History, Mission & Vision

Catholic Youth Summer Camp is a program of Damascus. 


At Damascus, our mission is to awaken, empower, and equip a generation to live the adventure of the Catholic faith through world-class programs and an environment of encounter.

The vision for Damascus began in 2001 with the inception of Catholic Youth Summer Camp (CYSC), a faith-awakening summer camp parish initiative of St. Andrew Church.

CYSC was a response to a legitimate need expressed by parents desiring an environment of encounter for their children that was rooted within the Catholic tradition, a joy filled environment that would challenge young people to live the adventure of their Catholic faith through an encounter with Jesus Christ and His Church.

What began as one week of summer camp grew over 15 years to 8 sessions of camp serving over 1000 campers from many dioceses at three different leased campsites.  CYSC had maximized every site available for lease in Central Ohio, and needed to expand to meet its growing demand, having made advances into the active service of young people with special needs as well as outreach to inner-city youth. 

CYSC was incorporated as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation with the permission of Bishop Frederick Campbell in 2006, and in 2015, the Catholic Youth Summer Camp Campership Endowment Fund was established with The Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of Columbus in order to provide for families in financial need.

In the summer of 2016, under the leadership and generosity of a visionary team of benefactors, Damascus Catholic Mission Campus was built on 471 acres in Centerburg OH as the first permanent home of Catholic Youth Summer Camp. Within months of it’s opening, Damascus has impacted thousands of lives, hosted dozens of retreats, and served a variety of vibrant Catholic ministries. 

It had become clear through due diligence prior to construction, that central Ohio needed more than just a summer camp.  Damascus was built to provide year-round retreat and conference options with lodging for 140, a lodge with full kitchen, cafeteria and fully featured auditorium.

We dreamed big.  God dreamed bigger.

What had been estimated to meet demand for three years of growth was filled within the first three months of opening registration for the 2016 season. Thus in 2017, a second phase of construction added 2 beautiful lakeside retreat centers that serve retreat groups year-round, bringing total occupancy to over 2500 campers. 

Damascus is serving thousands annually in new and powerful retreat ministry programs, and is forming and training a community of young adult missionaries that are bringing revival to every area of ministry culture.

Ongoing camper registration has proved to us that God desires the revival of his church even more than we do.  Even with a third phase of cabins that doubled capacity to 500 campers per week, registration for CYSC each year has continued to fill within days (or hours) of opening. Praise the Lord for his generosity!

Since 2021 the mission has expanded nationally and will bring the CYSC experience to two additional sites for 2023: CYSC Northwoods, serving the Minnesota-Wisconsin region; and CYSC Great Lakes in Michigan. We hope that the coming years will bring many more opportunities to serve the need for ongoing renewal of the Church in America!

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