On the eve of Mother Daughter Day at CYO Camp, I find myself filled with wonder at Mary’s role in the Catholic faith. Mothers in all cultures represent and embody the caregiver. As a little girl in church, I was always drawn to Mary and the idea that she was the perfect mom, perfect caregiver. How glorious, I thought, to have the perfect mom. Not because I saw my mom lacking in any way, but more that perfection could exist and if anyone was perfect it would be Mary. As an adult I understand her role more deeply and acknowledge that I am still learning and finding my way on my own faith journey.
Recently, I was reading about the dogmas of Mary and was reminded that she is much more than a caregiver. She is truly a miracle with a specific and significant role in the church. As a woman and a mom, I find her strength and her ability to use her voice to intercede on the behalf of believers to be quite remarkable. Her role is not so different from many of the mom’s I know today.
Motherhood takes strength and voice if we are to bring our children up in the ways of goodness which can sometimes be in opposition to what others are doing.
“Of course, in the spiritual realm, the Blessed Virgin Mary plays this role of gentle comforter amid our sinfulness. No matter what we might've done, when we go to her, she will lead us to mercy.” https://www.thedivinemercy.org/articles/sin-affliction-turn-mary
“We can ask Mary for prayers just as we ask family and friends to pray for us. Mary loves Jesus. She wants everyone to know and love Him, too. Mary comes to our aid as our mother to help us and to point the way to her Son. “ https://blessedcatholicmom.com/
Likewise, I am drawn to the time in the Catholic wedding Mass when the couple honors Mary either by lighting candles or presenting her with flowers. Of course, entering the sacrament of marriage is the beginning of a lifetime of great humility and honoring another more than oneself. Honoring Mary and how she gave her life to Jesus as the humblest of all, during this time, can be an important moment at the start of a marriage, reminding both partners the sacrifices that a faithful marriage can ask.
“From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ, her Son and the Son of God…” https://www.spokenbride.com/blog/2019/10/7/honoring-mary-on-your-wedding-day
Finally, I am moved by the power of the Rosary as a way to connect to Mary and her experience as the mother of Jesus. The Rosary itself is believed to have come from Mary. Equally fascinating to me is the comprehensive nature of the prayers and the meditative nature of praying the Rosary and the beads.
“Along with the cross and the sacred holy water fonts, the small beads that makeup Rosary beads are one of the most familiar and recognized symbols of Catholicism. According to Catholic tradition, the rosary was instituted by the Blessed Virgin Mary herself. In the 13th century, she is said to have appeared to St. Dominic (founder of the Dominicans), given him a rosary, and asked that Christians pray the Hail Mary, Our Father and Glory Be prayers instead of the Psalms. The original rosary of St. Dominic had 15 decades.” https://www.theirishstore.com/blog/story-behind-catholic-rosary-beads/
Mary holds a special place in our hearts at camp as well. Our Mary statue sits among the trees in our grotto providing the ideal space to pray and feel her presense. This provides such beautful space to be among what is sacred.
I am equally captivated by the history and tradition and how Mary is integral to it all. She is so much more than the caregiver I saw her as when I was a kid. She’s an important connector to Jesus and a super cool mom for us to hope to emulate or at the very least to pray to her when we struggle.
Angi K Sullivan
CYO Camp Co-director
Several years ago, we became aware of the Pine Bark Beetle. Much to our dismay these little guys can take down a grove of trees in no time. We were told that the only way to get rid of them was to get rid of the trees. Getting rid of trees at camp is a difficult thing. We love the trees! As it turned out, the trees in question were pine trees (Red Rosa) that were planted sometime in the 1960’s. These trees were destined to become Christmas trees. We aren’t quite sure how that worked out back then, but today we know the pines are not native to Indiana, and they were dying. Non-native trees can keep natives from thriving and doing their jobs for the habitats of many of our woodland creatures. These pine trees weren’t super helpful to anyone except for providing a bit of shade to The Pines Amphitheater where we hold Mass and other gatherings. Shade or no shade these trees had to go to prevent them from becoming dangerously weak and unsafe to be around.
