Water used to be the only fluid I needed to get me through the day. Then I went to Ionian Village and realized I needed something stronger than water. I needed a Greek frappe. All day, every day.
Ionian Village is a summer camp in Bartholomio, Greece that brings together over 40 staff members and hundreds of teen campers from across the United States, giving them an experience of a lifetime. Ionian Village strengthens faith, teaches Greek culture, creates epic memories, and even supplies coffee. I was a camper in 2008 and a staff member in back-to-back summers of 2013 and 2014. Serving as a staff member gave me the best experiences of all. It’s also when I drank the most frappes in my life.
Staff members work two 20 day sessions from June to August. There are a lot of late nights and early mornings because it’s always on the go time. Half the time is spent on the camp grounds at the chapel, eating Kyria Sophia’s delicious Greek food or participating in fun activities like junkyard wars, music fests, and themed dance parties. On travel days, the chapel bell (aka the camps alarm clock) rings before the sun is up. Buses take everyone to historic sites like ancient Olympia and the Acropolis. Ferries take campers and staff to various islands, such as Aegina, Zakynthos, and Kefalonia. My favorite trip was to the island of Kefalonia, where we were able to venerate the relics of St. Gerassimos, a walking saint and the patron saint of the island.
Although it seems like a jam packed 20 days for one session, it wouldn’t be the best summer of so many lives if the days were spent sleeping. The campers do get a good amount of sleep though. It’s the staff members that don’t. Or maybe that was just me because I have serious FOMO (fear of missing out) of anything.
Many nights after the campers go to sleep, staff members stroll to the staff lounge. Late-night lounging was our time to catch up, plan the next days activities (or replanning the Olympic games entirely), play tavli, or eat pagoto (ice cream). I would’ve pulled all nighters if Father Evagoras (the director of Ionian Village) allowed it. But the late night staff owls were always sent to bed too. A good nights sleep was four hours. That’s where the frappes came in handy.
Frappes are essentially liquid energy. They’re a foamy iced coffee that only requires three ingredients: sugar, instant coffee (Nescafe is most commonly used), and water. There are three basic ways to serve a frappe: sketos (unsweetened), metrios (semi-sweet), and glykos (extra sweet). You can also order your frappe with a splash of milk by saying “me gala” (with milk) and of course ending with “parakalo” (thank you). Because manners. I like my frappe served metrios me gala (semi-sweet with milk) or sketos me gala (unsweetened with milk). I don’t have enough hair on my chest to go straight up sketos yet. I need a little bit of sweetness in my frappe.
Whatever way you take your frappe, drink it slowly over a long period of time—unlike Ionian Village campers. They always drank it wrong. When it was a camp travel day, we would stop at cafenios and treat the campers to frappes. I’m not sure if it was the heat or the excitement of having a frappe, but every camper would slurp down their frappes like it was a milkshake. Relax and sip slow.
I still enjoy a frothy frappe, especially in the summer. Each sip takes me back to Ionian Village and all the amazing memories and lifetime friendships I made there. Through all those long days of camp in the hot Grecian sun, I never wish I had gotten more sleep. Witnessing campers strengthen their faith, drop their cool cards and truly be themselves, and smile all summer long is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and worth every minute of lost sleep. I would do it all over again—as long as there’s a steady supply of Greek frappes.
What you need:
-2 teaspoons Nescafe classic coffee (or instant coffee if you don’t have Nescafe)
-4 to 5 ice cubes
-A tall glass
-Handheld frappe mixer*
*If you don’t have a handheld mixer:
-Use an electric blender and blend for 20-30 seconds or use a container and seal and shake vigorously for 30 seconds or until a foam develops. Then transfer the foam into your glass. Pour water into the container and swish around to be sure to get all the foam.
1. In your glass, add two teaspoons of Nescafe. Add the appropriate amount of sugar for the type of coffee you prefer:
-sketos is unsweetened (no sugar)
-metrios is semi sweet (1-2 teaspoons of sugar)
-glykos is extra sweet (2 or more teaspoons of sugar)
2. Add one tablespoon of water to the glass to slightly cover the Nescafe and sugar.
3. Using your handheld mixer, mix around for about 20 seconds or until foam forms. Add the ice cubes and more water until the glass is filled to the top. Stir around with a straw.
4. Serve immediately with a glass of cold water on the side and enjoy!
-Milk (add a splash to the top after the water has been all the way added)
-Bailey’s or Kahlua (add a splash or two to the top after the water has been all the way added)
-Vanilla ice cream (add a scoop before you fill the water all the way to the top)