Maidens of Captivenia speak to the legion defending the honour of Arcatheos and the other kingdoms constituting Lumenorus. Sister camp for girls age nine-17, Captivenia enjoys a strong relationship with the boys camp. Photo courtesy of Dr. Brian Doran

Fantasy camp turns boys into men of God

  • August 6, 2022

Welcome to Lumenorus, a mythical realm populated by heroes and villains contesting for dominion over its several kingdoms, the most sought after being the Kingdom of Arcātheos.

ArchLord Valerian, prince of the immortal Duxarium race, acts at the behest of a mysterious king, commanding a legion of knights and other protagonists to defend Arcātheos’ main gate against evil Reth Maloch, a fallen Duxarium who rejected the king’s grace, and his menacing Valgrey army. Whichever race controls this portal holds the key to possessing Lumenorus.

Valerian’s legion are the Catholic boys and teenagers who signed up for the Arcātheos main summer camp from Aug. 7-13 at the scenic Britton Ranch 45 minutes southeast of Calgary. The teenagers attended knighthood training from Aug. 1-6 to prepare for their mentorship role the following week.

Youth wield swords, fire arrows and catapult water balloons as they stand with their brother knights against the forces of darkness. But more importantly, this interactive experience is designed to inspire these boys to become men of God who desire to strike up a lifelong friendship with Jesus Christ.

Dr. Brian Doran, a rural Catholic physician in southern Alberta, founded the summer camp in 2003. Formerly called Camp Rivendell, named after an Elvish homeland in TheLord of the Rings, Doran and his colleagues devised a religious formation experience where the attendees would learn about God’s teaching as they fight for the safety of Middle Earth.

After completing several treks into J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy, Doran tasked himself with building a new mythical world to ensure the camp would remain popular for Catholic boys in the years to come.

“I realized that the writing was exciting for me,” said Doran. “As a man of science and a physician, dabbling in the arts was really fun and I fell in love with it. Characters began to come alive to me, the places became real and I began to draw maps, always with the idea that God is the King we don’t see in the parables we speak of during camp. And this immortal race of Duxarium to help mentor those who are called to come into Lumenorus because the king has a mission for them to vanquish evil.”

Doran, a married father of seven, is aided by assistant directors Norm Hebert and Mark Hagman, and has the support of the Regnum Christi — Latin for “Kingdom of Christ.” This Catholic federation has more than 25,000 members throughout 38 countries, including priests, consecrated men and women, and lay members.

Breathing charismatic life into the main and background characters constituting the Arcātheos narrative is a troupe of performers, some hailing from the Regnum Christi.

Priests visit camp Arcātheos to preside over Mass and celebrate the other sacraments such as reconciliation. Ever aware of the Lumenorus narrative and the activities of the day, they allude to characters and plot points to help their homilies resonate deeply within each of the campers.

Doran and the other leaders are interested in stoking four different types of formation: spiritual, human, apostolic and intellectual.

“For the spiritual formation, we truly are a Catholic camp that will have five priests, two brothers and a seminarian from Edmonton on hand. As soon as they wake up, there is prayer, Mass in the morning, daily rosary, adoration most mornings and nighttime prayer. Apostolically, we are teaching the boys who take knighthood training to serve the younger boys, and we encourage every boy to return home and participate more in Mass, become inspired to join groups like NET Canada and to consider vocations.”

Leadership training and social bonding is a core principle of the human formation element at work. Doran taps into his experiences as a reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces and Warrant Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets to bring a group of people together in pursuit of a common goal.

Intellectual formation feeds into all aspects of the camp, said Doran, as the mind must be active to successfully complete the wilderness training, learn leadership principles and connect with the spiritual lessons profoundly.

Post-camp feedback sent to Doran and other leaders from the attendees and their parents validates that spending time defending the Kingdom of Arcātheos inspires a deeper conviction to attain a place in the Kingdom Of God.

“The best thing we hear is when a parent writes, ‘hey, my kid went to camp and he prays now. He wants to be active. He wants to be an altar server.’ We’ve had kids discern the priesthood, and we have had boys join the Catholic faith.”

The Arcātheos boy camp enjoys a close partnership with its sister camp Captivenia, which was hosted for girls ages nine-17 from July 20-30. Characters from one world to cross over to the next.

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