Boys Summer Camp in Florida and Georgia, July 19th-25th, 2015.
From July 19th to July 25th, the male branch of the Home of the Mother of the Youth had a summer camp for 8 to 13 year olds in Florida at Camp Kateri near Palatka, Florida. The camp was composed of two priests, two brothers, a lay adult, four counselors and 24 campers. This year´s theme was sanctity and the passion of Christ. The camp revolved around the subject of God´s call for us to become saints.
Every day the young people were presented with examples of sanctity, the saints. Saint Maximillian Kolbe, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Francisco Marto (Fatima), Saint Dominic Savio, Blessed Rolando Rivi, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, and Saint Francis Xavier. Each of these saints had a special phrase which was presented to the boys as the theme of the day. Saint Maximillian Kolbe was on fire with his desire to become a saint up to the point that he exclaimed, “I have to become a saint, the greatest possible.” Saint Francis of Assisi contemplated the greatness of God and said, “Tell me who You are, tell me who I am.” Blessed Francisco Marto, one of the three visionaries of Fatima, meditated on the passion and desired to console the heart of Christ. Blessed Rolando Rivi, an Italian seminarian who was martyred for his fidelity to his vocation, said “I have no fear. I am not afraid or worried. I cannot hide myself. I belong to the Lord.” Saint Dominic Savio, one of the first members of Saint John Bosco´s oratory, said “I have to become a saint, as soon as possible.” Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati encouraged the youth to seek true happiness which the world cannot offer. It is a happiness that comes from a purity of heart and mind. Finally, at the last day of camp, they were presented with Saint Francis Xavier and the phrase from the Gospel of Saint Luke, “I have come to set the world ablaze!” (12:49)
During our holy hours, the priests and brothers gave meditations on the passion of Christ to the campers. It is the passion of Christ that inflames the hearts of the youth with the desire for sanctity. The campers found themselves before the image of Christ Crucified and the Eucharist and each day, they meditated on one point of the passion. After the meditation, the whole camp prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. On Thursday, the camp organized a night time Eucharistic procession throughout the whole camp. The boys lined up with their torches, candles and flashlights and accompanied the Eucharist throughout the grounds.
However, HM summer camps aren´t just praying and processions. The boys had fishing, kayaking, swimming, sports, tug of war, an ironman competition, night games, capture the flag, bonfires etc. When the games are filled with charity and innocence, it helps the campers live the Christian life as true children of God. At the end of the camps, many campers have commented on their desire to attend daily mass and adoration.
From July 26th to August 2nd, the male branch of the Home of the Mother of Youth also took a hiking trip with a group of young men and the Servant Brothers to northern Georgia. After a six hour drive, the group arrived at their campsite at nightfall. The next day, we took our first hike up Yonah Moutain and enjoyed the view at the peak of the mountain. After a brief rest and throwing paper airplanes from the peak, the whole group got together and prayed a rosary while contemplating creation. On Tuesday, the group swam at nearby Helton Creek Falls. After a nice swim, the group was given the mission to catch fish. (This year we had no luck) The next day, we hiked down Tallulah Gorge and the 310 steps to reach Bridal Vail Falls. It is a gorgeous hike and swimming spot. The boys enjoyed sliding down the rock slide and swimming in the cold water after a hiking. The last full day of camp was dedicated to fishing, swimming in the river close to our campground and swinging off of a rope suspended over the river. In the afternoon, the boys were challenged with the ironman competition.
Before every excursion, there was always mass and adoration. At the end of each day, the camp came together around the campfire and talked about the spiritual life. These have been moments of grace for the whole camp. The boys opened themselves and made sincere questions about life, the faith, and their current situations. The campers themselves made reflections and advised each other on the spiritual life. The Servant Brothers encouraged them to tend towards sanctity, to exercise their liberty with responsibility, to seek the truth, and to live a true Christian life.
Now is the difficult part. These campers go home with a renewed desire for sanctity. However, they need many prayers so that they may be firm in their desires to follow and love Christ.