So, in 2018 we joined with the Department of Natural Resources and began to make a plan to remove the pines and create something new, a pollinator field.
Why a pollinator field?
Pollinators are life! For us it begins with the bees! We need bees and they need us. Honey bees have long been an interest of Kevin, my co-director and husband. He has had his own hives and is now planning to have one on camp property. The bee box is in place; we just need to add bees.
Did you know?
“Bees are the most important pollinators of flowering plants that, along with other insects, directly or indirectly produce one of every three bites of food we eat. And honey bees -- the bees kept by beekeepers and used to produce honey -- are the most efficient pollinators; they enable the production of at least 90 commercially grown crops in North America and are responsible for adding more than $15 billion a year to the value of U.S. agricultural products.” https://iubees.indiana.edu/. Kevin Fryling, Steve Hinnefeld and April Toler
But it’s not just the honey bee. Mason bees are super pollinators as well.
In this article, the author claims they are actually better pollinators than the honey bees. https://www.tmnews.com/story/lifestyle/2013/06/16/indianas-native-bees/47463905/
In addition to the pollinator field, we have a Bee Hotel for the Mason's and others like them..
“Remember that pollinators are more than bees. Beetles, birds, wasps, moths, butterflies and flies join the ranks to pollinate our plants, helping them produce fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and flowers.” https://www.indystar.com/story/news/real-estate/2019/01/28/hoosier-gardener-plant-garden-pollinators/2648802002/
Our pollinator field welcomes them all.
At camp, it isn’t just important to us to put these practices in place. We also want to share with others and by sharing our love for the natural world we hope to help make an impact in saving her. Having the knowledge, using it, and sharing it is our way of being stewards of the God's magnificant creation, our Earth
Interested in joining us in saving the planet. Learn more here:
Also, when you visit camp, be sure to visit our pollinator field to experience the diversity of life buzzing about.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, I had the opportunity to hang out with some girls to do a little crafting. We discovered tie dye, clay, and lanyard keychains. We also did a little writing. We centered ourselves at the craft building which we lovingly refer to as Handicrafts, aka. Handies. Not just the building though. We also have Handies Hill and Handies Trail. It’s been this way since I was a camper. Handie’s itself is sits atop the hill, open air, only half-walks with picnic tables, cement floors, cabinets, and a sink. In my experience, some of the most love filled crafts have been made here.
What is most notable about this space though is the rafters, beams, and ledges that are painted with the names of those who have worked at camp. A tradition that dates to the 1960’s carries on at the end of each summer. Staff members choose their perfect spot, colors, design, and paint brushes and then paint their name and the date of the summer worked. Those who are working a second, third or even tenth summer add the date on this night and sometimes a little embellishment.
This name painting is a tangible way to say, “I was here.”
Truth? It really means “I WAS HERE” in an amplified voice with feelings of accomplishment and sighs of relief. They were here and they sweat, laughed, cried, joked, survived homesickness (theirs and the kiddos), stretched their comfort zones, broke a few rules, danced, sang, gazed at stars, played in the rain, and so, so much more.
The girls I was with on that Sunday afternoon had not yet had the opportunity to really take in these names before and were quite enamored. They laughed at “TED” and noticed painted sun shines, hand drawn flowers, dates that are older than they are, and shoes. Yes, someone added a real pair of shoes to their rafter name painting.
One of our writing prompts (created by my co-facilitator, Mary Beth O’Brien) for the afternoon turned out to be to choose a name or two and create a story. This was a favorite prompt of the day and gave a creative spark as they imagined the people who these names belong to.
For me, these names evoke memories of real people who I knew for a short time in their role of summer camp counselor. Many I have kept in touch with, many have been lost to me due to time and busy lives. All have gone on to build lives of their own that draw from the foundational experience of summer camp counselor. They have become parents, social workers, teachers, priests, nuns, engineers, coaches, guidance counselors… I could go on, but I will stop there.
