From August 24–29, 2023, the annual National Health Camp was held on the southern Black Sea coast, organized by the Health Department of the Bulgarian Union of Churches. The camp was attended by nearly 90 people, who took part in lectures and workshops on how to be useful to themselves and others.
"A lot of people think that to be helpful, they have to be healthy. This is not true. When we are beneficial to society, it makes us healthy. We included three aspects: how to be helpful to ourselves, how to be helpful to our loved ones, and how to be beneficial to society in the form of volunteering. If at least one person manages to apply [them] after the camp, we will be happy," says Dr. Plamena Stoimenova, Health director for the union and organizer of the camp.
The new thing this year was the holding of joint events for both families with children and adults. The lectures covered topics such as “How Life Changes the Brain or the Aging Brain,” “Neurobiology of Depression,” “Addictions and the Brain,” “Screen Addiction in Adults and Children,” “Childhood Illnesses,” and “Childhood Emergencies”; these were followed by practical activities. The leading speakers were Dr. Gergana Geshanova, a specialist in preventive medicine; Dr. Stoyan Stoimenov, a general practitioner; Stefan Stefanov, a pastor with an interest in psychology; Dr. Georgi Bukov, a pediatrician; and other specialists in the field of health topics.
"Parents very often think that health topics are very difficult and complicated for children. But in fact, if we start educating them on these topics from an early age, it will be much easier for them to create the right habits, and these lessons can be made available to the smallest ones as well," says Anastasia Genova, a nurse and the organizer of children's health activities. The purpose of the children's activities was to teach them how to take care of their health and present different game ideas to help parents.
Participants shared that many of the topics were new to them or built on knowledge they already had. "The topic of emotional intelligence was the most interesting for me. I have been interested in this topic for several years. Also, how to invest in our health, because our body is a temple of God's Holy Spirit, and the two are connected," says Neli Stoykova, from Varna. The participants had time to socialize with each other, which, according to feedback, created a nice, positive atmosphere for everyone.
Outdoor sports were an invariable part of the program for both young and old. Dr. Geshanova emphasized the importance of physical activity in order to have a healthy, fully functioning body. "I want the participants to remember that many things in our lives depend on our lifestyle, on the choices we make, on our cooperation with God. The key to a healthier and more fulfilling life is trusting God. What He teaches us is the real thing; follow it, and you will be happy," she adds.
The organizers of the Health Camp showed that health topics can be interesting, fun, and for everyone. No matter what age one may be, health is a vital issue, and people must constantly educate and take care of themselves.
"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, NKJV).