YOCAMA Mission Service Trip

Thank you to everyone who helped support this year’s Mission Trip to Montana. This year the Metropolis of Boston group consisted of ten high school participants from around the Metropolis and two adult leaders. We teamed up with the St. Vasilios parish and traveled together to Chicago. Once we arrived in Chicago we met up with the rest of our mission group and traveled to Montana by train. This 36 hour train ride gave all of the participants a chance to meet each other and get to know each other before beginning the work at the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

The participants were broken up into different work teams that they would stay with for the whole week. All of the teams rotated throughout the different job sites every day. At one of the sites the participants repainted the exterior of an entire church that had been damaged and worn by the harsh weather conditions that Montana experiences. The groups traveled about an hour to the second work site where they cleaned up a park that has been built and maintained by YOCAMA for the past 7 years. New swings were added to the park for the native children to use. The playground was also updated with new wooden posts to ensure the safety of the children playing on it. The third work site gave the participants an opportunity to interact with the Blackfeet children and play games with them. The surrounding schools provide lunch for the children every day. The participants had the chance to eat lunch with the children, color pictures, make friendship bracelets, and play outside with chalk and bubbles. The children were so thankful that there were teenagers who actually cared and wanted to play with them.

The participants had the opportunity to explore the beauty of Montana a few different times. There were different opportunities for hiking and also many opportunities to interact with the natives and learn about their culture. Many of the Metropolis participants have expressed interest in participating in the Mission Trip again next year! This was an experience we all will never forget!

Below you can find reflections from a few of our students who participated in the trip this year! Please enjoy some of the photos from our trip by clicking here!

Gabriella Goodwin - Andover, MA

Coming into this trip, I had no idea what I would find on the other side of the country in Montana. I had gone to the Metropolis summer camp for 6 years and knew both of the staff members but I only knew one other teenager. All I wanted was to change at least one live during my work. As soon as I met the group from Boston at Logan Airport at 6 am in the morning, I was already connecting to almost every kid. I am so glad that every single kid on this trip was so friendly and open, I miss everyone every day. After just 8 days there, YOCAMA and Montana were my home and I didn’t want to leave.

Not only did I fall in love with the amazing views in Montana, but I also came to love playing with children during trip. I have not always been the best with children; I consider myself a bit of an old soul and connect more with older people. However when I started playing with these kids who came from broken families, everything seemed to fall together. The way some of these kids looked, beaten and lonely, and their faces would all of a sudden light up whenever we came to see them. They loved riding on our backs and also pretending to arrest us and put us in jail. It was heartbreaking to see some of the places around the Blackfeet Native Reservation and also some of the people and how they lived. The site that left the biggest effect on me was a playground in Heart Butte, Montana. We weeded, cleaned up and then built new slides, swings, and wooden boards into the playground. I was in charge of drilling and placing new and safer boards into the playground. The kids wanted to help out and I taught them how to place each screw and make sure everything was straight. They loved helping out, I could tell that they wanted to leave their own mark on the new structure.

I actually wrote my college essay on what I learned from this trip. I wrote about the struggle to overcome the anger and sadness after seeing the vandalism on the playground we built because although it felt like we failed after first seeing it, I realized that it wasn’t the physical structure that represented our work there. I learned that we don’t always get exactly what we work for, but somehow and at some point our hard work will pay off in a way we never imagined. Every time I think about the mark YOCAMA left on the community this summer, I think of the children and how THEY changed. Not only did I and the rest of the group change, but so did some of those children.

Any teenager reading this reflection right now that is wondering whether or not they should come on a trip with YOCAMA should definitely decide “YES!” You do! It was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I will be doing something like this again next year. My faith grew a little stronger and I’ve become a little more thankful. I was so happy to represent my parish on this trip and I can’t wait to tell my kids at GOYA all about it. Nothing feels better than to make my family, friends, and priest proud for the work I did. I will also never forget the bonds and fun times/laughs I had on the trip.

