This year, the HMY masculine branch held their summer camp in Spain with a group of 67 boys between the ages of 8 and 15. Helping in the camp were 4 group leaders, 4 cooks, a priest friend of ours, Fr. Higinio, and 7 Servant Priests and Brothers. The facilities for the camp were great! We had at our disposal a pool, soccer fields, basketball courts, a large dining hall with a stage, and a multi-adventure park. We also had small cabins to sleep in and one of them we turned into a chapel.
At the sound of the whistle, the boys ran from one activity to another: the morning offering to Jesus and Mary, breakfast, Adoration, swimming, making rosaries, playing soccer, Mass, dinner, games, a meditation before bed, etc. For many of the boys it was their first time in an HM summer camp, but it did not take them long to integrate into the group and be the first ones to line up or to participate in the games and other activities. All of the boys were full of life and enthusiasm, excited to participate wholeheartedly in the family-like environment of the camp. We would especially like to thank the cooks (lay members of the Home of the Mother). This year the food was a complete success, all of the boys commented on how good the meals were! This surely helped the boys live everything with a greater intensity..
The first couple of days the different teams took turns using the soccer field, the pool and the basketball court. We had two days of rain that prevented us from being able to go outside. We took advantage of the time to see back-to-back episodes of Catholic Stuff, Fr. Luke gave a harmonica concert, there were skits, testimonies, trivia games etc. When the sun finally came back out we went on a hike, singing as we went up the mountain. In spite of the heat, it was a beautiful day that brought the boys closer together and helped them to open up to their group leaders and the Servant Brothers. On another day the older boys did another, more difficult hike and they spent the night on the mountain, creating their own refuge and building their own fire. They had Mass the next day on the peak of the mountain. The smaller boys stayed behind in the camp site and went to the river for a swim.
At the beginning of each day we had Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. At first it was hard for some boys to concentrate during this time of prayer, but as the camp went on it got easier and easier for them to pray and many ended up having very deep experiences before our Lord in the Eucharist. One boy said that he had felt a caress from our Lord during prayer and another realized how it was God’s will for him to be there in camp. In the afternoon we had Mass and all the boys attended wearing their camp T-shirts. Many wanted to be altar servers and help in any way that they could during the liturgy: reading, lighting the candles, holding the microphone, etc. The boys also had the opportunity to go to confession and at the end of camp many mentioned that this experience had helped them grow in their faith. One of the priests said that this had been one of the best camps that he had been to because of all the spiritual fruits that had been received. And we certainly received many graces during camp, and now time will tell if each one knows how to take advantage of all he received.
Since we are in the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Fatima, our theme was “TRIUMPH” (“My Immaculate Heart with triumph.”) We spoke and reflected on the messages that our Lady gave to the three shepherd children in the Cova de Iria in Fatima. Our Lady helped many boys to overcome themselves in many different ways. One boy, for example, did not like to play soccer, but he was able to forget about himself and overcome that in order to be with the group. Others did not get discouraged when they lost a game, but they kept on smiling and were good sports about it. One boy wanted to go home, but he decided to stay because he realized that it was a temptation from the devil. It was also comical to see how one team that was named “Immaculate Heart” always won the same game over and over again.
The last days of camp we spent doing other physical activities. One day we went to a “Multi-adventure” park. All of the boys had the chance to climb the trees, well tied to their harnesses of course, and climb over a wall. It was fun to see the littlest ones zip lining! We also made piñatas and had marathons. On the last night, after dinner, we had skits and we saw videos from the week of camp. Different prizes were handed out and everybody got some candy. In the morning the boys headed back on the bus to Madrid, remembering all of the things that they had done during the week. For a few boys this was their 5th HM summer camp and they said that they are already planning on coming back for next year’s camp.
May our Lord and our Lady help these boys to continue on faithfully with the Christian commitments in the Home of the Mother.