Recently I noticed this on my Facebook feed:
“I really underestimate how formative, challenging, and unbelievably helpful my summers being a counselor at CYO camp truly were.
As a mom and as a teacher, I pull from that well of experience so often. I LOVE building culture in my classroom and on teams I coach. I feel comfortable doing it, and I somehow just now made this connection. At camp, we were handed a group of kids for a week and just.... created a positive group dynamic out of thin air. Every week.
I noticed camp again when my lesson before spring break wasn’t going well, and I not only noticed, but I also felt completely comfortable abandoning the plan for a better one I was creating in real time. I learned how to do that when we were supposed to be at an activity that was cancelled by weather. This rain not only ruined that original plan, but it also gave me an hour, 10 kids, no warning, and no plan at all. You learn to make magic out of... time, togetherness, and pure energy. Turns out...This is so, SO helpful in life.
And yesterday, with my sweet, rambunctious 3.5 (the half matters, guys!) year old, we were in an astoundingly slow checkout line. And I made up an everlasting game to entertain him. The rules, as many camp games do, slightly shifted over time to ensure he could never quite “win” and end the game. I learned to do this while singing songs and dancing while we waited to eat. It doesn’t feel like waiting when there’s entertainment, and again, you learn to think this way by doing it.
Just like in life, at camp most things are good, and some things are hard. Some weeks, you’ve got kids waking you up every night, and you have legitimately no idea how you’re going to summon the energy to deliver on the promise of camp magic the next day.
Today I’m finding myself in a similar place...so blessed by the calling in my life to wear so many hats, so tired from a teething baby, and so sure that by God’s grace and lessons from camp, I can deliver on that magic I learned to make those summers in Nashville.” Allison Tabaska (also known at camp as Ali Sobecki)”
I could not make this up if I tried. Camp is the ultimate teacher, and we are all her students.
I am looking forward to yet another summer and although the names added at the end will be smaller in number, I know they will leave their mark as all those before saying “I WAS HERE” and walk away with that same sense of accomplishment and sighs of relief as they move forward taking bits and pieces of camp out into the “real world.”
CYO Camp Co-Director
Just the other day I overheard someone say, “We are in for another COVID-19 summer.”
I was caught off guard and most of me wanted to disagree. “We are moving forward”, a strong voice in me proclaimed,“we are planning camp, hiring staff, buying supplies. We are back in business”.
Another voice nervously replied, said “yes, but things will be different than they were before 2020, before COVID-19.”
Of course I know this, but sometimes my heart forgets and dreams of summer camp as it was and as it has always been. I am likely not alone. It is true that some things have been lost, but we are not without hope and when reviewing the latest COVID-19 recommendations from the American Camp Association this caught my eye.
“The safety and health of campers and staff is always the highest priority at camp, and camps have a long history of planning for and managing communicable diseases. With the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) within the United States, camps are reviewing and updating health-related plans and procedures.”
It’s true, we have adapted again and again for changing times. Granted this time feels more significant, but we know how to do this; we know how to create a safe environment at camp. We have done our research and made necessary changes to ensure that our campers and our staff are safe at camp. We have also kept the spirit of camp alive. There may be some activities we cannot do but there are more we can do. We are focused on the can! We can come together and play, build relationships, be in the natural world, pray, celebrate faith and life, and grow. And there will also be fun as we swim, ride horses, hike, create art, play games, swing on the giant swing, sing around the campfire and so much more. It may not be completely camp as we have always known it, but it will be a positive camp experience that none of us will forget.
CYO Camp Rancho Framasa is safe this summer and camp is essential this summer. Our children have no doubt had a tough year and coming to camp can help alleviate some of their stress and give them back a piece of normal and hope that our world is healing.
Below you will find a link to our COVID-19 safety practices for you to review. Please let us know if you have any questions. We are open to discussing the topics that are important to you and your family.
