Pre-Camp Blessing of the Campers
It would be great if the parish priest could have the youth who are going to attend CYSC to all come to the same mass and stand up at some point for a blessing or you can do this at youth group before camp. The below blessing can be shorten to fit your time frame.
Priest: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Priest: May God, our strength and salvation, be with you all.
All: And with your spirit
Priest: Brothers and sisters, as we set out on this trip to Catholic Youth Summer Camp, we should remind ourselves of the reasons for our resolve to go. While the high adventure activities allow us to embrace the resurrected joy of our Christian faith, we recognize that in this trip we will be given the opportunity to encounter the living God in a new way. Be attentive to the words Christ wishes to speak to you this year at camp, and be attentive to the ways he is calling you to change, the ways he is calling you to live your faith more vibrantly for the sake of his kingdom.
READING OF THE WORD OF GOD
A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew: (Matt. 4:18-22)
“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Priest: God is the beginning and the end of life’s pilgrimage. Let us call on him with confidence, saying:
- Lord, be the companion of our journey.
Reader: Father all-holy, of old you made yourself the guide and the way for your people as they wandered in the desert; be our protection as we begin this journey, so that we may return home again in safety. (For this we pray:) R.
Reader: You have given us your only Son to be our way to you; make us follow him faithfully and unswervingly. (For this we pray:) R.
Reader: You gave us Mary as the image and model for following Christ; grant that through her example we may live a new life. (For this we pray:) R.
Reader: You guide your pilgrim Church on earth through the Holy Spirit; may we seek you in all things and walk always in the way of your commandments. (For this we pray:) R.
Reader: You lead us along right and peaceful paths; grant that we may one day see you face to face in heaven. (For this we pray:) R.
PRAYER OF BLESSING
All-powerful God, you always show mercy toward those who love you and you are never far away for those who seek you. Remain with your servants on this holy trip to Catholic Youth Summer Camp and guide their way in accord with your will. Awaken in them a sincere desire to love and serve you and the holy Catholic Church more fully. Shelter them with your protection by day, give them the light of your grace by night, and, as their companion on the journey, bring them to their destination in safety.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Priest: May the Lord guide us and direct our journey in safety.
Priest: May the Lord be our companion along the way.
Priest: May the Lord grant that the journey we begin, relying on him, will end happily through his protection.
Collecting Prayer Support
There is a unique opportunity to help the parents of campers become more involved in praying for the campers from your parish or school. Below are a number of ways to involve parents in pray during the week of CYSC.
Option 1 – Pray for a Day:
Make a list of the days that campers from your parish and school will be at CYSC and find one family for each day that will be dedicated to prayer and fasting for the campers from parish or school. If you have a large number of campers, you may want to have two or three families each taking one day.
Option 2 – 6 Hours that will change lives:
Arrange with the parish priest to offer one holy hour each day while the campers from your parish or school are at camp. If they are all there the same week of camp, you could have 6 days of consecutive holy hours that you ask all the parents to at least come to one. Night after night, parents gather in prayer before the blessed sacrament to pray for the deeper conversion of your parish and school and the campers present at CYSC.
Option 3 – Mary’s Mantel:
Another option is to email the parents of all the campers and ask that they take time to pray the rosary every day while the parish/school children are at camp. The more parents offering Rosaries up each day, the more grace will abound!
Option 4 – Spiritually Adopt A Camper:
Post on a parish/school bulletin board the names of the youth attending Catholic Youth Summer Camp and the days they will be at camp. Ask parishioners to each take a name and pray for that child while they are at camp. You may want to post multiple names of the campers so that more than one parishioner can spiritually adopt a camper. The nice thing about this is that you are including the whole parish community in this prayer effort and not just the parents.
Catholic Youth Sumer Camp is one week out of the year. We know that we are only a small part of each of the campers faith journey and spiritual development. It is up to the parishes and schools to do the hard work on on-going formation and education. Hopefully these ideas will help the campers make a solid transition from camp to parish and school ministry.
