By Tim Bishop
HUTTONSVILLE—Seventh-grade students in every Catholic School in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston are being given the great experience of summer camp at the Bishop Hodges Pastoral Center in Huttonsville.
Bob Perron, executive director of the diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, said the program is part of the office’s expanding youth ministry projects at the Bishop Hodges Pastoral Center.
In the program, every 7th-grade student in the diocese will attend camp during a six-week period beginning Aug. 19. Each group will spend three days at the camp, where they will do a number of activities including; the zip-line, canoeing, archery, rock wall climbing, nature study and more. More importantly, Perron said, each group will spend time in prayer and faith building activities. Shawn Madden, director of the Bishop Hodges Pastoral Center, said the students will become engaged in their faith through the camp experience. “All of the camp activities are built around goals that were developed by myself and Vincent de Paul Schmitt, superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. We want to provide students an opportunity to fall in love with Jesus and His church. We want students to learn more about themselves through new experiences by stepping out of their comfort zone and overcoming fears. We want students to learn more about how they fit into the larger body of Christ by spending time in a non-classroom setting with other students and recognizing their similarities and differences in new ways. And lastly, we want students to be inspired to return home and find their own unique way to be an active, Christ-like servant in their community.”
Each week at the camp will include 65 students from multiple schools who will be accompanied by parent and teacher chaperones. Madden said that principals from each of the schools visited the facility in May and were in awe of the quality of the facilities at the camp.
Perron said he hopes the students will come away from the camp with a great experience and hopes they will take advantage of many of the other programs offered at the facility.
“We think this program is a game-changer,” Perron said. “It really will bring more people to the facility and begin that momentum that we are looking for.” Madden agreed, adding the new program nearly doubles the number of kids the camp serves on a yearly basis.
For more information on the program, visit www.bishophodges.org and click on the Biblical Hospitality link.