We hope to see you at camp soon!
CYO Camp Co-director
COVID-19 Safe Practices
Lent is a time of preparation, reflection, reconciliation, and penance. Sounds super fun right? Well… maybe fun is not exactly the word that springs to mind when you think of Lent. By definition, Lent is not designed to be a “fun” or necessarily “enjoyable” time in the church. As we see, even the celebratory exclamations of “Alleluia” are removed from our services. We are called to deepen our spiritual life through the practices of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. It is designed to be a time where we call to mind our short comings, and failings, then seek to make atonement in the form of fasting and prayer. It is to be a reminder of when we did not live up to our Christian values, to look at our mistakes and examine our lives and consciousnesses thoroughly and objectively. For most of us this act of self-examination is not a comfortable one, but it is a necessary one, and a good one.
Many people give up something, or fast, as a penance for Lent, maybe chocolate, or sodas, or maybe video games and television. Why? That sounds hard or inconvenient. However, that difficulty or inconvenience is exactly why this practice is so necessary. Each time we are challenged or inconvenienced, by our sacrifice, is an opportunity to remind ourselves why and for whom we are making that sacrifice. We are providing ourselves a moment of pause in our busy lives, to remember Christ and His sacrifice on the cross for us. We recall that if Christ, sinless and pure, made the ultimate sacrifice to suffer and die on the cross, then I can surely take up the cross I have been given and offer my sufferings up to Him in atonement for my sins and failings.
The second spiritual practice we are called to is expanding our prayer life. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 we are called to “Pray without ceasing.” That may seem like a tall order. However, we do not need to be constantly knelt before the altar in church to live up to this request. We can do this through our everyday lives. Think about how much more meaningful and powerful our lives would be if you could offer even the simplest tasks to God as a prayer. Well, you can! Simply by changing your mindset. When you are faced with a task, first intentionally offer a small prayer up before starting. Do you have to sweep the floor? Say “Father in Heaven, I offer this task up to You!” Maybe you even offer the task as a prayer for someone else. Think about how much more powerful that mundane task just became.
The final Lenten practice we are called to observe is almsgiving. Many churches offer a Rice Bowl, where you are invited to place your spare change, or any donation amount during Lent, and then it is offered to a charity at Easter. We can do this for any charitable organization that is designed to forward the message, and mission of Christ. We can also do this in the form of good works. Perhaps a small random act of kindness each day, a deposit into another’s “emotional bank account,” is a beautiful gift to be given during Lent. St. Therese of Lisieux said “Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love.” So even the smallest things we do for others, done with love and devotion can build to great things. During these trying times, we must seek to offer others a loving act of kindness, you never know what difficult battle they may be fighting.
So, this Lent, we are all bearing our crosses together. Let us offer each other love and support. Let us lift each other up in prayer. Let us orient our hearts and minds toward Christ and seek to allow His mission to be lived out through us!
I’m praying for you; we are all in this together.
School Year Program Director
In 1978, I was ten years old and I played outside A LOT. From hide and seek in the neighborhood to various types of ball games in the yard, recess at school, creek play, and goofing off in the woods in my grandma’s backyard, to of course CYO Camp. I was outside most of the time. I also watched TV, played pong, Atari, Barbie dolls, board games, and read books inside. When I reminisce about being a kid in the 70’s and 80’s, I fondly remember how it felt being outside and how being outside was just as “normal” as being inside.
The woods were my favorite. Being in the woods and among the trees felt peaceful and adventurous all at the same time. Just the other day when I was hiking around the snow-covered trails at camp, I felt the same way. These days, maybe more than others, that outside feeling is stronger probably because it is less frequent. Much like many people I do not go outside like I did when I was a kid or even as much as I did when my own kids were growing up. I am guilty of too many screens too many days. COVID-19 has not helped. My teens, who are in high school, are in the same boat. School and most of their pastimes involve a screen.
