This year we have had the grace of being able to have two summer camps for girls in Guayaquil.
The camps took place on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in a beautiful place where we could see pelicans taking flight, crabs racing along the shore, albatrosses, starfish, and once in a while you could see the fishermen pushing their boats out to sea dragging their nets behind them, an image that made us think of many Gospel passages.
At the first camp we had 115 girls and in the second 140. Both camps, although they were different, were very fruitful. You could see a big change in the girls. As always, we knew that it was our Blessed Mother leading the camp and that she was going to take care of everything. And that is exactly what happened.
Our theme for this year was “Say yes to the Lord who speaks” and our protector saints were the three Shepherd children of Fatima. Everything revolved around the teachings that we can learn from these young saints and the saints' lives really impressed the girls and helped them a lot. We talked about the spirituality and the message of Fatima. We introduced the girls to each of the Shepherd children along with a few other saints who are also models for young people: Pier Giorgio Frassati, St. Dominic Savio, and we couldn’t forget Sr. Clare. Some of the girls at the camp knew Sr. Clare and were able to give very impressive testimonies about her. We also had the great privilege of seeing the movie of Sr. Clare. The movie was a real turning point in the camp. It helped us so much!
The girls had a great time doing many activities: playing sports, singing, dancing, running...but what caused them to truly change was the time spent before Jesus in the Eucharist, with our Blessed Mother. This was the push that helped the girls grow in so many virtues that they might not have otherwise ever practiced. There were many moments that were very simple, where we noticed the presence of our Blessed Mother in a special way. One of those moments was in a game that we did about our Lady of Fatima in which the girls had to find the crown of Our Lady and crown her. It was a moment of great joy to see all the girls singing around our Lady.
We took a day trip and visited the Shrine in Olón, a shrine that is made like a ship in the rocks overlooking the immense ocean. There is a statue there of Our Lady that cried drops of blood many years ago. We were able to have time of prayer and we asked our Lady why she cried. One of the girls had the experience at the shrine of Our Lady looking into her heart. She had never experienced anything like that before.
We also went on a hike. During the hike, we walked through rivers and through the tropical jungle, we heard parrots in the trees and saw monkeys swing over our heads making funny faces at us. The girls were worn out from the hike, every muscle in their body was sore, but everyone was happy with the effort they had made during the trek. Some thought they weren’t going to be able to make it, but they did.
During the camp, we built a huge rosary made out of balloons that we brought down to the beach. We prayed for the 5 continents in Portuguese, French, Italian, English and of course Spanish. And once again we could feel the presence of Our Lady.
If we had to sum up our summer camp experience, we could say that our Blessed Mother has been with us through it all and we are happy because of that! Let us give thanks to God for this wonderful experience.