By Novice John Taylor
From Sunday, July 9, through Saturday, July 22, Fr. John Puntino, Novice Pascal, and I lived and contributed to two weeks of summer camp at Camp St. Francis in Aptos, California. What does that look like? Imagine eating, playing, praying, and all-around living with young people as young as seven years old. It was the first time that Pascal and I had experienced a residential summer camp with the Salesians. I confess that I was flying by the seat of my pants while trying to learn how to be a head cabin counselor. Every part of camp was new to me, from the first crazy night when the youngsters struggled to sleep to coordinating baking and nature walk classes.
Thanks to God, everyone helped me to get up to speed on how to do my best in my roles. I especially thank Ian, an assistant counselor, who showed me everything I needed to do to animate the campers and how to do all that is best for the campers in our cabin. I would’ve been quite lost without his help. In regard to the camp, I especially enjoyed how every day included a theme of the day like a virtue such as patience, and included Star Wars and superhero skit stories. One activity that I didn’t expect was the cleaning and inspections of cabins throughout the week. We showed our cabin campers how to sweep, mop, sanitize, and care for their belongings and we all did it together as a team. Before inspection, the inspectors played the "Imperial March" from the Star Wars soundtrack. I will never listen to this film score the same.
Moreover, I learned a lot about how to teach the young in lively and attractive ways. I discovered the importance of loving each individual camper and hearing their stories and their interests. I found out a lot about Roblox and Minecraft, and they seem like very exciting games! And I found out how much young people like the ocean and swimming in it. That water is so, so cold! Of course, I really enjoyed teaching the young how to make English muffin pizzas and how to bake sugar cookies (with lots of add-ins like chocolate chips and sprinkles). The young are very creative and have deep imaginations, and they inspire me. At the end of each week of camp, we all had a lot of fun together, especially with campers from my cabin. It was so much fun playing with the young on the final nights when we had our talent shows and movie nights. And most importantly, I saw how God lives in the young and how the young find God throughout the whole camp experience. God's love and joy can be found everywhere at camp. I will dearly miss everyone from camp, especially the cabin campers I was guiding throughout the weeks. God bless Camp St. Francis!