Hello families of Nativity!
Recently, June 19-24, about 25 of our middle and high schoolers from Nativity of Mary were at Catholic Youth Summer Camp. They were joined by about 100 youth from a large parish and a number of youth who were able to come from places around the diocese.
All reports from the kids are that they had an excellent time! The camp was 6 days, from Sunday to Friday, and included lots of activities and a strategically designed program to show the campers the beauty and excitingness of God.
In past years, our kids have gone to Extreme Faith Camp. You may have also heard of Catholic Youth Camp. Catholic Youth Summer Camp is different from both, but is in the model of EFC. The primary difference is this: CYSC is put on by a team of staff and missionaries who are at the campground the entire summer, whereas EFC was entirely constructed by parishes. Its origins are in Ohio, where they have about 5,000 campers a summer! It’s rapidly growing up here, and they expect about 1,500 kids in 2023–due to space constraints this summer, the number is about half that this year.
The presence of staff and missionaries over the entire summer allows for two things: First, a more consistent and fine-tuned presentation of the material. The skits, talks, games, and small groups are put together by people who spend at least their summer and often the whole year doing this kind of thing! Second, it allows for a higher number of missionaries, all of whom are college-aged or just a bit older. This means the energy level is off the charts! This makes it a great fit for middle schoolers.
The first few days were filled with introductions to new friends and counselors, lake time, archery tag, a rock wall, baking unleavened bread (a surprising highlight for many!), and getting used to praying with Scripture through Lectio Divina, the practice of praying slowly with the Bible. By Wednesday, the campers were also going to confession, getting used to silent adoration, and worshiping God through praise music. My personal highlight of the week was that evening–we had a long Eucharistic procession through the campground, interspersed with monologues by seven saints: St. Tarcisius, Blessed Imelda, Blessed Carlo Acutis, St. John Vianney, St. Clare of Assisi, St. John, and Our Lady of Fatima! It ended with individual Benediction (blessing with the Blessed Sacrament) of every person at camp.
By Thursday and Friday, the kids were pumped up by both the Color War games (reminiscent of the Houses at our school with 4 teams vying for a prize) and by Mass and praise. I loved seeing how our campers grew a ton in their faith in ways that are both exciting and special (saint monologues and praise music) but also in ways that we have here at the parish (silent adoration and Mass).
Here’s what you can do to help them out: If you meet a young person who went to camp, ask them about it! They may need reminders as they return to their friends and games. A great way to do that is to be an example of prayer yourself: by loving God with your whole mind, heart, and strength, and by finding ways to bring Christ to others in your life, you can show our youth what it means to integrate their rejuvenated faith into daily life. Lastly, spread the word about Catholic Youth Summer Camp! We would love to have an even bigger group next year, and encouraging those on the fence combined with scholarship support (it’s a bit pricey at $495 per camper) will help make that a reality. CYSC is as effective as it can be when the kids have a community to pray and have fun with, and having more people going to camp means more people back at the parish to share memories, dreams, and plans with!
Please enjoy some of these pictures of camp! The students in the photos will remain unnamed, but ask around at Sunday Mass and you will find some of our young disciples.