Well we wrapped up the 3rd and 4th grade Explorer week Wednesday at Noon. It is rare to see children at this age get fired up about their faith. The campers really looked up to us as a staff this week. They thought that we knew everything, when in reality we don’t. Each day was filled with their shining faces, excited about what we would be doing next.
Now of course with younger kids comes home-sickness and this week was no exception. We had our share of kids battling the famous camp malady, but overall they seemed to really enjoy their time with us. I know that we definitely enjoyed our time spent with them. They were so full of hilarious comments and sweet things that they would do. Because we are a Catholic camp, and the reason we are here is to bring kids closer to Christ, we have one of them pray us in and pray us out of each activity that we do. This not only helps them to feel comfortable with leading prayers and speaking in front of others, but it helps introduce new prayers to the group.
One of our campers started out by praying the Act of Contrition, another the blessing before meals. It took everything for all of us adults not to laugh. The campers innocence and sweetness was coming out of everything they did! On our last day (which was Wednesday) I got up at my normal time to head down to McRaith lodge and make a Holy Hour and then pray Morning Prayer with a few other staff that pray them with me. (& Father Mike, but he is only there for the older youth camps.) As I walked down the hill, I glanced over and saw some of the campers outside the cabin lodge dousing themselves in bug spray. I shouted: “Good Morning Ladies!” and then in their sweet little voices they shouted back: “Good Morning Corey! See you in a while!”
God has and continues to bless my life abundantly by being at camp. With those campers saying good morning, I felt extremely loved and couldn’t help but smile. Gasper River is such an asset to our Diocese. The joy and wonder that the youth have when they leave camp is truly inspiring!
Wednesday night the staff headed over to Camp Loucon, a methodist camp that is sort of a sister camp to us. We watched their Passion performance and stayed for a little of their “Altar Call” afterwards. It was neat to experience, but it also brought up some thoughts in our staff’s minds. Sure the play was done well, it was nice, and it got your emotions hyped up, but we each knew that something was missing. It was the fullness of the truth, the fullness of the Gospel message, the fullness of the faith! Christ in the Eucharist was missing from their play, the full reasoning behind why we do the things we do was gone. The lights, music, and performance was all designed to work up emotions so that the kids could participate in the Altar Call and give themselves to Christ afterwards. (commonly called being: “saved”)
Ben explained, that to them, their performance was like what our Adoration night was at Gasper. That was what their week was centered around and what they couldn’t wait for. We too at Gasper love and look forward to Adoration, but there was a big difference that I saw. The light’s, music, and acting done at Camp Loucon were all designed to get the kids emotions worked up so that they could have that encounter with Christ in their own way. During adoration, we believe and know that Christ is truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, & Divinity in the Eucharist. We know that he is there, we see him, we worship him, we adore him. We as Catholic don’t have to do things to work up emotions so that those in Adoration have a powerful experience and get emotionally charged. All we do at Gasper, is turn the lights out, light the candles on the Altar so that we can see Jesus, enthroned in the Monstrance, then we kneel and sing, we kneel and meditate on God’s word in the scriptures, we kneel and pray in the silence. And it is in that hour that we spend kneeling before our maker, the creator of the universe that we experience so much power, so much love, that we receive so much strength. We set up the place and then Christ does the rest. He talks to us, he calls us, he invites us to come to him as he draws us to himself. Christ is the one who calls each of our hearts to conversion as we sit and keep watch with him.
I am extremely grateful to Warren who serves as Camp Loucon’s director, for their staff and for the prayers that they pray for us, and the prayers that we pray for them, not to mention our wonderful bond of prayer and support that we give each other, it is so great to work with others in bringing souls to Christ, hopefully one day we can share in the unity of a common faith, so that Christ’s desire “that all might be one” might be accomplished.
Thursday morning the Male staff woke up and cooked brunch for the female staff and for ourselves as well. It was a very simple, yet nice way to say thank-you to them and tell them that we are glad we are working with them. That evening I was blessed to join most of the staff at a pool party/bbq rib cookout at one of the guy’s house, followed by a movie that night. As I drove back to camp I couldn’t help but feel God’s love in my life. He has given so many reasons to be thankful as he has shown me his love so far this summer. What a great and mighty God we have that he loves us so much. It brought me to tears thinking of all the ways he has blessed me so far in my life. God is so good, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to study as a seminarian for the Diocese and have so many amazing experiences. Who I am I that I would ever deserve any of what I have received? I am just as much a sinner as the next guy, but Christ didn’t just die for the next guy, he died for all, he died for me, he died for you, so that we may all have that life abundant and have that chance at being with him forever in Heaven.
Please continue to pray for myself, for all of the staff at Gasper River Catholic Youth Camp & Retreat Center, for the staff at Camp Loucon, and for all of our campers, that we may continue to do God’s will and bring more souls to him. May all Christian people’s come to recognize him in the breaking of the bread, and realize the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Praised be Jesus Christ!
+In His Mercy,