Campers learn loyalty in the Book of Job

Camp Savio (photo courtesy of Rachel Schmidt)

By Jen DeCoster

The atmosphere on Monday afternoon was full of anticipation, nervousness and excitement as the campers loaded their bags in their cars and on busses and headed to the first day of Camp Savio. The staff, feeling the same way, stood outside of Maur Hill-Mount Academy waiting to hear the sound of the first vehicles pulling onto campus, the sound of laughter and cheers filling the air.

Madysen Faulkenberry, Mercy Youth Group, shared why she came to Camp Savio, “my friends have been and told me it was fun and I should go.” Gabriel Guerra-York, St. Gabriel, said, “It is really fun and helps me to grow in my faith.”

Jason Hall, St. Andrew, said “I came to camp because last year at Vocation Day, we saw a promo video on Camp Savio and that is why I came.”

As the campers pulled onto campus, they were greeted by the Savio Shepherds and Savio Servants. After unloading their luggage, they joined in games such as soccer and Giant Jenga and received tours of campus. Soon, it was time for the Opening Session. Everyone gathered outside the auditorium, the excitement building, ready for the usual music and skits. When the doors opened, instead of being greeted by music from musician, Joe Herron, they were greeted with Jesus Christ’s presence in the Monstrance and a time for silent prayer.

“Adoration was the most beautiful thing I’d seen. Everyone was so close to God and emotional. Everyone was bonding with Jesus,” said Lila Gaston-Williams, St. Francis Xavier.

Adoration was only the beginning of many unexpected changes from past years. This year’s schedule dove in faster than ever before. The first events on the schedule were low ropes and girl/guy time. While the guys went to Low Ropes, the girls heard testimonies from female staff members. After dinner, they switched and the guys heard testimonies from their male shepherds and the girls were on Low Ropes. Raelyn Wells, St. Charles Borromeo, said, “It was a great experience for team building and trusting others through Low Ropes and growing closer to God. I grew in my faith through Adoration, Mass and hearing testimonies on how they had lost their faith and how it came back.”

This year’s theme was “Emerge.” The topic came from the Book of Job. The second day’s theme was “Worst Day Ever…Still Praising God.” Campers learned about Job who lost his family, wealth, health and more, but still chose to praise God. Jeff Gardner, St. Pius X High School Religion teacher, gave talks that tied the theme into Scripture and the day’s activities. Tuesday’s session taught them how to cope and emerge from bad circumstances in their lives and keep their faith. Other daily themes included remaining loyal to friends and family, recognizing that through brokenness, healing can come, and that everyone is on a spiritual journey that can be measured on a faith growth chart.

Camp Savio gives campers the tools to take their prayer lives home. This year instilled the habit of praying a daily Rosary, in honor of the anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima. At the beginning of the week, they learned the story of Sts. Jacinta and Francisco Marto and Lucia dos Santos. Each morning they would meet for girl/guy time to pray a Rosary and to learn how to be a man or woman of Christ. “I am definitely going to pray the Rosary more,” said Lily Salmond, Holy Spirit. “I learned how to be more respectful and courteous,” said River Bowlin, St. Patrick.

Samantha Barges, St. Therese, said, “I learned a few more prayers, including the St. Michael the Archangel prayer and the Fatima prayer.”

Mud pit competitions were on the schedule Friday morning. “The mud pit was my favorite because I liked the synchronized swimming, watermelon pass, mud relay and mud castle. It was a good day in general!” said Christal Cooper from St. Charles Borromeo.

Attendance at two weeks of Camp Savio reached maximum capacity. Opinions about their favorite part of camp varied from Schlitterbahn to the mud pit, Adoration and Mass. “I really liked how we went to Mass every day,” said Galeana Cayton from St. Therese.

Hannah Solomon, from St. Patrick said, “I like the Low Ropes because it connects religion, teamwork and friendship.”

Isabella Cade, St. Therese, said, “Adoration, hands down! Adoration is what keeps me coming back,” Cade continued, “I have grown more confident in who I am, being around Catholics of my age makes me more comfortable to pray in public, be Catholic and be more confident in who I am.”

An important aspect of Camp Savio are the chaperones and Youth Ministers who give up a week of their lives to bring their teens to camp. Teresa Guerra-York, chaperone from St. Gabriel said, “The two things I enjoy the most about being a chaperone are worshipping with the Middle Schoolers because they worship in a very true, sincere fashion and watching them develop trust among their age group and with their shepherds.”

Chaperone from Mercy Youth Group, Matt Warner said, “It is awesome to see your group open up to God as He wants to encounter them.”
St. Andrew chaperone, Tessa Graybill said, “My favorite part was seeing the joy on the kid’s faces, the joy was purely from the Lord. Being a chaperone is important because it shows the teens how dedicated we are to their growth. It is important when they see us supporting them.”

“I think every parent should come and chaperone 2-3 days, if they can’t do the whole week because you don’t benefit from everything your child has experienced unless you have a part in it. It enables a parent to reinforce what they learn and carry it out at home,” said Teresa Guerra-York.

The last day of Camp Savio, the teens were encouraged to set goals for going home. Michael Aniani, St. Gabriel, said, “I’m going to participate more with the little kid’s program at my parish and teach them what I didn’t know and could have used.”

“I’m going to go to Church every Sunday,” said Summer Heinrich, St. John LaLande.

Gaston-Williams said, “I’m going to talk to my parents and get baptized.”



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November 29, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph