Catholic Herald staff
“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” This was the theme for the 2017 Extreme Faith Camp sessions that took place in June at CrossWoods Camp in Mason and Crescent Lake Bible Camp in Rhinelander.
The mission of Extreme Faith Camp is to provide an experience where middle school teens can encounter Christ, especially in the Eucharist and in His Church. For high school leaders and chaperones, EFC gives an opportunity for meaningful service and growth in discipleship.
A total of 271 people attended the two camp sessions; 132 at CrossWoods and 139 at the Crescent Lake site. In all, there were 155 middle school age participants, 28 students on the prayer teams, 31 high school leaders, and 60 adults. Camp director was Chris Hurtubise, associate director of Catholic Formation for the Diocese of Superior.
“The goal of Extreme Faith Camp is to provide an encounter with Christ and His Body the Church that changes lives forever,” Hurtubise said. “But we also know that authentic, long-lasting change doesn’t happen in a moment or in a day or in a week – it takes time to root.
Accordingly, we do everything we can at camp to build relationships with peers, with high school leaders and with adults that the campers can lean on for continued discipleship and mentorship with they get home.”
To achieve those goals, the camp director is assisted by a dynamic team of chaplains; quality musicians; chaperones who engage in relational ministry; high school Extreme Team leaders who are with campers around the clock; and the high school Prayer Team.
The Prayer Team spends the week interceding on behalf of all participating, especially the campers, in prayer and adoration. To be an Extreme Faith Camp Team Leader, high schoolers are required to spend their first year on the Prayer Team. Besides doing behind-the-scene service and being trained in peer leadership, these young men and women are intensely trained in a life of discipleship. This process instills the primacy of prayer in all ministry work.
Mary Clare Stroh provided the music for both camps. There were seven priests and one deacon who helped with the west side camp and nine priests with two deacons for the east side. Totus Tuus team leaders also assisted the leadership team.
Chris Hurtubise’s hope, and the vision of Extreme Faith Camp, is “that camp serves as a diving board to propel the participants into a deeper, richer life of discipleship when they get home; investing more intentionally in the sacramental life of the Church and in a life of prayer and in the local Catholic community of their parishes.”
Extensive preparations take place before camp even opens. High school leaders participate in a spring leadership training weekend. The week of camp is the primary place of encounter for all the participants with Christ and his grace in the sacraments. But the real fruits of the camps are witnessed once the event itself is over.
Hurtubise continued, “And praise God, we have seen this come to fruition over the past few years as more and more young people attend camp and go on to serve as prayer team members and as high school leaders. Our parishes are seeing beautiful, sustained growth take place. The young adults that grew up coming to camp are active in their parishes, they are serving as Totus Tuus missionaries, as NET [National Evangelization Team] missionaries, as camp counselors, and they are seeking out deeper and deeper ways to grow in their faith on college campuses.”
For those participants whose local parishes have strong youth programs, their Extreme Faith Camp attendance becomes part of larger support system for young people, and their parents, to grow in life-long faith integration.
Dates for the 2018 camp sessions are yet to be determined. Information on the camp, including a testimonial video is available at catholicdos.org/extreme-faith-camp.
In the words of participants
“Camp is a place where kids on all different journeys of their faith life can come together and unite under a common theme: Jesus.” (John, 15)
“I won’t forget the joy of being able to help these young guys experience and encounter Jesus. It was far more rewarding to give of myself and let others receive, than for only me to receive.” (Ben, 16)
“I’ve been going to camp since 2011 when I was 12. The encounters I’ve had since then have defined me not only as a Catholic but as a daughter of God.” (Lilli, 18)
“Adoration with your friends is really different from with your family. It was more fun and spirit-building than I have ever experienced.”
“One important thing that I took away from Extreme Faith Camp is that the more God you have in your life, the more complete you feel.” (Anna, 14)
“I love getting the opportunity to lead a group of beautiful young ladies. I love watching them grow with Christ throughout the week and build bonds with their sisters in Christ.” (Jessi, 18)
“Camp is always so fulfilling. I always leave with a full heart and soul.” (Cassidy, 17)
“I experienced God when I was on the high ropes course. Without God, I would still be on the course.” (Anya, 17)
“Extreme Faith Camp creates amazing prayer habits.” (Alex, 13)
“The experience is so amazing. Everyone here is so nice and encouraging, especially the leaders, which I’m positive all the campers look up to.” (Gianna, 14)
“This year I was on Prayer Team and it was incredible. Through praying for others, God blessed my own life in many amazing ways. It was such a gift.” (JulieAnne, 15)
“For me, reconciliation was really powerful. I could feel the Holy Spirit in me.” (Isabelle, 12)
“I’ve gone to camp for five years now and each year I rediscover Christ in a whole new way through prayer, games, worship, Mass, and building friendships. I wish every kid had the chance to experience this.” (Allison)