It always amazes me the power that the youth have at converting my heart back to the Lord. This summer I have been working again at Gasper River Catholic Youth Camp & Retreat Center as a Summer Staffer and the stories I have to share from the first week of camp, let alone staff training are immense.
In the Scriptures, Christ discusses the need of having to have the faith of a child, in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Throughout my time working as a Summer Staffer, I am constantly being amazed at the level of faith, which the campers bring to camp. They don’t normally come spurting out bits of knowledge, like what an Ostensorium is or discussing the Hypostatic Union of Christ, but they do bring a peaceful, simple, love of the Holy things.
One camper, who I will call, Lauren tends to be the camper who can get on your nerves, by raising her hand to answer questions and then stalling as she thinks up an answer, usually something which goes in a totally different way than which you were hoping for. At the same time though, we have learned that if we give Lauren time to think a question up fully before calling on her, she is able to give some of the deepest insights to the faith and our questions than any other kid. One of our joys was when Lauren went up to read the Responsorial Psalm, she began to read with such gusto and shake her fist in the air as she said: “Behold…” “Look…” “Confess…” It was one of the most hilarious and sweet things I have seen! Just, watching the way in which she in her innocence embraced the task at hand, something that she obviously found great joy in doing.
There have been other instances of growth for myself, and moments of joy. The first 7th and 8th grade camp of the season got to experience adoration. Many, of the campers experienced it for the first time. Now, at camp we don’t have adoration with the campers like we have adoration at church, it is what we call an “XLT” adoration. (XLT stands for eXaLT) So throughout the entire hour we sing songs, praising Christ, do a little lectio divina, but also have moments for silence and reflection. (Usually about 15 minutes throughout the whole hour) We start off in McRaith Lodge, with a Eucharistic Procession down to wherever we are holding adoration. This year we have been holding it in the Pavillion, a huge open, but roofed gazebo like structure that has a stage area at one end and sits overlooking the river. As the procession nears the Pavillion, campers and staff see the structure, which looks something like a boat stretching out into the night darkness, illumined with candlelight. Candle line the rails of the pavilion and are spaced out on the floor to create rows for the campers to kneel in.
The experiences which the kids experience at adoration and camp are inexpressible. It is such a joy to watch them grow closer to Christ and deeper into their faith. Coming back in my second year as a summer staffer I greatly enjoy seeing how the campers have grown and matured since last year and watching them grow into the young men and women of God which they are each called to become. Please keep us in prayer as we keep you in ours!
The summer went by and was a blast. As usually. I have since been home, though I am now back in Bowling Green, preparing to head to our seminarian provincial gathering at Barren River. Please pray for all of the seminarians as we “retreat” together.