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Campers rejoice in learning faith, making new friends

By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
(Email Katie)


MANSON – Going to Camp Cayoca has become a yearly summer activity for Alisha Schlichte, a parishioner at Assumption in Merrill.

She has been going to camp since 2003, first as a camper and this year she was a counselor at the first session of camp and the teen leader coordinator at the second session.

“I loved being at camp and being around everyone,” she said. “I had a conversion while I was here. I feel that if I can help kids realize their faith and come closer to God, then I’m doing my part and making a difference.”

As teen leader coordinator, Schlichte made sure all the programs ran smoothly and sent the teen leaders to help with anything needed.

She thinks camp is a good place for youth of the diocese to meet new people and “learn more about God. Even as an adult, I am learning things I didn’t know. There is a sense of community. It is nice for the kids to feel like they are not alone.”

Rejoice

Two sessions of Camp Cayoca were held between June 13 and 20 at the Twin Lakes Christian Center near Manson for students from the Diocese of Sioux City entering fourth through eighth grades.

Sean Martin, director of new evangelization, catechesis and family life, said camp was “joy filled” this year.

The theme was “Rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy!” from 1 Peter 1:8. Everything from the T-shirts and music to breakout sessions and everything in between incorporated the theme.

“The theme comes from Pope Francis’ document, The Joy of the Gospel,” explained Martin. “In the very first few paragraphs, he talks about inviting Jesus into a relationship, into our homes and into our hearts. He invites us to a relationship with Christ on a daily basis.”

He added the pope challenges Catholics to be “joy filled in our faith. We are to evangelize and spread the Gospel.”

“It has been very grace-filled time for both sessions with the opportunities for the sacraments of Eucharist and confession, Eucharistic adoration, sing praise and worship songs and worship the Lord,” said Martin. “There have been opportunities to pray the rosary and learn about their faith in the workshops.”

More than 180 campers attended this summer, which Martin said has continued to go down over the past five to ten years along with the number of volunteers.

“If people are wanting to have our Catholic youth camp to continue, we will need commitment from parents that they desire to send their kids to camp and also volunteer, which is what runs the camp,” said Martin. “If parents are desiring to volunteer for next summer, they can contact my office.”

He pointed out that regardless of numbers, volunteers and money, “providing sacraments, an opportunity for prayer and an opportunity to come away with the Lord and making friends with other Catholics from around the diocese, is very beneficial.”

“The fruits of the camp are great. It is worthy of doing,” said Martin. “I really appreciate everyone who have taken the time out to volunteer. They come to camp and work very hard. It is solely volunteer. They care about the kids that come and they desire to pass on the Catholic faith. It is amazing to see.”

Meeting new people

Olivia Heesch, a soon-to-be sixth grader at St. Edmond School in Fort Dodge, attended camp for the first time this year based on a recommendation from a friend who said it was fun.

She liked participating in the small group activities and thought it was “cool” to meet people from different places. Heesch said she learned about elements of being a hero “like Jesus” during one of the sessions.

This was Garrett Sarringar’s third year at camp. He likes everything about camp, especially meeting new people and having fun.

“I learned that most of the time you can make the right decisions for the right reasons, but you don’t always think you have done it that way,” said the sixth grader from St. Andrew’s in Sibley.
Michael Nafe, a parishioner at St. Michael’s in Kingsley, decided to come back to camp as a teen leader this year. He had fun when he attended as a camper, so he thought it would be good to come back and volunteer.

“I always saw the program assistants (now teen leaders) when I was a camper, so I wanted to be one,” said the almost high school junior. “They were helping out and having fun while they were doing it.”
Nafe said he likes talking about his faith at camp and being able to go to confession and adoration.

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