Articles speaking to the trouble with screens are popping up in several of the sites and blogs I visit regularly and they are proposing intentional time outdoors as an answer. It is so simple, but we are so human and do not always do what is simple or best for us.
One blog that I came across proposes that summer camp could be a significant antidote of our times. I don’t disagree. You may already now this about me, but I am a big believer in summer camp. If you would like to read the whole blog, you can check it out here:
This is the part I want to share:
“In 2020, 70 percent of camps didn’t open, many due to government restrictions, others by choice. The camps that did open showed great resiliency and creativity in adapting and flourishing within their new parameters, doing it better than most schools. While some families and staff chose to postpone their camp attendance until 2021 — most didn’t want to miss out, even in the midst of a pandemic, despite apprehensions. What were these people, crazy? Absolutely not. They strongly believed that the benefits outweighed the perceived risk. This June, after two compromised school years and everything that’s gone along with it, our children’s need for the benefits of summer camp will be crucially important:
We had a depressed young camper last summer who hadn’t left his apartment nor gotten fully dressed in months. By his third day of camp, his parents thanked us for “returning his childhood to him.” For many kids, camp is a more important social-emotional antidote than the actual vaccine.”
As you can see, the author, Andy Pritkin, does not just speak to being in nature as the antidote to screens or the pandemic because at summer camp there is so much more. Being in nature is the foundation that we stand on to make everything else, connections, relationships, resiliency, physical and mental health benefits, and learning, happen.
Yes, many camps opened last summer and ran summer programs that were successful despite the pandemic and many did not. CYO Camp, as you may know, ran only one week before closing. It was the best decision at the time.
Fast forward to 2021. This year will be different. We are planning eight weeks of summer camp for all the reasons lifted in the blog. Summer camp will look a bit different due to COVID-19, but it will still offer kids the same fun, faith filled, adventures it has in the past only now it is COVID-19 safe. Our practices will include mask wearing, sanitizing, distancing, and handwashing. In addition, due to a grant and matching donations, we are updating the camp facilities with touchless paper towel dispensers, anti-microbial counter tops, and more.
Life will likely never return to the time when being outside felt just as “normal” as being inside. Younger generations may never know how it feels to spend more time outside than inside, but I believe we can take steps in that direction. Summer camp is a solid step for children to experience all that outside has to offer. No screens allowed.
Interested in signing up a favorite kid in your life? Dates and fees have been posted at: https://www.campranchoframasa.org/dates-and-fees.html
Registration Opens February 15, 2021!
I can't wait!
Angi K Sullivan
Confirmation is truly a once in a lifetime experience that we are invited to receive as members of the Catholic Church. It is a moment where we are sealed with the Holy Spirit and our souls indelibly marked for Christ. Many young people prepare for a year or more to make their Confirmation! CYO Camp Rancho Framasa is happy to be a part of that preparation for many young people in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis through our Confirmation Day of Reflection. This day is a fantastic time for young people to connect to and build their faith in new ways, meet new people, experience the outdoors, and have a ton of fun all in a single day retreat!
Confirmation Day of Reflection offers retreat participants a wonderful experience! We provide a great mix of recreation, spiritual development, and Confirmation focused education. In the upcoming Confirmation Day of Reflection on Feb. 6, 2021 we are excited to be partnering with the San Damiano Scholars program out of Marian University! One of their students will be joining us to give a talk about Confirmation and her personal Confirmation journey. We will take a deeper dive into our faith by learning about different ways to pray, reflecting on our own personal relationship with Christ, and understanding the power that Confirmation holds. Retreat participants will also get to experience team and community building activities designed to bring them together in Christian community, and then be able to take those lessons and experiences back to their home parishes.
Check out what people are saying about our fall Confirmation Day of Reflection!
“They both had a wonderful time at the retreat. They came away with a greater understanding of confirmation and they had fun while learning with their peers.”
“You guys did an amazing job. I would recommend this day of reflection to anyone!”
