This summer we have two seminarians working as Camp Counselors at Camp Wojtyla in Colorado: Kyle Neterer and Michael Bower. This unique experience adds to the fullness of their formation for the priesthood in surprisingly direct ways!
To give some background about Camp Wojtyla, it was named after Blessed John Paul II who loved to minster to young people in the outdoors. This Catholic Adventure program is located on 1200 pristine acres of wilderness in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. It believes that adventure experiences can be one of the most powerful tools for self-discovery and personal and spiritual growth. For instance, climbing up a 13,000 foot mountain helps the students learn perseverance, teamwork and experience firsthand God’s glorious creation a midst breathtaking views.
Father Hasser spent the last week in June observing how Kyle and Michael’s experience is going and shares that they are truly thriving and enjoying it! Father Hasser said that in many ways Camp Wojtyla serves as a “microcosm of the priesthood.” The camp provides a close community where the seminarians minister to the campers and other staff members, effectively giving them a place to put into practice all the formation they have had so far. While Kyle and Michael are not priests yet, they are acting as spiritual leaders for each of the campers; while they are not part of a parish staff yet, they are daily working closely with the 25-30 men and women staff members. Because of these realities, the seminarians experience a full spectrum of relationships, duties, demands, challenges, and joys which ultimately serve as a practical confirmation of their discernment to the priesthood.
Father Hasser’s visit fell during the week for middle school boys. About 60 middle school boys were there from many different states, mostly in the mid-west. Father Hasser observed how these teenage campers grew in their awareness of both natural and supernatural realities during the week. Their ability to process and think through the activities and relate them to life and faith gave them a model through which they can process the events of their individual lives. Father Hasser also said that he watched the young men grew in appreciation for their parents, respect towards women, and for those who were serving them.
“The wilderness gives you the gift of being detached from all the things that distract us from God,” Father Hasser said, “It is like a detox giving you clarity about the true purpose of our lives.”
In further reflection, Father Hasser said that often people turn to electronic forms of entertainment for recreation and renewal, such as movies, video games, the internet, and so on. These things are not intrinsically bad, but often they are distractions and don’t give the renewal of mind and heart we were truly looking for. We can be afraid to face ourselves and face reality. The wilderness in its indisputable beauty gently reminds us who is really in control of our lives.
Kyle and Michael are out at Camp Wojtyla for a total of 10 weeks this summer. When they come back we will have them share their experience with you in their own words!
To learn more about Camp Wojtyla, read the article about Derek Aaron’s experience last summer!