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Associations

AHEPA Knows: You Make Greeks by Helping People Love Greece

ATHENS – Demetrios Moutousis, President of Chapter HJ 25 Saint Andrew – Achaia, and his AHEPA Hellas brothers and sisters, motivated by the great AHEPA ideals of the protection and preservation of Hellenism, personal excellence, education, family values, and civic responsibility, has launched a noble endeavor: to establish new summer camps in the homeland for the children of the Diaspora.

“As AHEPA Achaia, we began to think about developing a program of Excellence and Hospitality for children of the Hellenic Diaspora in order to promote Hellenic values  as well as Greece and Cyprus more widely. We have named it Academy of Hellenism – Return to Our Roots.”

The Academy is already a National Project of AHEPA Hellas and has the support of AHEPA in North America.

“We want to help young people to be inspired by Hellenic values, to learn about Greek history and folk traditions, the principles of the Olympic movement, and more generally, to develop not only their knowledge but their character,” he told The National Herald.

“Our vision is for children of Greek descent – but also of Philhellenes, who are a vital part of modern Hellenism” –  to draw closer to their physical and spiritual roots. Moutousis believes “we must also honor and reach out to those who are Hellenes by choice by establishing a process where Philhellenes can discover and develop more and more aspects of Hellenism and its traditions, driven by their love for Greece.”

At the heart of the endeavor, however, is helping children of Greek descent discover and cultivate their Greek roots, but Moutousis also believes that by promoting Hellenism, they will also “be helping to raise good citizens of the world, with Ethos, Creativity, with love for their fellow humans and Nature, and respect for people with different points of view.”

At the core of their efforts is the development of a network of academics, Greeks and non-Greeks, who are inspired by Aristotle’s principles of general education, which includes the study of Nature, self-knowledge that promotes well-being, and athletic exercise.

The ideas were recently presented at an event in the archaeological space of ancient Olympia that he said was live streamed to 50,000 people all over the world.

The program featured musical performances and speeches by the Regional Governor of Western Greece Nektarios Farmakis, Deputy Foreign Minister with responsibility for Greeks Abroad Konstantinos Vlasis, the General Secretary for Greeks Abroad John Chrysoulakis, educators, and hierarchs of the Church of Greece.

Moutousis’ timetable was set back by the pandemic, but the target for the first summer camp session is now for summer of 2022 at Loutraki, not far from Athens. Funding has been secured which will be supplemented by the registration fees for the children.

The initial camp at Loutraki will be held at privately owned facilities that have been operating for 40 years. Information can be found on its website sportcampkids.gr.

Parents will have the option to vacation near their kids through an agreement with the nearby Wyndham Loutraki hotel.

BIG PLANS FOR THE PRESENT, BIGGER ONES FOR THE FUTURE

The program currently has room for up to 900 children per season – they plan to also include children from Greece as part of their goal of also strengthening ties between Greece and the Diaspora. Greek children can learn about America and values vital for Greece’s future like entrepreneurship and civic responsibility.

The program currently plans two-week sessions, but they can easily be expanded to three.

Eventually, they hope, through crowdfunding and other global fundraising efforts, to establish camps in other parts of Greece. At Achaias-Olympias an unused camping facility has been identified as a potential permanent site and they are aslo exploring having camps in Crete and Chalkidiki, covering much of the historical space of Greece.

Moutousis explained that they see their project complementing, not competing with the Ionian Village of the Archdiocese of America, adding, “we aim to produce ambassadors for Greece and Hellenism all over the world.”

The vision is for the children to partake in experiential learning, through presentations at the very historical sites at the heart of Hellenism.

The activities include excursions to places like Mycenae, Epidavros, and Nemea. Of course, they will also visit the Acropolis in Athens, Delphi, and Olympia.

It is interesting to note that among those the founders are cooperating with is the municipality of Famagusta in Cyprus.

For more information, readers may contact Moutousis at [email protected].

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