Luc Douglas from St. Patrick Parish in Hudson shares a testimony about the power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation with Extreme Faith Camp attendees at Crescent Lake Bible Camp in Rhinelander. Afterward, 11 priests heard confessions. In total, more than 22 priests and seven deacons participated over the three weeks of camp that took place this summer. (Submitted photo)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald staff

“The Holy Spirit seems to be doing something really fruitful with the camp,” said the diocese’s director of the Office of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship, Chris Hurtubise, at the conclusion of the 2022 Extreme Faith Camp season.

With another huge jump in participation – from 334 in 2021 to 405 this summer – he added, “Numbers aren’t everything, but we’ve experienced growth by volume, by parish participation and by every other metric with this camp in ways that you just don’t see.”

“One of the things I love most about camp,” Hurtubise said, “is that it’s not just a static thing; we are constantly striving to be docile to the Holy Spirit continually refining our methods so that we can ever more richly impact young people in our disciple-making mission.”

This year’s theme was “Rescued,” loosely based on the book “Rescued” by Fr. John Riccardo, priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit and founder of ACTS XXIX. Fr. Riccardo advocates engaging with Catholics, both lay and priests, to revisit the good news of Jesus and rediscover the wonder of salvation. Extreme Faith Camp participants experienced a five-day walk through the basic message of the Gospel guided by the Michigan priest’s powerful preaching.

The Catholic Herald asked for testimonies from some of the numerous adult chaperones and volunteer leaders. Following are their experiences.

Krystal Montgomery, Cumberland, who attended as director of religious education for the clustered parishes of St. Anthony in Cumberland, St. Ann in Turtle Lake and Sacred Heart in Almena:

“Wow! Thank you, thank you, thank you! What a blessing it is to have such a place to go and an opportunity within our diocese to be fully immersed in our faith!

It was the most exhausting, amazing, and joyful week I have ever been a part of! I was definitely not fully prepared for the experience. We were able to step out of our comfort zones and dive head-on into our faith.
The relationships we formed, the adventures we had, and the growth we all experienced in our faith is something I don’t think will ever leave any of us. We were able to unplug (there was no service anyway) and be fully present to walk with each other on this journey. I know that I am forever changed by this experience, and I can’t wait to go again!”

Christine Bruce, Spooner, who attended as a chaperone for St. Francis de Sales parish in Spooner:

“The reason I said ‘yes’ to be a chaperone for the first time at the EFC is that I expected it to be a deeply religious experience and it certainly was! I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to attend and fully immerse in the spiritual life of the camp, a detox from the outside world.

It was a joy to witness so many young people engaging in and strengthening their faith. The camp allowed them the chance to have a great time with all the fun activities planned, but Jesus was at the focus of all we did.
It was such a prayerful week shared with such wonderful people!”

Pat Haines, Shell Lake, who attended as a chaperone for St. Francis de Sales parish in Spooner and candidate for ordination to the permanent deaconate.

“I asked to chaperone at Extreme Faith Camp in June of 2022 for a couple of reasons. One was to gain more experience with our youth and to broaden my experience with our youth. The other was to be there for my daughter and to help her feel more comfortable at camp.

I have chaperoned a Steubenville Conference in the past and have attended other youth gatherings with my parish cluster. The Steubenville conference was the final straw that I knew God was calling me to the diaconate.
The youth have always inspired me, and I am convinced that they are the real lifeblood for the future of our church. It may seem that the reasons for chaperoning may be a little selfish, but in reality, I truly enjoy helping our youth navigate their way through our beautiful faith.

Like God often does, we are rewarded many times more than what we put in or maybe feel we deserve. God works through people, and he is certainly working through the youth of our diocese. We need to keep our youth engaged and proud of their Catholic faith.”