“Going into this, she was very unsure about what to expect and what she was going to get out of it. She went to camp a little grumpy. She came back a different child. She has been talking about our Faith more and has been much more engaged in learning about Confirmation.”
This coming Confirmation Day of Reflection on Feb. 6, 2021 is one you will not want to miss! So, if you or someone you know is preparing for their Confirmation, and would like to attend this awesome retreat experience, sign up for Confirmation Day of Reflection with CYO Camp Rancho Framasa! Registration is open and there are still spots available! Don’t miss this great opportunity!
School Year Program Director
CYO Camp Rancho Framasa
The holidays have passed, and we have rung in a new year. Judging by the posts on my social media, many of us are ecstatic to leave 2020 behind and forge ahead into 2021. Obviously, 2020 was tough year. Perhaps that is an understatement. It certainly took its toll on camp. We missed so much of the typical camp year. I missed working with Program Staff, visiting Ranchfest, and the summer camp kids playing outside my office window the most.
As I have written before, the year at camp was not without blessings. Fundraisers, volunteers, family days, rentals, and committed staff are just a few. I feel so much gratitude for all who helped camp stay afloat in 2020. We could not have done it without the help of so many.
And now? We are so excited for 2021! We are gearing up for events and programs early to late spring and are hopeful to hold summer camp. Yes, maybe summer camp!
Currenlty, we are hiring staff for spring groups and signing up volunteers for a couple of staff workdays. There is a buzz around as we start this new year centered around the future of camp. We know things will remain under the COVID-19 precautions, but are optimistic and excited to be moving forward.
As always, we are hopeful that camp will be a part of your year at camp. Look at what we have on the horizon:
• Confirmation Day of Reflection--- (coming soon…February 6, 2021)
• CYO to GO! --- we bring programming to your school or parish
• Camp Rental--- spend some or all of spring break at camp
• Family Camps (including Mother Daughter): dates TBD
• School Year Programming: Outdoor Education, Retreats, Field Trips, Leadership, and Community Programs ---- we are currently accepting registrations!
In addition, we are penciling in some summer camp programs and dates. We are thrilled that ALL of this is feels possible. Our goal is to make 2021 a great year… maybe the best one yet! It may look a little different at times (masks, distancing, sanitizing, etc.) but our programs will proudly carry the same values they always have. We continue to be inclusive, Catholic, camper-centered, humble, focused on staff development, and stewards of the earth. Oh, and did I mention we plan to have fun?
So. much. fun, is in store!
Won’t you join us?
Good stuff is on its way!
CYO Camp Co-director
Tiny twinkling lights that shine through hues of red and green, glimmering off gossamer garland that gently flows in and out of branches adorned with glittering ornaments, and shining from the apex a star seeming to call us all home. Christmas trees seem to bring us so much pleasure and enjoyment during the holiday season. They fill our homes with a warm glow and decorate our lives with beautiful memories and love. Isn’t it interesting how our rooms seem to be so full before we place the tree in our midst, and yet when it is removed in a few short weeks the room seems empty? But where did this tradition begin and what does the tree symbolize?
The tradition of using an evergreen tree as a Christmas tree is thought to have begun nearly a thousand years ago. Though at that time the trees would have been suspended upside down from the ceiling (I’m quite thankful that tradition has long since passed…). However, the idea of bringing a tree into your home is thought to have originated with the 16th century German preacher Martin Luther. He is said to have been walking through the woods at night when he observed the stars shining through the tree branches. This sight reminded him of Christ who left the heavenly stars to come to earth at Christmas.
Another Christmas tree tradition stems from St. Boniface of Crediton. He rescued a young boy from the clutches of his captors, by cutting down a large oak tree to prevent the boy’s ritual sacrifice. From the roots of the oak tree, there emerged a small fir tree. St. Boniface’s followers then decorated the tree with candles allowing him to preach at night, and further the message of Jesus Christ.