CYSC Camper Connect Night:
As summer is ending and students are ready to head back to school, consider hosting a dinner for your campers. Invite your campers (and maybe their families) to the parish one night for a nice formal dinner or even just a pizza party, prayer and discussion as a way to help the students get excited to practically live out what they learned at CYSC.
During dinner you could use the discussion questions below to get the kids thinking about specific ways they can share their faith after having gone to CYSC.
It would also be a great idea to invite people from the parish who can share with the students about their ministries and help them find ways to get involved (e.g. Youth Minister to share with them about Youth Group, DRE to get classroom helpers for Sunday School and VBS, the person in charge of training altar servers, lectors, and Eucharistic Ministers, etc.)
Don’t forget to invite your priest! He can offer the students a blessing as they head into the new school year!
1. What did I hear God speak to me this summer?
2. Where was I when God was speaking? (For a lot of them they will hear God speaking in Adoration, daily Mass and Confession. It will be good to encourage them to continue frequenting the Sacraments! Many others will also have heard God in their small group. Sometimes students go home and stop talking about God with one another, encourage them to keep it up! Maybe even to set up times to hang out with their camp small group throughout the year to be refreshed and strengthened!)
3. What commitments will I make to prayer this year?
4. What ways can I better love and live out my faith in my family?
5. What ways can I get more involved in my parish?
6. What ways can I serve God and share my faith in my school?
7. Who are people that I can seek out to help me continue growing in my faith?
Family Holy Hours:
Often, CYSC campers come home so excited about their faith that they are even spur a greater desire in their parents to live out their faith more intentionally. We have seen that campers who come home to families who encourage their faith journey are all the more likely to remain faithful disciples after leaving camp. It is so important to also support the faith life of the entire family not only the youth. Creatively think of ways to support family life – Check and see what activities your parish already has (Men’s Fellowship, Parent Prayer Groups, Bible Studies, Family Rosaries, etc.) and see how you can help fill a need!
The U.S. Bishops encouraged parishes across the country to start once-a-month “Family Holy Hours”. Talk to your priest about a time that could be set aside to expose our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and advertise this to the families! Calling the families of campers may be a good place to start getting families to attend because adoration is such an important part of the children’s camp experience. Let them know that it’s okay if the kids aren’t perfectly quiet! The priest may also want to read a gospel passage and preach a homily and hear confessions during this holy hour. Another option is to have a lay person share a scripture reflection as a source of guided meditation.
If you would like to plan an event to encourage your parents to really rise up to the challenge of being the primary catechist of the home and living the domestic church, contact our Director of Evangelization, Dan DeMatte (Dan@cysc.com).
Live The Adventure Cards:
At the end of camp each year, we have the campers fill out ‘Live the Adventure Cards.’ The campers spend time in prayerful silence meditating on how they are going to live the adventure of their faith beyond their one week camp experience. These cards are then sent to the pastor of the parish and he is asked to share them with the principal and youth minister. If you have a desire to see these cards, please ask your pastor! The value of these cards is that you are clued into the faith experience the children had and you are able to help keep them committed to the resolutions they have made.
Successful youth ministry programs allow campers to surround themselves with the environment and the people they need to help continue living the adventure of their faith throughout middle school and high school. The more time, effort, and money invested in youth ministry will bear eternal results. If you don’t have a youth group at your parish, let us know! We’d love to help you in any way we can to start something for your middle school or high school students! We have worked with campers and parents from other parishes in the past to help form successful youth ministry programs for those parishes. For more information, contact our Director of Evangelization, Dan DeMatte (Dan@cysc.com).
Plan a Youth Group or Middle School Retreat:
CYSC has a team of ministers who can come to your parish or school to run a parish retreat or middle school retreat. The themes of these retreats can vary, but often we run retreats based on Confirmation, Dignity of the Human Person, The Kingdom of God, Evangelization, Leadership Formation, Social Teaching of the Church, Theology of the Body, Prayer and Sacraments, etc. For more information, contact our Director of Evangelization, Dan DeMatte (Dan@cysc.com).