Speaking Out: Lessons from summer camp

By  Patrick Peori, Youth Speak News
  • August 11, 2017

When I was hired as a camp counsellor earlier this year I expected the job to come with great rewards and great challenges. I didn’t expect one of the challenges would force me to actually grow in my Christian life.

Children are bold with their faith. They have no problem praying very publicly before they eat, singing Christian songs together or discussing God.

On one occasion while on a field trip at lunch time, the children held a sort of competition to determine who could say the Our Father the loudest. While outwardly I had a great smile, inside I was cringing, thinking about what those on the beach would think of this.

While I glanced around to see who was looking our way and what sorts of looks they were giving us, the kids loudly expressed their beliefs. At a tender age, they were evangelizing.

As much as this brought a wide smile to my face and made me laugh, it also prompted me to look inward at myself.

I am not like these kids at all. I wouldn’t dare sing about the Lord publicly, let alone let my volume come above a whisper when praying publicly before meals.

The children I have the pleasure of working with have not yet been boxed in by the culture. They don’t yet see the world they live in and they aren’t afraid to let the world know about the greatness of God.

I have been defined by the culture. I am afraid to speak up on issues that matter to me. Time after time, whether at school or at work, I have let myself be drowned out by others and become a small whisper that is not listened to.

I am inspired by the children’s example to be just like them and do what they do — to not let political correctness hold me back from expressing the beauty of my Catholic faith.

I want the culture to be more tolerant of them when they grow up than it is right now of me. That means I have work to do and it means I cannot let my shyness get the better of me.

To ensure these children do not ever reach an age at which they feel they need to lower their voice on the greatest love story the world has ever known, I need to raise my voice now. The time is past for being scared or letting my beliefs be quieted.

Instead of leaving camp unchanged and tired, I’m motivated to do something. I look forward to the upcoming school year and will hold back nothing when discussing matters of faith or praying on my university campus.

The joy that is inside the campers and myself deserves to be shared and shouted from the rooftops. I want to give everyone an opportunity to hear this message and make a decision for Christ. I’m ready to conquer this challenge head on.

My campers have taught me to be a better evangelizer and a better leader.

(Peori, 19, is a second-year journalism student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ont.)

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