Despite the insight gained at the inaugural Girls' Camp in April, the first Boys Camp over six days, directed by Fr. Alessio, seemed like a new experience--with eleven very active boys ranging from 7 to 12 years, who kept the five lady helpers very busy.
Pax Park proved a very suitable venue, although the partitioning of the hall into a chapel and dining; room (with curtains hung on a rope) was a mission! The abundant rock formations were great fun for the boys (albeit a cause of some consternation for the helpers). The inevitable troupe of monkeys appeared soon after our arrival, one even having the cheek to lift the lid of the dustbin outside the kitchen in his quest for food!
The devil was very busy--what's new? On arrival, the helpers learned that the camp caretaker; who helps with so much of the manual work was very ill. However, his son was able to help us a little, in between his studies. Some important items left behind were brought in by a kind parishioner in three separate trips. On the third day the cooking gas almost ran out, but replacement canisters arrived on the following day.
The boys enjoyed the games immensly, particularly "Two Flags" and "Treasure Hunt". however the baseball lessons, conducted by Fr. Alessio, were the most popular, followed closely by cricket, soccer and volley ball. The boys also enjoyed the usual trip down to the lake, which provided some game viewing. The strenuous games created big appetites needing big meals, which kept the kitchen staff busy. Hamburgers and chips were inevitably the favourite.
"Art and Craft" for the boys required some imagination. Apart from the usual colouring of a large holy picture, one of the helpers had got a carpenter to prepare some wooden plaques as well as crosses in two beams (from wood remnants) in varying sizes. The boys then glued holy pictures or prayers onto the plaques, adding their own artwork. The crossbeams were screwed together and a paper corpus (cut from a holy card) then glued onto the finished cross. Finally, the plaques and crucifixes were varnished by the boys. On the last two days. the boys learned how to make rosaries with string, although one boy was brave enough to make one decade of the rosary the hard way--with chains (for which he won points for his team).
The two teams. St. George and St. Christopher, competed fiercely, and the points made by one team. in the games were generally make up by the other team in the Catechism Quiz in the evenings. In the end, however, the St. Christopher team was the victor. The "Best Conduct" prize was won by Matthew Glenwiiliamson, with Daniel Berenger as runner-up.
The evening campfire singing to Father's usual accompaniment on the guitar was great fun, and it is hoped to include some songs learned by the boys and girls at the camps in a concert planned for Bishop Williamson in November. Toasting marshmallows on the bonfire every second night was a great favourite.
The boys' comportment and devotion improved very noticeably over the six days. One boy remarked that he had learned more catechism from Fr. Alessio in a week than he had learned in the whole previous year. The almost unanimous pet dislike had been the period of silence from bed-time until breakfast the next day. One boy (bless his heart) said he had enjoyed absolutely everything about the camp: the food, the games, the catechism, the lot. (Another little boy said he did not want to go home at the end of it!)
The next camp (for girls) is planned far the same venue in the April school holidays next year.
The Eucharistic Crusade in S.A. for girls took place at the very comfortable South Coast holiday residence of a Roodepoort parish family (we've came a long way from bivvies and billy cans). Twelve girls took part under the direction of your longsuffering servant, capably helped however by our two Oblates and Mrs. Kahn (despite her crutches).
The format for the Girls' camp was pretty much that of the Boys' camp in Zimbabwe, with the exception that we couldn't make outdoor fires and so couldn't toast marshmallows. Mores the pity.
What we could do
though was swim in the sea (10 minutes walk away), play team games on
the beach, and have boat races with hired boats (special group reduction--the
lady was very kind) on a nearby lagoon. What was memorable about the boat
races was that about only half the contestants managed to finish; your
servant eventually rowed out to retrieve the others.
The favourite game of the girls was the Two Flags--a noholds-barred war game originally designed for Boy Scouts. I had suggested crochering and needlework, but that didn't go down so well. Another event much appreciated was a visit to a neighbouring crocodile farm, with dozens of the beasties waddling about like dinosaurs. Crocodile rides are free, it seems, but there were no takers there either.
The crocodile farm. They were seen much closer up toe.
To my mind the two most important elements of a camp are the zeal for prayer and the spirit of fraternal charity, and both were very much present this time round (as for the other times). One or two girls are newcomers to Catholicism, and I feel that what they experienced left a good and lasting impression on them. Many thanks to all who took part, and see you neat year.
Anyone fancy the