Youth attend an Ignite Camp in Saskatchewan. Summer camps are in full swing this year, the first time since the pandemic hit. Photo courtesy of Ignite Camps

Catholic summer camp season is upon us

  • July 6, 2022

Catholic summer camp organizers are feeling a sense of renewal as day-to-day activities are set to operate in a manner akin to pre-pandemic times.

Zoom conferences will be traded in for outdoor fun and games. Remote praise and worship is out, raucous concert-like singing and dancing is in.

The Archdiocese of Vancouver’s Homecoming Retreat for Grade 8-9 students, hosted from July 4-7 at Camp Jubilee on Vancouver Island, was among the first of many camps and retreats programmed for Christian kids and teens occurring over the next two months.  After cancelling summer camp outright in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions, Faye McCreedy, the archdiocese’s youth coordinator, was excited for the camp to return at full strength.

“We are so excited to be able to do this again,” said McCreedy. “These camps generate so much passion. Kids have come over the years and have so much fun that they decide they want to become camp coordinators when they get older to have the experience again. And it is great to see how these older teens and young adults are so fired up to share their faith with the attendees.”

Group meals, sports, small-group discussions, presentations, Mass and music are just several of the items on the itinerary at the Homecoming Retreat.

McCreedy said that there is awareness on the part of the coordinators that youth have had many formative social experiences stripped away from them due to school closures.

“Through this time of COVID, it has been so hard for youth to connect with one another. Speaking with some teachers and other youth coordinators, we have come to the conclusion that these kids don’t know how to face-to-face interact with one another. This camp will really help build those relationships, we’re hoping, and how to act with each other and how to share their faith openly so they don’t have to be afraid of being Catholic.”

Ignite Camps in Alberta and Saskatchewan, led by Face2Face Ministries, will be the major Catholic summer retreat at work in the Prairie provinces. Ignite Alberta is first out of the gate with a four-day daytime camp at St. Luke’s Parish in Calgary. Ignite Saskatchewan, being hosted at the St. Therese Institute in Bruno, Sask., is hosting five-day camps from Aug. 1-6 (already sold out) and 8-13.

Like Homecoming, Ignite features a blend of guided talks, small group discussions, outdoor fun and the opportunity to experience the Sacrament of Reconciliation and adoration.

Ontario, particularly in the Archdiocese of Toronto, will be defined by Totus Tuus Catholic summer camps.

Eamonn Doyle, the the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Catholic Youth associate director of programs, technology and communications, said he anticipated seeing youth have meaningful faith encounters through these camps.

“To see the smiles on the faces of the children during Totus Tuus summer camp while they learn more about their faith through skits, songs and teachings by passionate young adult missionaries is quite a sight,” said Doyle.

These Monday to Saturday camps began on July 4 and will carry forward weekly, except for the first week of August, until Aug. 12.

Like McCreedy, Doyle said he is proud of Totus Tuus self-sustaining legacy.

“Kids who participate in camps at the parishes and those who volunteer with the camp as teens often go on to post-secondary education and end up applying to become Totus Tuus missionaries for a summer or two,” he said. “Sometimes these missionaries go on to discern a call to the priesthood or religious life as a sister.”

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