John Cox - Portland, ME

The Montana mission trip was a wonderful experience.  I felt like we did a lot of work and it was much appreciated by the Blackfeet community.  I chose to go on this trip for many reasons.  I wanted to see different parts of the country but I also wanted to serve others who are in need.   

I really enjoyed playing with the Blackfeet children.  They seemed to really enjoy the playground and especially liked the new slide that we put in.  The kids would play all day and they loved having our group play with them.  Once it was time to leave at the end of the day, none of the kids wanted us to leave.

I also loved meeting the other kids in our group!  I started the week not knowing anybody and by the end of the week I had developed relationships with each of my new friends.  We created special memories that will be cherished and never forgotten.

Alexi Frongillo - Mansfield, MA

My experience going to Blackfeet Country, Montana felt more like a journey than just a trip.  Along the way I met many new friends from all kinds of places, backgrounds, and personalities, but in the end we all shared one common goal: to serve those who are less fortunate.  We all took a long but scenic train ride from Chicago to East Glacier, Montana—from urban jungle to rolling plains and mountains.

We stayed at De La Salle Blackfeet School where we learned about some of the history of Blackfeet Native Americans and met some of the locals.  Soon enough we were out working and trying to help the natives.  We painted a Church, played with Blackfeet children, and built a slide and swings at a local playground.  We really were able to interact with Blackfeet kids while working on the playground that we had constructed in previous years.  To me, bringing joy to these children who came from such impoverished households and seeing the smiles on their faces was truthfully one of the greatest experiences have ever had.  It is a great feeling to know that you have been able to touch someone’s life.

I strengthened my faith as a Greek Orthodox Christian during my week in Montana through these wonderful experiences along with spiritual services led by Father Chris from Massachusetts.  My journey to Blackfeet Country has really helped me to take a step back from my life and realize how truly fortunate I am. Sometimes we get so tied up in our everyday lives that we forget about our universal mission as Christians.

2014 Youth Service Trip to Montana

Dates: July 18 - 26
Cost: $1,200.00

More Details Below:

Location: Montana - Blackfeet Native American Reservation

Contact:  Eleni Kalioras - Youth and Young Adult Office
Voice: (617) 277-4742
Email: ekalioras@boston.goarch.org


2014 YOCAMA Application  CLICK HERE

Please mail your application to:
Metropolis of Boston Service Mission Trip 2014
162 Goddard Avenue
Brookline, MA 02445
2014 YOCAMA Mission Trip Info
2014 YOCAMA Trip Overview
2014 YOCAMA Donation Letter
2014 Donation Response
2014 Clergy Reference Form (Adult Leaders ONLY)
Can't come but want to be apart of our team? Call 617-277-4742 to donate electronically
or mail donations to 162 Goddard Ave. Brookline, MA 02445.


2014 Youth Service Trip to Montana

July 18-26, 2014

About Our Team

The Metropolis of Boston sent a group of 16 people on their first trip to Montana in the summer of 2012 through a group known as YOCAMA (Young Orthodox American Missions Adventures). That trip had such a positive impact upon our teens (and adults), the Metropolis is organizing another group to travel with YOCAMA to New Mexico in 2013. We are returning to Montana this year for another wonderful experience.

Our Team, made up primarily of high school teens from throughout our Metropolis, along with their adult chaperones, willingly donate one week of their summer vacations to help people living in poverty. This trip has provided very unique, personal experiences for our teens as well as memories and lessons that will remain for a lifetime.


Who is YOCAMA?

YOCAMA stands for Young Orthodox American Missions Adventures. With the Blessings of Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh, YOCAMA’s mission is to serve people living in poverty throughout America and provide our Orthodox Christian youth opportunities to share the love of Jesus Christ through good works and learn more about the Orthodox Christian Faith and deepen their love for our Savior Jesus Christ. YOCAMA hosts two trips each summer to serve people living in poverty - one to Montana to serve the people on the Blackfeet Reservation and one to New Mexico to serve the people on the Navajo Reservation. YOCAMA is under the direction of Ann Salvator and is based in Ohio.

