Samuel Barry, 12, and Thomas Platte, 14, sing during morning Mass June 29. Many campers felt God's presence most strongly in their interactions with their fellow campers and staff. Photograph by Jessica L. Marsala.

Interactions between vocation campers and staff highlight presence of God

Originally Appeared in : 9715-7/20/17

Though Mass, adoration and other spiritually enriching activities bookend each day of the diocese’s annual girls' and boys' summer vocation camps, youth say that they find God not only in the camp’s chapel but also in its people.


“You can get any group of people and put them anywhere in the world—if it’s the right people—and you can find God,” said Giovanni Reyes, 17, of the unique fellowship created as a result of the authenticity of faith of campers, staff and speakers. Reyes worships at Sacred Heart Church in Warner Robins.  “The way that you interact with them and they interact with you…you can learn from them.”


Among the guest speakers at the Call to Holiness girls’ camp were Missionary Benedictines from Norfolk, Nebraska.


The Vocatio Dei boys’ camp featured diocesan seminarians as speakers, many of whom also served as counselors to the boys, and even activity planners for the girls.


Whether through the telling of their own discernment journeys or by bringing their own personalities into play during games like tug-of-war, capture the flag and slip-and-slide kickball, the camp’s adult leaders demonstrated to the 90-plus teens how, by “being who God meant [them] to be,” they could “set the world on fire”—the theme of this year’s camp—as Saint Catherine of Siena once said.


Formerly of Columbus, Dominic Crisostomo, 14, explained that in the two years he’s attended camp, he’s appreciated that his leaders didn’t just talk about faith.


They explained how they lived it.    


“They’re honest and they can relate to you...” Crisostomo said. Crisostomo enjoyed his first year at camp so much that he chose to return, despite having recently moved to Missouri.


Like other teenagers, many of whom are preoccupied with school, sports and friends and for a select few, applying to college, Leah Dickens, 16, appreciated that the staff and its speakers had a realistic outlook on the time it may take to discern their vocations.


“They aren’t rushing to find their vocation; some of them are just like ‘I’m still discerning,” Dickens said, explaining how the adult leaders encouraged the youth to trust that God would give them their vocation when they were ready. Dickens worships at Sacred Heart Church in Waynesboro. “Jesus spoke to me [at adoration]: ‘Just chill out, take a breather and enjoy your life where it was and stop stressing out about what you’re going to do.’”


Gigi Gibson, 16, described not only her counselors as encouraging but her peers as well.


“Being surrounded by so many girls who share the same feelings as you do with adoration and just seeing the spirituality is inspiring and great and I love it,” Gibson, a parishioner of Saint Teresa of Avila Church in Grovetown, said.  “You just feel filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s just awesome.”


Hosted by Father Pablo Migone, vocations director for the diocese, the annual camps were held June 25-28 (girls) and June 28-July 1 (boys) at the Georgia Primitive Baptist Camp on the grounds of the old Hillview School near Claxton.

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