for the living and the dead commenced, and upon its conclusion, Fr. Yaroslav served a panihida for the departed. The Russian, American, and St. Andrew’s flags were lowered, and the ceremony concluded.
Everyone proceeded to a solemn bonfire, where patriotic and scouting songs were sung. Metropolitan Hilarion, Fr. Serge, SGPA Head Scoutmaster Natalia Konon, Chapter director Nicholas N. Pokrovsky, and others shared thoughts with campers regarding those who had left for the world to come, and about the meaning of service and sacrifice, about Russia and lifelong friendship. A special bonfire was held afterward for senior campers choosing to renew their vows of service to the organization and join the auxiliary Krug ("Circle").
The following morning, Metropolitan Hilarion celebrated Divine Liturgy in St. George’s Chapel, co-served by the above-mentioned clergy. In his sermon, he spoke, in part, about the Gospel reading of the healing of two blind men by the Savior, and about how important it is for us to pray for one another.
After breakfast, the flag-raising ceremony was held on the parade grounds, during which camp counselors were relieved of their weekly shifts and handed over leadership to the next week’s replacements. Campers who achieved certain scouting accomplishments during the week were honored. After a group photo, campers were able to leave camp for several hours with their parents, before returning in the evening. Everyone then went back to their camps and preparing for the annual pilgrimage to Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, which took place on Tuesday morning, marking the centennial of the martyric deaths of the Holy Royal Passionbearers.