When will we be traveling? Who will we be serving this summer?

The dates of our trip are July 18-26, 2014 and we will be traveling to Montana to serve the people of the Blackfeet Native American Reservation.


What kind of work will we be doing?

At this time we have not yet received our assignments for this trip but we can share with you the type of work that we have done in the past:

  • Build additional structures to Playgrounds
  • Renovate a Homeless Shelter
  • Serve lunches to school children
  • Participate in a summer recreation program with Blackfeet Youth

Typically there is a small medical team that travels with us that donate their services to providing basic hearing, sight, and dental exams to the children of the reservation. While those exams are being conducted, a team is assigned to playing games with the children while they wait.

What might a typical day look like on the trip?

Wake up followed by morning prayer and breakfast. Head out for the day with work until lunch time. Lunch is prepared in the morning and eaten on the worksites. Return to the dormitory for cleanup, downtime, dinner, group activities, and bedtime.

Divine Liturgy is celebrated during the week and a hike is planned towards the end of the week as well as time to shop.


How much does the trip cost?

The total cost per person is $1,200.00.

This fee includes: 

  • Roundtrip airfare from Boston to Chicago, IL
  • Roundtrip shuttle service from O’Hare Airport in Chicago to Union Station train station in Chicago
  • Roundtrip train tickets from Chicago to East Glacier, Montana
  • Building materials and tool fees
  • Lodging and food during the stay in Montana


Why does the team travel by train?

For two reasons: this is a very unique opportunity to travel cross-country by train; during the train ride from Chicago to Montana all of the team members will have time to get to know one another. By the time the group arrives in Montana everyone will be ready to be split up into teams the next morning and ready to work. 


Fundraising Opportunities

All team members are required to do their own personal fundraising.

  • A donation letter template and donation form template will be provided to you. Each team member is encouraged to personalize the letter and the donation form and mail them out.
  • Every team member has the ability to create a profile with our team’s RAZOO online giving account so that family and friends have a way to easily and securely make a donation online.
  • Team members have gotten creative with their personal fundraising. For example, you may wish to hold a yard sale or bottle and can drive in your neighborhood.

Registration Procedures and Due Dates

1      Registration fee of $150.00 and completed application form are due as soon as possible to reserve your spot. If there are any questions prior to submitting your application, please contact Eleni Kalioras at ekalioras@boston.goarch.org or at the Metropolis at (617) 277- 4742

2      $350.00 payment due by Monday, May 5

3      $350.00 payment due by Monday, June 9

4      Remaining $350.00 payment due by Friday, July 4


Contact Information
Eleni Kalioras – ekaliroas@boston.goarch.org

Frequently Asked Questions
Q; Why do participants travel by Train?
A: Train travel is more conduscive when your traveling with a group this size. Amtrak provides the ability for us to travel as a pack, therefore increasing safety, and to be sitting together. Typically, we get our own car. Additionally, the time on the train serves as a great opportunity for participants to get to know each other, much of the bonding and set up for the success of working together is established through this cross country ride.
Q: How long is the Train Ride?
A: Typically, about 36 hours
Q: Where do participants sit on the train?
A: Typically, we get our own car (or two) for all the YOCAMA Missionaries, thus participants don't have to worry about being loud and there is added safety of being all together.
Q: How do participants get from place to place?
A: Transportation has already been arranged via busses or vans to travel from place to place, whether it be; from the airport to train station, train station to hotel, hotel to Church, Church to lodging, or lodging to work sites.
Q: Who will be driving participants?
A: Guardians and Chaperones who are over the age of 25.
Q: Who will be leading this trip?
A: The director of the YOCAMA Organization is Ann Salvator who will be leading the trip overall. Additionally, the Metropolis of Boston will be sending 5 - 6 Young Adults who are active in our parishes and in our camp program to act as guardians/chaperones as well as team leaders. Their responsibility will be to not only look out for the health and well being of all the participants, but additionally to help keep the focus of the trip centered on the work, the people and God.
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