Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Why Camp Maccabee Now?

Scandals within an institution have a tendency to cast suspicion on any and all parts of that institution. The Catholic Church is not exempt from that. Furthermore, any thing to do with youth, especially young men (who made up the majority of victims in the sexual abuse scandal within the Church), comes under additional scrutiny. It should.  The camp that I lead is no exception.

Why then, should you fiscally support, prayerfully support, or send your high school son to this Camp?  Why not just shut it down in such an atmosphere?

Why Camp Maccabee was Founded

Let's start with the why the camp was founded. The camp was founded in 2009.  The scars of the opening salvo of the scandal where still very much in mind. Many within the Church's ministerial roles had adopted the procedures put forth by the Dallas Charter on the Protection of  Youth.  There was a palatable fear, though, among those who worked with youth about working with youth. Founding a camp to work with the one group that had been the major target of the abuse was a risky proposition.

That said, the camp was founded because so many young men within our Church were failing to grow into leaders. I noticed this with doing recruitment for priestly vocations and in working with young couples for matrimony. The idea of virtue was not where one would hope for those looking at a sacramental vocation. I saw this, as well, in the work I was doing with annulments. We saw young men drifting. We also noticed that these young men wanted little to do with the Church.  Many were drawn to sports. I noticed this long before 2002.

I started paying attention to the message we give young men in our classrooms and churches.  Their coaches, if they play sports, challenge them.  They tell them to give their best, push themselves, and succeed. Their coaches, the good one at least, were pushing teamwork, fellowship, and interdependence. These, of course, are the things that make a great team a great team. What were they hearing from us?  Be nice. Be nice ad naseum. We were not challenging them.  We were not calling them to faith.  We weren't calling them to heroism or greatness. They needed us to sound more like a coach and less like a children's TV program.   We were getting the young male leadership we were forming.  

What Do We Do?

The Camp is a Sunday through Friday camp. That is not a lot of time in a young man's life.  That is 117 hours of the 8736 hours that young man has throughout a year.  That is time to sow a few seeds. We have to make the time count.

First, we realize that most young men have loads of energy.  We use that to our advantage much like a coach does. The days include some type of expending of physical energy, all of which has some deeper lesson.  Some activities are meant to build teamwork and interdependence. We want to teach them that building a team means bring out the best in each other and lending help to those who are deficient in an area. They have a warrior dash (mile long obstacle course), low ropes course, rock climbing, and archery to help build up that sense of teamwork. They have a 7 mile float trip to build up a sense of comradery. They learn to fly fish as a lesson in patience.

Second, we realize in the midst of these activities, we must plants those seeds of virtue.  We see masculinity as a matter of growing in the corporal and theological virtues. We will use some text through the week to drive this home. We will sprinkle it through small talks and homilies. We tell them that being a leader is learning to virtuously serve and not be served. You want to talk about a message that flies in the face of the causes of the abuse scandal in the Church!  A man of virtue doesn't abuse.  He doesn't prey on his flock. He protects them.

Third, we realize that they must understand that it not merely by their own efforts, or even the efforts of their team, that they succeed.  Without God, their motives, however noble they be, will fall short.  Prayer is central to the camp.  To be a leader in the Church, whether it be a s a layman or as a cleric, requires a selfless man of God. Daily mass, Morning, Evening, and Night prayer, are part of the daily schedule. Time for Eucharistic Adoration, Confession, Rosary, Stations of the Cross, and such are scattered throughout the week. One cannot be a virtuous leader in the Church without a prayerful relationship with God.

We make clear that Christ and His Church call them to excellence...that each young man is called to virtue.  If they understand this, then the type of husband, dad, or priest they will be is greatly effected.

Why Support Us?

Not every young man who passes through the Camp gets it.  I would like to tell you they each do, but that is not the case. That might seem a odd thing to say.  The camp understands that the worlds these young men come from shift. We only have them for 5 and a half days. The Governing Board of the Camp keeps evaluating what works and what doesn't work.  We keep looking at how we can be better.

The camp, from its inception, has been completely (maybe even militantly) compliant with the Dallas Charter.  No person who interacts with these young is allowed to do so until they have done the required Protecting God's Children/Virtus training.  Staff is vetted.  Staff is warned that any immoral interaction will be treated with such and criminal behavior will be directly referred to local law enforcement immediately. We run a tight ship.  This year, we are instituting better guidelines in the training of staff and procedures for discipline.

The leadership of the Camp receives no payment for their duties. A modest stipend is offered to our college age staff as a recognition that most have to take time off of necessary jobs to help us. Monies raised go to the running of the camp and the upkeep of material needed for the camp.

The camp holds fast to the Deposit of the Faith.  What we teach is fully in line with the teachings of the Church.  Both in liturgical practice and in materials used, we do not diverge from the Church. Anyone who supports us should know that we don't monkey around with, water down, or rebel against any teaching of the Church, including her sexuality morality. We want to raise men of virtue, not worldly hedonists.  

Why Send Your Son?

I tell the parents who have children in my parochial school or PSR/CCD programs that we view ourselves as partners with you in the Catholic formation of your children. I know many of you reading want to raise young virtuous men who will be the leaders God calls them to be.  If you son is called to matrimony, I know you want to raise a son who will be an awesome and faithful husband and an awesome dad who will teach his children to be leaders as well. If your son is called to priesthood, I know you want a son who will be seen as a true virtuous leader who will protect and provide for whatever flock is assigned him. We, at Camp Maccabee, want that as well!

We want leaders.  Your son needs to hear that from his church.  Your doesn't need to be nice by his church, he needs to be told to be heroic. He needs to be rallied to virtue.  He needs to be told and shown a path of relationship with Christ.

The camp is not for everyone.  It is a physically demanding camp. We do adjust for some limitations. However, even then, we challenge as much as we can. No electronic devices are allowed.  No phones, no tablets, no portable music or gaming devices. There are some disciplinary problems that might make the camp not an option.  We will work with what we get, but 5 days is not enough to shift an entire lifetime.  It is a moment to sow godly seed.

Details, Details, Details...

The camps for 2019 are June16th to 21st, June 22nd  to 28th, and July 21st to 26th.  The camper needs to be there by 1PM on Sunday and will be released at noon on Friday. We are based out of St. Robert, Missouri. We spend two nights elsewhere.  One night is in Camdenton, Mo.  The other night is at Montauk State Park near Licking, Missouri.

The cost of the camp is $150.00 per camper.  No young man will be turned away from the camp because of funds.  The actual cost per camper last year was $483. The difference comes from generous contributors.  That includes everything necessary for the camp: food, transportation, equipment, venues, junior staff, and insurance.  While we are connected with the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri, we receive no funding from them nor do we ask from funding from them.

While we have been able to take some young men with milder physical limitations and take young men who are higher on the Autism spectrum, we are not equipped to take anything more challenging.

No camp is perfect.  Some young men have loved this experience.  Some have hated it. We do our level best to make this a strong, spiritual, and positive experience.  More information can be found at our website  

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