Transforming Lives

Cardinal Dolan 6

By Kelly Luttinen

Throughout North American, approximately 1500 young people had the opportunity to participate in Conquest and Challenge camps this summer.

“This number does not even include all the counselors and adult leaders involved,” said Todd Brechbill, Conquest National Director. “We had approximately 50 Conquest and Challenge summer camps this year in the United States and Canada.

“What is unique about all of these camps is that they all have a common foundational element of youth formation. As we like to say, they are Powered by ECyD (Experiences, Convictions and your Decisions). All of the camps provided the youth with unique formative experiences that helped them to develop deeper convictions, which in turn will help them make better decisions the rest of their lives.”

Conquest camps for boys took place in Connecticut, Ohio, Louisiana, Texas, Indiana, Georgia, California, Michigan, Kansas, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington DC, as well as in Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan in Canada.

Fr. Simon Devereux LC, who helped with the boys’ camp in Cheshire, Connecticut, described the camp experience as a “bunch of joyful boys…who played soccer, ate good food, went to daily Mass and adoration and were encouraged to grow in virtue through preaching about Jesus, the model of all virtue, and then living it out during camp activities.

“Several boys were disappointed and thought we didn´t have Mass on the final day of camp, but were thrilled to hear we were waiting to have it with their parents at the end of the day. Their parents were grateful to see that their boys enjoyed going to Mass every day.”

Challenge camps for girls took place in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec in Canada, and in the United States in Alaska, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Indiana, Texas, Connecticut, Colorado, North Carolina, Arizona, Michigan and Louisiana.

One of the mothers, whose daughter participated in the camp in Louisiana, wrote on the camp’s Facebook page:

“Thank you all who had a part in making Challenge Camp so awesome…When I asked my daughter what her favorite spiritual part was…she said ‘being able to be with Christ every day and pray in the chapel whenever I want.’ That’s pretty powerful stuff coming from a 12-year-old.  You do tremendous work to foster these girls’ love for Christ and to help them grow spiritually, and I thank you for that.  We are truly blessed to be a part of this wonderful organization!”

In Dallas, Texas, camper Emma shared her thoughts:
“I had an amazing experience at the mission camp…I got to grow closer to God and meet some amazing new friends. You guys made me think about coming for the full six weeks next year.”

Camper Audrey wrote to the ECyD missionaries who served as camp counselors in the Dallas area: “I for one would like to thank you for devoting 6 WEEKS of your summer vacation to Challenge camps and missionary work.  That is just so…WOW! (The camp) really was one of the best parts of my summer!  I loved the Gospel, the chapel visits, the games, the waterpark and so much more.  You…were loving, caring, and helped us grow in our friendship with Christ; all the while making camp crazy, fun and memorable.  You helped me understand the Gospel better!  I pray every day now and love God even more.  Best of all, I have friends in other cities, states and even out of the country!”

A mother whose daughter attended the Dallas-area camps wrote:
“I cannot express to you the change in (my daughter) from that brief week she spent with all of you.  She has always had a desire to serve our Father and has always been willing to listen for His direction, but, as most teens, she struggles with this more during the school year…even though she attends a Catholic high school…that peer pressure is pretty darn hard.  But I truly believe after her mission trip she will be even stronger in her faith when school resumes.  I see a fire in her that I´ve not seen from any other retreat/camp/seminar.  She just seems so much sure of her faith and her purpose.  THANK YOU for all of your work and for your example and for sharing YOUR faith with her.”

Another mom from the same area wrote:
“I realize what a blessing it was to me to hear (my daughter) say that she wanted to become a missionary at age 15 if we would let her. (She) told me that she enjoyed the summer camp SO MUCH that she didn´t take off her camp bracelet until last week because she didn´t want to forget the experience.”