Il “Vesseli kanikuly” project (translation: Holidays spent in cheerfulness) is based on the example of the Kids’ Summer project from 1991 in Lviv where Salesians and the Salesian Sisters from the Salesian Mother of God Parish work together. This Salesian activity was well-received by the people and the local Greek-Catholic Church because it offered something new by way of healthy, happy entertainment and apostolate after the period of “communist slavery”. It offered something for children and youth based on Don Bosco’s example of educating ‘good Christians and honest citizens’.
The formation and preparation of leaders ready to give up much of their own summer holidays each day to help youngsters 7-15 years old has been of great help. It has helped the kids to have happy holidays and to grow spiritually.
It has also been good to see that, with a growth in the number of confreres, the activities of “Vesseli kanikuly” is reaching a much greater number of youngsters and has grown beyond the Salesian parish confines and even beyond Lviv itself. In 2001 around 1000 youngsters took part, while in 2004 this had become 2700 spread over 13 different camps.
Each camp runs for 1 or 2 weeks and has a theme which develops day by day. Each day’s organisation is aimed at this. It includes a presentation of the day’s theme, songs and other items chosen specifically for that, and the children learn them to remind them of the theme. Then they are divided into groups of 20-30 led by leaders. Games, picnic lunches, catechesis and brief moments of prayer are all done in groups. Then there is a combined game for the youngsters and the camp-helpers. At day’s end, there is a group tournament consisting of “question-answer” on the day’s theme or catechesis to remind them of the main ideas dealt with. It is important to emphasise that the camps are not just a social event but essentially to educate to faith.
This year the activities in “Vesseli kanikuly” took up the theme prominent for the universal Church, namely the Eucharist, “Jesus will always be with us, each day, till the end of the world”. It certainly emphasises unity and collaboration, as Don Bosco wanted, between Salesians, Salesian Sisters, leaders and a number of Cooperators.
The aim of VK is to bring together young people who do not have a chance for a seaside holiday or anywhere else in the Ukraine for that matter. It also offers them a time for spiritual and human growth.
The project is organised by the Delegation community, especially by the Mary Help of Christians Salesian community in Lviv, with its Rector Fr Eugen Nebesniak. It is for youngsters beetween 7-15 years of age. Numbers involved are estimated to be 1700 - 2500. All the confreres in formation outside the Delegation (20) take part as well as the Mary Help Of Christians community members from Lviv, and the prenovices and aspirants. The number of lay people involved, especially as leaders, is around 100.