Benedict XVI Blog

Published on Monday, August 29, 2022

Called by Name: Reflections from Camp Encounter and Ignite

Throughout August, our Catholic Culture & Vocations Interns were thrilled to serve at Catholic summer camps, including Ignite, Camp Encounter, and Camp St. Louis. 


“I Have Called You by Name.”

Reflections from Ignite by Eve Bussière

In the second week of August, we four interns –Ruth, Marc, Samuel, and I – spent the week at the St. Thérèse Institute in Bruno, SK, for the Face-to-Face Ministries’ summer camp called Ignite. Ignite is a Catholic week-long camp for high school students, offering an opportunity for teens who desire to grow in holiness, to expand their Catholic community, and to meet other teens like them who also have a desire to grow closer to Christ and to live a virtuous life. The theme at Ignite this year was “Called by Name”. The focus of the week was on the universal call of holiness, stressing that we are all made by God and for God, and that we are all called to sainthood since our ultimate goal is to be with God in Heaven. 


That week at Ignite, there were countless opportunities to grow closer to Christ. Igniters (campers) quickly became friends as they played games, shared meals, listened to the talks and worshiped together at Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. Over the course of the week, through the reception of the Sacraments, Adoration, talks and small group discussions, Igniters were being equipped to go back to their lives witnessing to the faith and deepening their personal relationship with Jesus. The talks that were given that week challenged Igniters to ask themselves “How is my relationship with Jesus?” and “How do I respond to Jesus’ call to holiness?” and “What does Jesus want me to do with my life?” 

I definitely saw how daily Mass, daily Adoration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation transformed the hearts of the teens. During those holy moments, the youth encountered God, as a gracious and loving God who desires a personal relationship with each one of them. Praying together before meals, during Mass and Adoration, and during small groups were powerful ways to witness and promote a Catholic lifestyle for those teens. 


Both Ruth and I had were the small group leaders for the oldest group of high school girls. During small group discussions, they shared insightful thoughts and personal reflections. The girls quickly became friends as they shared their faith, thoughts, joys and struggles with the group. It was a privilege for me to accompany my small group over the week, to see them desire holiness more, and to share some of my thoughts and advice with them. As they return to their regular lives, I continue to pray for them that they may have the strength and the joy to follow God’s will.


 

The Scripture passage that stuck with me from the week was: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine” from Isaiah 43:1. It perfectly encapsulates the Catholic identity and mission. As Catholics, we are God’s beloved children and we are called to be his apostles, to proclaim the Good News and to live an exemplary life of virtue. That week at Ignite, the teens’ Catholic identity was affirmed and within their hearts a fire was kindled ready to stir up a greater zeal to love and serve God. It is evident that the youth who arrived at the beginning of the week left at the end of the week with a renewed sense of their mission to become saints, with a deeper desire to follow Christ, and with a heart on fire for love of God. 

Reverence and Resilience
Reflections from Camp Encounter by Ruth Morris

This past week Eve and I went to Camp Encounter - one of two camps run by the Edmonton Archdiocese (the other is called Our Lady of Victory Camp). I had never gone to either of these camps though I grew up in this Archdiocese, however, many of the team members used to be counselors at Our Lady of Victory Camp. I served for the age 9-12-year-old week - which was an absolute blast! The kids were so fun and sweet. They brought so much joy and inspired me all the while I was on team and supposed to be inspiring them. 

It is hard to come to camp for a whole week when you are between the ages of 9 and 12. Some of the kids would get home sick or tired and it was touching to see their resilience. I felt very blessed to practice the skills to help them through. The experienced team members were great especially because, as it happened, we had a rather rainy week on Wabamun Lake (about an hour from the Rocky Mountains). The team members were very creative in coming up with fun indoor activities and games throughout the week!

The campers’ level of reverence and respect during chapel was also impressive. This speaks to the receptivity of the kids, but also very much to the solidness of the program and team and counselors providing it. Every day we had half an hour of silent prayer as well as Mass. The kids were respectful of those around them – taking what they were doing seriously. During their prayer time they would read their bibles, pray the rosary silently, or simply sit quietly. 

Adoration with the kids was striking. The camp directors, Mike and Samuel, gave a solid, age-appropriate introduction to adoration. They invited the kids to pray and to have an individual moment with Jesus. Mike said that they may feel emotional, or they may not; and that is ok. He said that if someone next to them starts crying, not to start talking or asking questions because they are having their moment with Jesus.  Mike illustrated it well by saying that it is like when you are hanging out with your friend and your sibling comes along. You love your sibling, but at that time, you just want to be with your friend. The campers’ responses were staggering. It was evident from their quiet reverence and some tears what silence with the Lord can do in the heart. 

I really enjoyed what I learned at Camp Encounter about youth ministry and meeting kids where they are at. God is always meeting us where we are at in our relationship with Him so that He can constantly draw us closer. By consistently encouraging these kids to learn more about God and helping them to make good friendships with other youth, I can see just how special one’s time at camp can be. 

Ruth Morris (left) and Eve Bussiere (right). 

 

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Author: Ruth Morris

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