The Home of the Mother also held a summer camp in Italy this year! Since there are two communities of Servant Sisters very close together, Lumezzane in the province of Brescia and Brignano Gera D´Adda in the province of Bérgamo, we were able to come together for the occasion. 58 girls, 36 from Brignano and 22 from Lumezzane participated this year in the summer camp in Vilminore di Scalve, a wonderful place in the mountains of Bérgamo.
We began very excitedly in Brignano on Sunday July 22nd with the parish mass at 9:30 a.m. and from there we left by bus to Vilminore. It was the first experience of this type for the girls from Brignano, they´d never done anything similar; they were curious to learn what a summer camp is and excited to be away from home for a couple days in the mountains with their friends and the sisters. In general, the days leading up to the summer camp had been full of anticipation and excitement.
After some delicious sandwiches and a downpour of rain, we finally reached Lumezzane, so we could say that the summer camp had officially started.
The motto for the summer camp was ¨X-Treme Living¨, meaning life lived fully until the end, with the goal of teaching the girls that we only have one life and we have to be wise enough to live it, with all that that entails; not just surviving but living life to the fullest, leaving mediocrity to the side to live in holiness. Each day we presented a saint to the girls that they could relate to and that could be a model for them to live the various virtues we proposed. Truly, some of the girls were able to understand the importance of living this way; in the last meeting of the camp they agreed that it is worth it and when one lives in this way, as they had experienced during the camp, one is happier and more peaceful.
The place where the camp was held was very beautiful and this allowed us to do some really spectacular hikes. Even though we learned that you can´t trust the people who live in the mountains, because since they are used to the terrain, a short three hour hike, steep and all up-hill, is for them a walk in the park, a walk that they take several times each week. This is exactly what happened; we asked for advice from one of the local women who was used to the hikes, reminding her that it should be something easy, that little girls could do, and she explained to us a hike, assuring us that it would take us about an hour to hike it and that it was very easy. That little hike took us almost three hours, hiking uphill on a sttep incline, going through creeks and forests, climbing over huge rocks and all with a huge drop-off to one side….of course, a walk in the park!! We finally reached the top, more dead than alive, and more than once we´d thought that we weren´t going to make it, above all because we were hiking with some girls who were only 7 or 8 years old. But we made it. The top was beautiful and it was worth the effort. Afterwards, it was a great lesson for the girls about how life is as well, an up-hill hike that demands a lot of effort and, more importantly, to not turn back because the end is worth it.
In general all of the girls liked the experience, even though at the time, because they were so tired, they weren´t able to appreciate it much. For the next hike we tried to ensure that it was a little bit more doable. Even then though, what we thought would be a short and easy hike, on flat ground through the forest, turned out to be two hours of steep up´s and down´s, hard to classify as flat, but it was wonderful to be able to contemplate and enjoy nature.
The two groups of girls from Lumezzane and Brignano came together almost from the very beginning and this was a big grace. There was the risk that the two groups wouldn´t mix to form a single group, sticking to their friends and those they knew, but from the beginning there was a great connection which created strong friendships. We really enjoyed the games and sports, the night games in the town, the campfires, during which the girls brought out all their talents to make everyone else laugh, and we definitely laughed! We even visited a wildlife museum, with a lot of stuffed animals from all over the world, that we discovered in the town.
Each day we had a meeting with the girls, in which the always recognized that the they had discovered many new things. Also, for a great majority of the girls, things as simple as washing the dishes, cleaning the rooms or the bathrooms, were completely new to them. It was a true school of virtues.
There were also several girls who entered the Home as youth members, above all girls from Brignano who were very enthusiastic and, therefore, we hope that they are now able to take what they learned and transmit it to their friends and that the Home of the Mother can be organized here as well.
On Sunday, July 29th, we returned home with suitcases full of unorganized, dirty clothes but with hearts full of many beautiful experiences lived in the summer camp.