Remsen students become God strong at boot camp
By RENEE WEBB, Globe senior reporter
REMSEN – Decked out in camouflage shirts, grade school students at St. Mary’s School participated in a Boot Camp for the Body and Soul on March 26.
The activity was facilitated by the school’s Christian Leadership Team (CLT), which is made up of 14 high school students.
Erik Willman, a senior and member of the CLT team, said the activity was good because it helped the younger students “see how their lifestyle affects their relationship with God.”
According to Jennifer Ahlers, a junior, students in TK through fourth grade participated in five stations focused on physical, nutritional, hygiene, mental and spiritual components.
When planning the event, the CLT members wanted to show how God was part of their everyday lives. They facilitated activities at the five stations and then conveyed a message or lesson to the younger students that tied in with their faith lives and God.
The goal was for them to become “God Strong” as was the message printed on the front of their camo shirts.
“We made little bracelets that have saint medals,” noted Ahlers, who helped to run the spiritual station. “We had the medals blessed and so the saints will be with those kids wherever they go when they wear the bracelets.”
Lindsie Schorg, a senior and member of the CLT team, said they gave the students toothpaste and a toothbrush, stressing God’s desire for them to have a clean mouth with no foul language.
For the physical station, students raced through an inflatable obstacle course provided by the National Guard.
They did this with a partner, sending the message of helping each other just as God and Jesus helps them daily.
“The hygiene station was a glitter project,” Ahlers noted. “Students will put their hands in glitter and then shake each other’s hands to show that germs can spread. But we also want to show that God’s love can spread through one another.”
The nutrition station sent the message that they needed to feed themselves through healthy ways, just like the word of God fills them spiritually.
Maria Russell, a fourth grader, said she liked participating in the boot camp because it taught them how to be healthier, exercise and learn about God.
“It was a lot of fun and we got to do tons of stuff,” she said.
Alex Schroeder, a third grader, said he was happy the older students organized the activity. He especially liked making the bracelet “where we picked a saint and put beads on it with a string.” The student added that it would help them remember about the saints.
Not only did the CLT members get to work with the younger students through the event, but Willman said they were able to build teamwork among the group.
This is the second year St. Mary’s had held a boot camp for the young students, noted Mary Arens, spiritual director at the school and theology teacher. Last year’s event was planned by one member of the CLT and was presented on a smaller scale, but because it was such a success Arens felt it would be a great project for the entire team.
The 70-75 grade school students participated in the boot camp in two sessions. As the sessions ended, they called upon St. Michael the Archangel to come to their defense.
Members of the CLT team, added Ahlers, were rewarded by the smiles and excitement of the younger students.
“It was a great way for us to have time with the younger students because we don’t get to interact with them very often,” Schorg said.
Arens stressed the importance of empowering the high school students to lead the project and said their faith was strengthened just as much by leading the activity as that of the younger students who were on the receiving end.
“We can get so caught up in society today with the physical aspects of who we are, but we need to nourish that soul as much as our body,” said Arens, who would love to see this remain an annual event.
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