Girls experience Christ-centered week seeing the needs of others and the world

This is the third story in a four-part series featuring different Catholic summer activities for youths.

If you’ve been searching for a fun way to help your daughter grow in her faith, look no further.

Challenge Summer Camp will be held June 23-28 on 320 acres at Buckhorn Camp in the northern Colorado town of Bellvue. The program is directly affiliated with weekly Challenge Club meetings, which empower girls to be leaders in their faith and in the world.

Challenge Club teams focus on a virtue-based curriculum while also implementing service projects. Whether it’s engaging in an experimental activity or Gospel reflection, the girls always have a purpose in the meetings.

“If they go see a movie, they talk about the virtue in it and if it was good or bad,” said Mona Chase, program director. “The teams try to make everything formative.”

Think of Challenge Summer Camp as a weeklong Challenge meeting. For six days and five nights, participants are able to forget about the world and enjoy building their relationship with God in a new way.

“It’s so transforming,” said Chase. “The camp helps them refocus and re-center their lives on Christ. We try to get them to see the needs of others and the world through Christ.”

Chase can attest to the power of the camp not only as program director, but as a parent. Her daughters attended the program when they were younger.

Both are now leaders of Challenge Summer Camp.

“When we were younger, our leaders were so inspiring,” said Chase’s daughter Rebecca. “That’s what encouraged us.”

Mornings at camp typically consist of breakfast, Morning Prayer and some sort of activity. Daily Mass and lunch precede an afternoon of sports and different activities.

Last year, the big hit was “Messy Olympics,” where campers participated in team challenges with paint all over themselves. The program’s talent show, another crowd pleaser, allows everyone to perform some of their God-given talents in front of the whole group.

Evenings are more geared toward reflection. Before dinner together, the leaders and participants say a decade of the rosary. After the rosary, the girls take part in some sort of night activity.

“It’s always one of their favorite parts of camp,” said Chase’s daughter, Anna. “All the girls love it.”

Campers come together once more for night prayers before going to bed.

The final day of the program represents the pinnacle for the girls.

Following a scenic hike in the afternoon, the group takes part in “Masquerade Night.” The girls get their hair and makeup done in addition to decorating special cupcakes.

The night ends in solidarity as participants carry lighted lanterns down a field for a special eucharistic procession.

Those interested in attending Challenge Summer Camp can look forward to the program’s theme, which is unique each year.

Attendees in 2013 were given the message of “connect” by their leaders. During each day of the week, the girls were encouraged to connect to God, themselves and others.

The Chase sisters saw the effectiveness of that.

“Through each other, you find him in a deeper way,” Rebecca Chase said.

Be sure to check the website for testimonials from campers in recent years. Mona Chase remembers how the camp completely changed one girl.

“She came to camp and her mom said she was a sassy teenager who didn’t want to be part of the family,” the program director recalled. “But after camp, she was more dedicated to the family and she was kind and gentle. She was striving so hard to be a better person.”

For more information on Challenge Summer Camp, visit the website challengecolorado.com. Rising fifth through eighth grade girls are welcome to register. Those interested can also sponsor a camper.

Next story in the series focuses on Guppy Fest 2014; the annual summer youth rally that celebrates the Catholic Christian life.      

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.


Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash