It would be a lie to call this past week of camp easy. It would also be a lie to call this past week of camp a "good week". This week, to be completely honest was a battle. The struggle with running a youth camp with primarily high school age volunteers is that our volunteers need camp almost more than our campers do.
Most of the staff do not attend Mass regularly, willingly. Many of them only go to Confession or Adoration at camp. They come to camp each summer seeking the Lord's presence because it is one of the few places that they actually feel connected to God. They don't know how to connect to God away from camp.
And this breaks my heart.
Each Sunday at training, I have to inform the staff they are no longer the priority. That they are essentially responsible for their own spiritual well-being this week and that camp is no longer for them, but for their campers. As much as I would love to make camp into a teen retreat as well as a children's retreat, it is impossible to do so without losing sight of what camp is for; our campers. Making it a teen retreat would mean that the staff would become those being ministered to instead of being the ministers. Our teens, particularly in this diocese, are hurting for more youth ministers, more volunteers, more retreats, more opportunities to grow in their faith. Camp is volunteer opportunity for teens but our teens need people to volunteer for them.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Each week, I return for camp to a world that is tearing itself apart, refusing to see past the end of its own nose. We only see our needs, our wants, our desires. How do I teach fifteen through twenty year-olds to do that when their world does not? Their youth ministers are hit and miss, their priests are at times, unreliable, their opportunities to grow closer to God are few and few in between. How can they be good and faithful servants when those around them, that they should be learning this from, are not?
The positive that came from this week was a hot and righteous indignation at what we are teaching our teens and children. I can do better at showing our youth how to volunteer and work outside of my comfort zone. More adults can volunteer at camps, PSRs, and RCIAs. More priests can volunteer for confessions at camp, Teens Encounter Christ (TEC), and the Diocesan Youth Conference (DYC). We need volunteers, we need the Body of Christ to do what we were called to do. To be His Hands, His Lips, His Heart. We need to create the positivity in our world. Those just, pure, honorable, lovely, gracious things won't happen unless we do them.