This year we were greatly surprised by the increase of boys that signed up for the HMY summer camp in Guayaquil. Last year we had 33 campers and this year we had 71! Thanks be to God we had a great group of guys who were the team leaders and this made it possible for us to be able to work with so many boys. There were more boys this year for camp because a lot of the boys were invited through the schools where the Servant Sisters are teaching; La Consolata and Matilde Amador. Many of the boys had to make a big effort to raise money in order to pay for the camp by selling raffle tickets.
Fr. Rafael gave us the theme for this year’s camp and it was “Say yes to God who speaks” and our patron saints were St. Francisco and St. Jacinta Marto, the shepherd children of Fatima. We had the camp in the same place as last year in the Triunfo, in a center called “A piece of heaven”.
The camp started on Sunday, April 8th on the Feast day of the Divine Mercy. We reached the campsite in the afternoon with two buses full of boys. For organization purposes, we organized the boys into 11 teams in honor of the 11 apostles who remained faithful to the Lord. We gave the boys their camp T-shirts and we had the opening Mass.
The next day, Monday, we had a penitential act with Fr. Dominic, Fr. Jose Xavier, and Fr. Joseph that lasted all morning. The boys took advantage of this time to make a good confession and start camp off on the right foot, with their souls in a state of grace.
During the week there was time for a wide variety of activities; swimming, sports, crafts, and night games. This year we played a new game called “Jugger Ball”. In this game each person has their own armor: a sword, shield, a chain, etc. The armor was made out of PVC pipes, insulation and duct tape. The boys had a blast attacking the other team with their swords and armor.
Another day the boys went on a hike. We walked to a town that was about 30 minutes away from the campgrounds and from there we hiked up a mountain. We brought our sandwiches with us for a snack and we took a swim in the cold river.
Para animar a los chicos a que fueran generosos en el campamento, el P. Joseph había preparado un juego virtual. El objetivo era que cada equipo encontrara su espada para llevarla al altar donde estaba el Santo Grial. Todos los días se reunían los equipos para informarles de los puntos que ganaban por practicar las virtudes, y los puntos negativos que perdían por los vicios.
Fr. Joseph wanted to help encourage the boys to be generous during the camp so he prepared a virtual game. The goal of the game was to have each team find their sword to bring it to the altar of the Holy Grail. It was a lot of fun! Each day the teams got together to see what points they had won during the day by practicing the virtues and what points they had lost because of certain vices.
Aunque los chicos recibieron muchas gracias agradables, también hubo un grupo que tuvieron que pasar por la enfermedad, algunos con fiebre y vómitos. Los chicos sanos respondieron bien ayudando y velando a los enfermos de su equipo, llevándoles sopa, medicinas, trapos húmedos, etc.
On the spiritual side, we had talks for the younger boys that were based on topics such as prayer, Baptism, the Eucharist, Heaven, and Hell. For the older boys, we had apologetics so that they could learn how to respond to the many questions that the world has and how to respond to the Protestants. During the morning meditations we talked about the saints, St. Francisco, St. Jacinta Marto, St. Paul, the North American Martyrs (St. Isaac Jogue and St. John de Brebeuf), etc. In addition to the talks and meditation, we prayed the Rosary each day and had daily Mass.
Even though the boys received many graces, there were also some crosses that we had to pass through as well. There was a team that got sick with fever and other problems. The boys on that team that was feeling okay were very helpful to their sick teammates and they took good care of them by bringing them soup, medicine, etc.
We are also very grateful to our cooks that prepared our food with so much flavor and love. We also want to thank Xavier who went out each day to buy what we needed.
On the last night of camp, we had a campfire where each one shared the graces they had received in the camp. Many said that their favorite part of camp was the talks and meditations and getting to go to Mass each day. Around the campfire, we sang to Our Lady the song “No Te Vaigas”. This song was a big hit in the camp and the boys sang it with their whole hearts. After the fire, each team put on a skit.
In the last Mass 30 boys entered as members of the Home of the Mother Youth. It was a great joy to see these boys respond to the call of our Blessed Mother. We pray that they be faithful to their commitments and that they can truly be the gift that our Lord wishes to make to His Mother.