I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to attend our Diocesan camp, Camp Nazareth in three very different capacities over the years. First, as a camper, second as a member of the Camp Nazareth staff, and most recently, as a priest, serving as one of the chaplains. Each of these experiences has been completely different and offered a unique perspective of life at Camp Nazareth. One thing was a constant however. No matter what capacity I have attended our camp, I have been able to truly see God work within our youth. When Bartholomew was skeptical of Jesus in the Gospel of John, Philip said just three words to him: “Come and see” (John 1:46). When our young people return home from Camp, they are full of stories and things to share, and we listen. Sometimes, listening isn’t enough. Sometimes we have to see for ourselves. A brother priest of mine once remarked how wonderful it would be if the parents of the children who attend Camp could spend a week there themselves, free of the distractions of the world.
Our Camp is a truly miraculous place. Lives are transformed. How else can you explain that in spite of rising college costs, the Camp continues to attract the cream of the Diocesan crop to work on its staff, when they could easily find better paying jobs at home? How else can you explain that despite a society where are youth are bombarded by technology, they willingly leave it all behind, not just for one week, but increasingly for two and even three weeks at a time?
I was speaking recently with a parent whose children’s camping years are now behind them. She still sees the impact it has had on her own children and the children attending today. “I am overwhelmed with joy” she told me “that camp reaches into the hearts of our youth and helps them find God and their own personal peace.”
As attendance numbers continue to rise, and the Holy Spirit continues to guide the camp, we have to focus our attention on those who have yet to see. Many of our Diocesan youth have not experienced a week at Camp. Many of our Diocesan faithful have not visited for Family Day, the Diocesan Pilgrimage, or even to stop in to see our outstanding summer camp program in action. To all of those, or even to those who have been but not seen in some time, we invite you: COME AND SEE!