By Bro. Quang Nguyen, SDB
Many people look forward to summer every year. People look forward to vacations with their families and friends, and some simply want to rest. Students still in school look forward to three months break from studying to spend time with families, and friends, and rejuvenate before going back to school.
Summer is not only for vacation and rest but also a time when youth attend summer camps. We have summer camps every year all over the province, one in particular is San Luis Rey Camp in Laredo, Texas, also known as Camp SLR. Many of us may forget or disregard it because most of our Salesian ministries are active in California. This past summer, San Luis Rey held five weeks of camp consisting of over 200 campers, animators, and counselors from all over the City of Laredo each week with the theme “Do all through Love”. With the same love of St. Francis de Sales and the community of Laredo, the SLR parish held the largest youth summer program among all the parishes in the diocese of Laredo. I was fortunate to accompany the campers and animators at Camp SLR. (Despite the daily 110 degrees heat).
I believe that this camp season at Camp SLR truly exemplified the Salesian Family Spirit. The animators arrived at the youth center and were ready to welcome the campers with smiles, joy, and enthusiasm every morning. At camp, everyone felt at home and did not want to leave at the end of the day. The environment for fostering lifelong friendships was built among everyone because of the authentic spirit of family and hospitality along with showing which house is the best and competing to win the Aztec Cup. The joyous spirit continued to carry out the camp day in prayers, masses, Salesian good morning, house bonding/times, games, theme days, field trips, and meals together. The campers, animators, and I were able to learn about and find Christ in all things we did at camp. It was a great experience to witness this camp as an Oratory where everyone felt belonged and was accepted with love.
Camp San Luis Rey has concluded this season full of hope and love. Meanwhile, let us offer all campers, animators, and counselors with prayers and thanksgiving to Don Bosco and Mary Help Christians for their dedication, presence, time, and resources to make Camp SLR a home for many young people.