In last week’s blog, I wrote about my experience (and love) of going to church camp as a kid. I also mentioned how excited I was finding out that my own kids would be able to have that experience in a Catholic setting. Olivia — my sweet, pious 11-year-old — is fresh off of spending five nights away at Catholic Summer Youth Camp in our diocese.
As I’m on vacation getting ready to take my 5- and 9-year-old sons on a 3-day, 30-mile canoe trip with more than 100 other fathers and sons — and several priests whose presence, I hope, will keep us fathers from leaving a trail of misbehaving kids in the river — I am turning Confessions of a Catholic Dad into Confessions of a Catholic Daughter, as Olivia will be guest blogging for me this week.
Please share your own experiences of camp in the comments; I love to hear stories of camp traditions that I hope are continuing to live on. Mostly, pray for me as I spend two nights in a small tent and countless hours in a smaller canoe with two boys who love, above almost anything, it seems, to fight with each other. If you know the patron saint of mosquito bites, water safety and patience, that would be a great place to start.
Enjoy Olivia’s memories.
Last week at Catholic Youth Summer Camp, I learned a lot about my faith, from memorizing Scripture, to going to daily Mass, to learning about our vocations.
Our theme of the week was “Were not our hearts burning?” We memorized Luke 24:32 about the disciples’ walk to Emmaus. During the week, Dave and Jan Torma, the camp directors, encouraged us to walk seven miles just like the disciples did. Everyone took up the challenge. There was a trail at camp, and at the end of the trail was a tree God had formed into the shape of a cross. (One of the branches had been broken off, but it was still cool to look at.) At the tree, we would pray for a few minutes, then we’d walk back, and that would be one mile for the Emmaus walk. Some kids started running it, and many didn’t just go to Emmaus, they went another seven miles back to Jerusalem! (I’m not a big runner, so I just did the first seven miles.)
One night, four nuns from the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration came to visit us. They each told their vocation story about how they became religious sisters. Listening to their stories made me think about becoming a religious sister. [Editor’s note: Hurray!] They spent all evening with us; they did the Emmaus walk with us, and spent time telling stories and praying with us in the living room of the house we were staying in. After dinner, all the sisters played basketball with us, and they were all great at it! I was really surprised to hear that they play sports in the convent like softball and other games I like to play. While they were with us, they were all so kind and loving.
On Friday, Bishop Kevin Rhoades came to camp and said Mass for us. Then he stayed at the campground and we had a picnic lunch with him. Earlier in the week, we sanded and decorated our own drums. “A drum is just a decoration if you don’t know how to play it,” Mr. Torma said. So, we learned how to play a song on the drum, and we did a mini-concert for the bishop. I know the bishop is very busy, so he didn’t have time to stay long, but we were glad he at least got to come and spend a little time with us. (And I had him bless my scapular!)
During the week, I met so many new friends that I would have never made if I hadn’t gone to camp. Every day in our busy schedule, we would get 15 minutes of quiet time in the cabin. And in those 15 minutes, we would play card games and do each other’s hair. We really got to know one another. On the last day at camp, we all took a canoe trip to the other side of the lake. I went with two other girls from my cabin and had a great time! We all worked together so well. While two of us were rowing, the other would sing a song or just talk to keep each other company. It was great to just be together out on the beautiful lake and have so much fun together.
Every night we would have a campfire, and we would sit around and sing the songs we learned.
It was an amazing week. I really made memories that will last. Not only did the camp cause me to grow in friendship, but it also helped me grow in my faith.
Olivia Warden will soon be a sixth-grader. She is not on Twitter, though you can follow her dad @Scott_OSV.
For more of Scott's Confessions of a Catholic Dad, click here.