By MitchellIt's the time of the year when a lot of kids are off at camp for a couple of weeks. We hear a lot about how camping can build character, instill a sense of camaraderie, and form lasting relationships. (Unless you're going to Kamp Krusty.) It's also true, however, that many camps don't always deliver what they promise, and the values about which they boast are sometimes just a lot of empty words. So rather than the traditional types of camping experience from groups such as the Scouts and the Y, I'd like you to consider an organization I've recently learned about.
Some friends of ours were the beneficiaries of a recent visit by young adults from Catholic HEART Workcamp. If you're not familiar with their mission (and I'll admit I'd never heard of them before they visited Bob and Carol), here's what their website has to say:
Catholic HEART Workcamp is based in Orlando, FL. The Founders/Directors are Steve and Lisa Walker who love young people and God. After 17 years as Parish Youth Ministers in Pittsburgh, Houston and Orlando, the Walkers have devoted themselves to the development and management of the Catholic HEART Workcamp on a full time basis. They not only are experienced Youth Ministers but National Speakers and Workcamp veterans. The first Workcamp was established in 1993 and has increased in size every year. The Workcamps were established to offer quality service projects and evangelical programs for Catholic young people and their leaders. Whenever possible, Catholic HEART Workcamp works hand in hand with the host city diocese. Catholic HEART Workcamp continues to faithfully and enthusiastically serve the Roman Catholic Church in obedience to the Magisterium and strict faithfulness to the Church teachings. Each Workcamp is equipped with 10 summer staff members, adult associate staff members, a nurse, Priest, and camp Manager.
The young people who visited our friends worked for the better part of a week on painting the exterior of their house and garage, and all the trim work. They arrived for work each morning after having attended Mass, and took a break during the day to have a group discussion that often centered around their faith and values, and their hopes for the future.
Now, Bob and Carol have had a fair share to do with youth groups over the years, and are not easily swayed. However, they could not say enough about these young people and the work they did. (I should add here that our friends are not Catholic.) "We always hear about the problems kids are causing," Carol told us, "but these are the kinds of kids we don't hear enough about. And we should." Their devotion to their faith, and the willingness to put it into action in the community, made a profound impact on them. They literally could not stop talking about it. (As we can attest.)
Read about the kids who join Catholic HEART Workcamp: "Any students who will be entering the 8th Grade in the fall of 2009 who are serious about serving others. High school students as well as high school graduates and college students. We require one adult sponsor (21 years and older) for every five young people. Some camps you can bring young people entering 7th grade in the fall of 2009. Next Level camps are open to those entering the 10th grade and older. To see a list of these and all of the camps click here. Please bring at least one adult male and one adult female if you are bringing both female and male young people."
I wish I'd heard about this organization sooner so I could have plugged them earlier in the year, but it's never too late to start making your plans for next summer. Please do check out their website and see for yourself the good things that this organization is doing in our communities.
Talk is cheap nowadays, and a lot of organizations throw around buzzwords like "values," "learning opportunities," and "transformative experiences." But when you're considering a summer camp experience for your own kids or for those of family or friends, check out an organization that walks the walk and talks the talk, that truly believes in faith-based values and isn't embarrassed by its Christian roots, and where you don't have to be concerned about what kind of propaganda the counselors might be passing along. Consider Catholic HEART Workcamp - you'll be glad you did, and so will your kids.