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John Patterson, with his wife, Kym, and their children, Christophr, 23, Bryceton, 22, Carrington, 15, Aidan, 8, and Kaydence, 4.
Local father of five John Patterson, and with his Ukranian business partner, Sergiy Loguynenko, wants to give Ukranian orphans a summer camp experience that will hopefully change their lives for the better. "Our camps show them the beautiful outdoors away from the city. They learn from playing. We teach them life lessons using different themes. Our goal is to provide both spiritual and physical leadership training for these children," John says. "We let them know that they are important to God."

John and his wife, Kym, became personally involved after sponsoring an Ukranian orphan, Carrington, for a three-week cultural exchange. At the end of his time in America, the Pattersons knew he was meant to be part of their family. They started the international adoption process, which would take nine months, of which they spent five weeks in country. While waiting for a court order, John had 10 days to spend in Ukraine where he didn't even speak the language. He went to the local orphanage and donated his time helping maintain the building including building cabinets. "I learned firsthand what they needed most was time spent with them. These camps say to these kids, 'We have time for you,'" John says.

Ukraine has hundreds of thousands of orphans of which only 10 percent are orphaned due to death of a parent; the rest are social orphans due to alcoholism, abandonment, or imprisonment of parents. Most of these social orphans grow up in state-run institutions that may house up to 200 children. When it's time to leave the orphanage, most of them have no life skills and end up in a life of crime and violence.

John and Sergiy, an international missionary, make the perfect team to facilitate these week-long summer camps that teach spiritual lessons as well as archery, fire starting, and repelling. Sergiy grew up in an orphanage and knows personally about these children's challenges and obstacles. John says, "When the kids look at me and say, 'You're an American, what do you know?'" Sergiy says, "I know! I am an orphan!'"

Currently, their summer camps are temporary sites made up of tents where they hike up into the mountains. John and Sergiy want to create a more permanent camp modeled after Yosemite Bible Camp (YBC). "We want to take the similar idea only adapt it for the Ukraine," Sergiy says.

John grew up attending YBC with his mother, a camp nurse. He also worked there as a camp counselor. And, for the past 20 years, he has been camp director for the Westside Church of Christ.

Sergiy has spent the past four months in America working on their business plan and learning more about American-run camps. "I have had so many new experiences. Every day, every minute is a big blessing. I will take all this information to include for my future ministry," Sergiy says.

If you would like to volunteer your time or donate money to these Ukrainian camps, please call John at 747-7204.

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