I've had a few people ask me to write more about the camps our kids attend, and since I feel especially lucky to have these camps offered near us, I am more than happy to share. Here goes...
Phil runs a 3 week camp at our kid's Catholic elementary school called Summer Fun. His daily schedule includes a walk to morning Mass, crafts, sports, games, water activities, STEM experiments, music, quiet time for summer packet work, field trips, and then outside people come in to entertain the kiddos on different days.
The days are long and the kids come home tired and sweaty and have had fun all day. Since Phil volunteers to run this camp, our kids get to attend for free, but the price of this camp is very, very, affordable to make it accessible to all school students and parishioners.
The Catholic high school offers one-week camps in lots of different areas from the end of June to the beginning of August. There are lots of sports camps - baseball, lacrosse, softball, golf, track, volleyball, basketball, field hockey, soccer, football and cross country - and also camps for Study Skills, Theater, Writing and STEM.
These camps are great because they invite (mostly) middle school aged kids to come try out different high school activities we offer here so they can know what they are interested in when it comes time to enter high school. They are run by our own high school coaches and teachers, so the kids get to meet their future teachers and coaches and develop some mad skills. As a bonus, employees (like me! and Phil!) of the high school get to pay half-price for these camps.
Our parish has a 3 day camp for Altar Boys (called Altar Boy Boot Camp) that starts with morning Mass, teaches new servers how to serve, encourages camaraderie among all the servers from ages 8-20somethings, and includes lots of food, sports and a field trip day. The parish covers the costs and arranges all activities.
Let's not forget about the girls! Our parish also has a 1 day Sacristan Camp for all the girls who are sacristans at our parish (they prepare the Altar for Mass and clean up after Mass) where they learn how to be sacristans, build friendships and go on a field trip as well! The parish covers the cost of this camp too!
Our Diocese offers a retreat week for guys who are aged 14-19 and are open to vocation discernment called Quo Vadis Days. The boys do NOT have to want to become priests, just to clarify! Discerning a vocation should be the normal state of life for a Catholic youth (both boy and girl) before they figure out what it is God is calling them to. So this week is a really fun guys week with some amazing priests and seminarians.
Every day includes Mass, an hour of Adoration (with Confession offered), Morning, Evening and Night Prayers, a Rosary Walk after dinner, and talks by the priests/seminarians. But they still have tons of time for fun and JP comes home with lots of great stories about their hike up the mountain, pig roast, poker games, movies watched, sports played, etc. He was interviewed in our Diocesan newspaper about the week, and here's what he said. Our parish pays for the parishioners to attend because we are so supportive of vocations.
Lastly (phew!) is the Pro Life Boot Camp that is offered by our Diocesan's Pro-Life Office for high school students. This is a 4 day retreat where participants are given talks about being pro-life, pray outside an abortion clinic, fast for the unborn, visit a nursing home to hang out with the residents (JP said his elderly gentleman was a ballet dancer in his younger years!) and overall try and encourage and educate this generation on how to be pro-life. As with all teen retreats, there's lots of games, food, fun activities and I know quite a few dating couples have met here! The youth group at our parish fundraises for this event all year so that the campers can do for a reduced rate or even free.
Our kids also participate in outside sports camps and summer leagues, we don't *only* let them do Catholic camps :) We are just so lucky to have so many faith-based camps for them to be a part of! And even luckier that the church provides for big families like ours who couldn't afford these things otherwise. God is good!