Camp counsellor Sophia Mutuc poses for a photo with priest and singer-songwriter Fr. Rob Galea. Photos courtesy of Catholic Christian Leadership Camp

Faith and fun at London summer youth camp

By  Chanelle Robinson, Youth Speak News
  • March 6, 2015

LONDON, Ont. - Despite the winter winds howling outside, youth ministry specialist Dan Moynihan and his team are busy preparing to welcome hundreds of high school students to camp this summer.

Each summer for four weeks, the Diocese of London hosts a Catholic Christian Leadership Camp (CCLC) that welcomes students from Grades 9 to 12 to grow in faith, play sports and encounter God by becoming Catholic leaders. The camp has grown exponentially since beginning in 2009. Last year, it hosted more than 360 students.

Moynihan said that the leadership formation specific to this camp gives children the “confidence to live God’s will for their life.”  
Like most summer camps, CCLC provides many activities for their campers, like biking, archery, group games, music and arts and crafts.

Moynihan said that other youth ministry programs offer a “mountain top” experience without any debriefing afterwards, but “this camp helps (students) digest what is being presented to them in a camp setting,” he said. “Kids are immersed differently because they have to live it for five days.”

Travelling to various different camp sites throughout southwestern Ontario, CCLC also provides leadership training specifically designed for each high school grade level.

The Grade 9 group receives an introduction to leadership and learns how to be leaders in a high school environment. The Grade 10 program incorporates a general deepening of the faith, asking questions about what we believe and why. The Grade 11 program introduces Theology of the Body and living in right relationships with God and each other, while Grade 12 campers are enrolled into a Counsellor in Training program in which they enhance the “camper” experience by becoming leaders to their younger peers and assisting other counsellors.

“The ideal hope for it is that kids go through all (the grade level programs),” said Alexandria Neves, a CCLC counsellor and a second-year student at King’s University College in London. “It’s a neat kind of cycle. (The Grade 12 campers) get to help out and try to give back some of the knowledge they’ve acquired.”

The Eucharist is at the centre of the fun. Prayer is central to the everyday life of campers, through daily Mass, rosary walks, adoration and prayers before and after meals.

Neves said what sets CCLC apart from other camps is having Mass.

“CCLC isn’t a place where you experience awesomeness and go back to nothing,” she said. “We are sending them back to their own Masses and their own communities which might differ in flavour but is always the same in that it has that heart. That eucharistic heart.” Sophia Mutuc, another camp counsellor, said the non-Catholic registrants from previous years have all entered the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. She also said that whenever she sees a previous camper “the flame I saw from camp is still in there and it is really refreshing to see.”

Through the integration of prayer within the context of community building and leadership opportunities, CCLC is seeing the seeds it plants come to fruition.

“The thing that I really like about the CCLC environment is that it really sets you up to live a Catholic life,” said Neves. “This is what it looks like to be fully alive and living a Catholic faith. You can’t really find that model in media and popular culture.”

Lifelong friendships are also integral to the formation of leaders. Counsellors act as prime examples for the adolescents who “see themselves reflected in the staff (and the) diversity of gifts and hobbies,” said Moynihan. Peer support flourishes because the upper-year high school students build relationships with post-secondary students.

CCLC has opened for registration. See dol.ca for further details.

(Robinson, 21, is a fourth-year student of Catholic Studies for Teachers at King’s University College in London, Ont.)

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