Our Christmas trees today hold a whole host of symbols of our faith. The tree’s triangular shape is a symbol of the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Being an evergreen tree, it reminds us both of our new and everlasting life in Christ, and of His eternal love for each of us. We often top it with a star commemorating the star of Bethlehem which shown above the manger where Christ was born and was followed by the wisemen to lead them on a journey of hope to the King of Kings. Others may top their tree with an angel, which symbolizes the angel that appeared to the shepherds in the fields to announce the birth of Christ. The ornaments used to decorate our trees represent the fruit from the Tree of Life, through the memories and pleasure they evoke we are reminded to ensure that our lives are bearing good fruit in the service of our Lord. Lastly, the lights in which we wrap our tree bring light and warmth, this reminds us that Christ is the light of the world, and He will guide us through the darkness.
So, as we adorn our homes with these beautiful decorations, let us always keep present in our minds the reason for the season, the birth of Jesus Christ. May His peace and joy be ever present for your family this Christmas and may you have a blessed and Happy New Year.
School Year Program Director
Advent invites us to slow down, to prepare, to anticipate one of the most holy days in the church calendar. I have known this for years and our family has many traditions to honor this season of love and giving. The advent calendar and activities surrounding them have not been a part of our tradition. Advent calendars were not something I was exposed to in my childhood, so it did not become a part of the traditions we incorporated into our family.
Recently, one of my kiddos wanted an advent calendar of their very own and I took notice. After a quick online search, I discovered that on one site alone there are sixty-two different advent calendars. Sixty-two. Calendars that include the traditional chocolate, but also Lego, wine, hot sauce, make-up, pet food (because your pets definitely need to participate), hot wheels and more.
Clearly, either I am missing out, missing the point, or am seeing a super-sized commercialization of the season.
At the risk of being a scrooge or at the very least a skeptical newbie on the advent calendar scene I must ask, “Why so many?” This question led me to a second online search for the history and true intention behind the advent calendar.
“While many outside the Christian tradition enjoy their yearly countdown calendar (and its hidden treats), the meaning behind the Advent calendar remains steeped in religious themes. More than just a countdown, marking the days of Advent serves as a time of spiritual reflection and preparation. Advent is a season of waiting, calling to mind the longing and anticipation of God’s people who, for centuries, awaited the coming Messiah.
Counting down the days of Advent can help us consider what it must have been like waiting for the promised Messiah, generation after generation. It gives us an opportunity to lament the reason we needed a savior to come in the first place—our sin—and also to remember God’s past faithfulness to us. On this side of the cross, we know that Israel’s long season of expectation culminated in the birth of Jesus Christ. Likewise, our yearly season of Advent culminates in the celebration of Christmas; but first we walk through a season in which we prepare for the feast.
In addition to commemorating God’s faithfulness in the past, keeping Advent also helps us look ahead with hopeful anticipation. Advent puts us in the habit of watching and waiting, which is a helpful practice because Christians still live in a state of anticipation: We are waiting for Christ’s return. By looking back at His first Advent, we prepare ourselves to live in joyful expectation of His second Advent. By keeping these themes in mind, something as simple as an Advent calendar can help ready our hearts to celebrate the gift of God’s Son.”
The crux is that advent calendars are an intentional way to count down the days until the birth of Jesus and a way to bring awareness to that at least once a day. Okay, the meaning of Christmas is right there. I can get behind that. And the hidden treats are perhaps that external motivation we sometimes need to create accountability. I get it and realize now that there are plentiful options (sixty-two and counting) to choose from because we are all into different things and we can all use a daily treat.
I know just the calendar that would be perfect for me.
Opening a little box everyday with a poem would keep me coming back, back to the calendar and back to this season of preparation for the celebration. A third online search brought me to the one I plan to start using as soon as it arrives. Better late than never.
Whether you are a fan of advent calendars or not, I hope you find a daily connection to this season of love and giving from the heart as we prepare for the birth of Jesus Christ.
CYO Camp Co-director
Camp is such an unique experience! Our staff take turns sharing their perspectives of the experience that is CYO Camp Rancho Framasa!
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