Sophomore keeps family’s Serbian Orthodox Camp tradition alive

It was the last night of sophomore George Cvetich’s two-week stay at Camp St. Sava. People were trying to Saran-wrap Cvetich to his bed, while others were playing practical jokes with shaving cream and baby powder.

Despite sleeping only one hour, it was a lot of fun to stay up after the  weekly Friday dance, Cvetich said.

At St. Sava, Cvetich continues the legacy of his father and siblings, who all attended the Serbian Orthodox camp and later became counselors.

“It’s a family tradition.  My family’s been going there forever—for two generations,” Cvetich said.

Located in Jackson, Calif., the camp is held in July and August. There are three one-week sessions, each directed by different counselors.

A religious service, referred to as Matins, is celebrated every morning. And the priests lead Topic Discussion classes, where various lifestyle issues are addressed.

George Cvetich, second from right in top row, with his campmates in 2012 (Photo courtesy of Cvetich)
George Cvetich,  second from right, with his campmates at Camp St. Sava in 2006 (Photo courtesy of Cvetich)

There are also singing classes, along with instruction in kolo, traditional Serbian folk dancing.

“(Kolo) comes really easily to me,” said Cvetich. “It’s cool to experience with different forms of art.”

Though some of the campers can speak Serbian, the predominant language is English.

The meals at Camp St. Sava are a mix of traditional Serbian dishes and American foods. Cevaps, little sausages made of pork, beef, and lamb are often served.  Also on the menu are pies, called pitas, made from phyllo dough and filled with a  mixture of different cheeses.

“Eating the food reminds me of my grandfather because he was the most influential in the building of my Serbian culture,” Cvetich said.

The campers have down time to play basketball and soccer and swim. There is also one side trip per session. Cvetich went to the Lodi Zoo the first week and spent a day at the lake the second, where he and his friends had a good time swimming and joking with each other.

Aside from the weekly dances, there is a talent show—attended by the parents—when students perform the Serbian kolo dances they learned.

This summer, Cvetich attended the annual Fourth of July celebration with a Serbian band, plenty of dancing and camaraderie.  His dad and three of his siblings (Michael, ‘05;  Kristina, ‘06; and Brigit, ‘10) also came to the party.

Cvetich met his best friend, Jovan Jurkovic, at the camp a few years ago, and the two have since become very close.  Jurkovic lives in Cupertino.

“Whenever I think about camp, I get really sad, but when I think about next year, I get excited to see all my friends, especially Jovan,” said Cvetich.

“I only see them once or twice a year, and it is one of the best parts of my year.”

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