By Izzy Shahmirza (Camp Counselor)
(Camp St. Francis – Aptos, CA) – We had another successful camp season! Our incredible administrators, combined with our senior and assistant counselors, had the privilege of serving an energetic and intelligent group of young boys aging from five to thirteen years old at Camp Saint Francis in Aptos, California.
Throughout the month of July, Camp Saint Francis 2016 would begin each day with a morning prayer and a Salesian “Good Morning,” which would leave a positive thought about the virtue of the day. We would then head off to enjoy a delicious breakfast provided by our amazing cooks. The boys were then sent to their activity sessions, which differed each day. Our activities ranged from soccer, to outdoor sports, to archery, to arts and crafts, to skate park, and to game/reading room. After the first and second activity sessions, we either had Mass or Catechetical session, followed by lunch, rest period, and then beach time. After dinner, the boys would head into third activity session, and then be surprised with the Night Activity of the day. Each evening, there was a special Night Activity. Our Night Activities on Mondays and Tuesdays of each week differed; they ranged from a Scavenger Hunt, to an Obstacle Course, to Capture the Flag, or to a Salesian Family Game Night to name a few. Every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of each week, the campers always looked forward to Campfire, Talent Show, and Movie Night. We concluded every night with snack, Three Hail Marys, and a Salesian “Good Night,” which would leave a positive thought for the boys to go to sleep with.
I have been blessed with the wonderful opportunity to volunteer at Camp Saint Francis for three summers. During my time here, I am able to witness the positive impact that camp has on these young boys.
Camp Saint Francis exemplifies diversity. Each and every camper has a different personality, a different background, a different story. No matter who they are or where they come from, Camp Saint Francis welcomes everyone; this camp is a home away from home. Camp is an opportunity for the boys to have fun, to be silly, to catch up with old friends and make new ones, to try new activities, to discover their gifts and talents, and to create strong relationships with God. As one of the Special Activities Directors, also known as Night Activities, I have spent a lot of time with the youth. I have been able to see how the campers interact with each other and with the counselors. Whether it is during Campfire, Talent Show, Movie Night, or Crazy Wednesday, I constantly saw the campers having a smile on their faces, laughing, spreading joy and optimism, and enjoying their time with each other. The campers and counselors together have created a strong-knit family where the love of God was spread among one another.
Camp Saint Francis holds a special place in my heart. I want to thank God for the gift of these young boys. Without them, this camp would not be possible. Camp Saint Francis is an experience on its own; there are not enough words to describe the feeling that one is left with once camp is over. This feeling is the reason why so many campers and counselors find themselves back at camp every summer.
Please keep all the campers, counselors, and administrators of Camp Saint Francis in your prayers. May the campers and staff always keep the Salesian spirit close to their hearts. May the Lord bless all the youth in the world, and may we remember what Saint John Bosco taught us: “it is not enough to love the young; they must know that they are loved.”
“Until next summer… DUN-Dun-dun!”