I have long been a word lover. Reading and writing are favorite pastimes. Part of this love includes being on the lookout for words of wisdom to support or challenge my views. It is in connection with words that I find meaning. It is in that connection that I also seek a sense of validation for the camp work I am involved in AND to find the places my camp work can grow. The words that people share about their experiences are powerful messages of when we get it right and when we miss the mark. So, it is no coincidence that I excitedly open each and every feedback form that makes its way to my camp inbox. I want to know what people are saying about camp, yes, even the criticism. I want to know it all. This fall we have been honored to hold space and outdoor programs for some pretty amazing folks. It has been mostly good news from them but also some ideas for us to grow into. Here is a sampling of their words about their camp experience.
“We all had a great time! Your grounds are very meticulously kept. The nature all around is incredibly beautiful. We LOVED the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue, as well as our Blessed Mother statues and stations of the cross. We were thrilled to have no cell phone coverage. We were able to really refocus on what is really important to us: our Faith and our family. Love and Support. Eliminating technology and making real memories is a blessing to us. We are so thankful for the weekend. We were also really impressed with the food selection--it was very healthy and nutritious. We really hope to return and make it a tradition!”
“One of our best year's yet. The kids got so much from the experience!”
“If I could change one thing about CYO Camp it would be: I know this is probably unavoidable, but I would say consistency. I find the retreat offered depends so much on the team of leaders. Some years they've been great, some years it's half and half. The activities are also led differently based on what leader/counselor you have. I know everyone has their own gifts/passions, so they aren't going to all do things the same, and there's beauty in that. Sometimes though I wish it could be more consistent across this board. This time around, two of the leaders actually switched groups so they could lead the activity they were more comfortable with. I appreciated that, because I felt like they were trying to use their gifts in the area that was best for them, and therefore was best for the kids.”
“This was my first time at this particular camp, and I was impressed with how engaged you kept all of our kids from beginning to end.”
I have such gratitude for those who take the time to fill out feedback forms. Words shared in this format become a part of the conversation about how best to live out our core values and to serve in a way that is pleasing to others and to God.
A few additional words to close with…
“The highest reward that God gives us for good work is the ability to do better work.” Elbert Hubbard
Angi K Sullivan
As the program director for the Adventure program, I often have to ask myself the question “is this actually something adventurous?” Whether it’s considering where we camp, the activities we do, the way we build our Adventure community, I feel an obligation to have this program live up to its name. Something that can be challenging physically and emotionally, but also allows for beautiful moments of personal achievement and pride. In my mind, the cave is the perfect Adventure activity.
CYO Camp has been visiting “our” cave since the 1990s, a location that I frequently describe as “drive to the middle of nowhere, and then turn right.” It’s a wonderfully secluded part of the southern Indiana landscape and a place that I would imagine very few people even know about. And we get the opportunity to take campers there every single week during the summer.
I would argue that there is no other place, at least in Indiana, as otherworldly as the cave. At no other point in my life have I found myself crawling, rolling, and walking through dusty tunnels lit only by our collective headlamps. At no other outdoor experience have I been able to experience total darkness, and near-silence so overwhelming that I could hear the sound of my own heartbeat.
The cave is one of the places where I experience God most intimately. I witness God in the incredible underground landscape that we get to explore, in our campers supporting each other in the most uncomfortable points, in the way the beams of our headlamps bounce off the shiny quartz ceilings and the newly forming stalactites. And there’s one other spot where I acutely feel God’s presence. As our eyes adjust to the darkness as we descend into the cave, they focus more on shape and movement more than color, so in the cave colorful things like shirts become muted into what are mostly hues of brown and gray. But then, as we leave the cave, our eyes are so used to the darkness that they then have to readjust to the light. We walk out with our eyes down, wanting to protect ourselves from the blinding day. And then, you see the tiniest shade of green, and you get to look up. Above you, you are met by the greenest forest you’ve ever seen. Sure, it’s the same forest you left mere hours ago, but now the shades are more vivid and bright. The dirt that now coats almost the entirety of our bodies isn’t just grayish-brown, it’s a warm red-orange-brown, the proof of what we’ve just undertaken.
I can’t think of a better way to begin our Adventure week, honestly. The cave is the perfect experience to push limits, build community, try something new, and see God in a new way.
Lauren Owen, Program & Development Assistant
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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