Knights camp ignites youth

By  Vanessa Baker, Catholic Register Special
  • September 18, 2007

{mosimage}ORILLIA, Ont. - This summer, I was among 39 lucky applicants chosen by the Knights of Columbus for a life-changing week of faith, fun and friendship.

The 2007 Knights of Columbus Ontario Catholic Youth Leadership Camp in Orillia, Ont.,  from Aug. 20 to 25 allowed participants to grow in their faith while developing skills that would encourage them to continue as leaders in their schools, parishes and communities.

Through the theme of this year’s camp, “What must I do?” (Mark 10:17), we were encouraged to explore the gifts and talents we were blessed with and find ways to share them with others.

Throughout the week we spent at the Ontario Educational Leadership Centre in Orillia, we were given time for personal growth through private reflection and journal writing balanced with leadership exercises and activities that encouraged important skills like teamwork, trust and communication.

In many of the activities four teams competed against each other to complete tasks such as building the strongest, tallest tower out of newspaper and tape, constructing a fishing net out of yarn, finding a way to balance 12 nails on the head of only one, coming up with skits and songs to present, as well as several other games. Each of the exercises taught us valuable lessons and encouraged us to grow both as individuals and as a team.

We were also given the opportunity to climb a rock wall and participate in a low ropes course, as well as take part in many other sports such as soccer, swimming, hiking, basketball and beach volleyball.

Each morning, we were visited by a guest speaker who spoke to us about different topics regarding faith and leadership. The speakers included actor John McGrath speaking about communication, Ted Vander Zalm, who shared his story about travelling to Guatemala to dig wells and taught us the importance of global awareness, Tom Wappel, MP for Scarborough Southwest, who spoke about the development of ethics and virtue, and Karen Hemingway from the Marguerite Bourgeoys Family Centre, who addressed the topic of life issues in Canada. Bishop Peter Hundt of Toronto shared his story with us and celebrated the closing Mass on Saturday morning.

I found Vander Zalm’s presentation to be the most moving. He showed a video depicting poverty in Guatemala and gave everyone a heartbreaking photograph of an emaciated little boy with a vulture in his shadow, just waiting for him to die. Hearing about all of this pain and suffering really made us all want to find a way to help those in need.

In addition to the celebration of daily Mass before dinner with Fr. Peter Watters of Oakville, who spent the entire week with us, we began each day with a prayer service after breakfast and ended with another before bed.

At night, we had different forms of entertainment including a campfire, a talent show which everyone participated in and a slide show of photos reflecting our experiences throughout the week.

The week we spent together proved memorable and rewarding for all who participated. We were all able to walk away with many valuable lessons and cherished friendships, as well as a richly nourished relationship with God.

(Baker is a first-year journalism student at Carleton University in Ottawa.)

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