By: Kevin Bohli
WorkCamp II comes to a close today in Dumfries, Virginia. Together with WorkCamp I in Winchester, Virginia, nearly 600 teens and 300 adults from the Diocese of Arlington spent a week of their summers making repairs to the homes of the less-fortunate within those communities.
WorkCamp always brings about great changes in the lives of the participants, but that should come as no surprise. WorkCamp is following a pattern for Christian life as similar as possible to the original Christians who are described within the Acts of the Apostles:
Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.”
Diocesan WorkCamp is different from most other camps in that we attempt to form an intentional Christian community. We require the adults and the teens from each parish to begin meeting with one another more than six months before they arrive at WorkCamp. These meetings consist of prayer, formation in Catholic social teaching, tool safety and building relationships with one another. Once at WorkCamp, we spend the entire first day continuing this process of building relationships with one another and improving our ability to work together as a team.
Prayer is also woven throughout the entire WorkCamp experience. Each morning, the entire camp begins the day with Mass, to gather around the table of the Lord and break bread. Throughout the day and night, the crews gather for prayer no fewer than nine times! We strive to make a strong connection between the Gospel message, the reception of the Sacraments, the service performed during the day and their own personal interaction with the Lord.
Acts 2: 44-45, “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.”
WorkCampers fundraise all of the money that it takes to attend the camp. Once there, they sleep on the floor in classrooms and share all of the limited living space with the other teens from the camp. Each day, they perform service on the homes using supplies that they were able to purchase using the money they fundraised to attend the camp. The campers learn to truly share what they have and divide it among all those in need.
Acts 2:47, “And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”
WorkCamp successfully divided into two separate weeks of camp this year for the first time ever. This was needed to accommodate the increased growth in the number of parishes that want to participate as well as the growing number of teens that want to attend from each parish. There are already four additional parishes in the diocese that are interested in being a part of WorkCamp 2011!
The growth in WorkCamp can only be attributed to the community of volunteers and teens that continue to find amazing grace in living the Christian life in a radical way that Christ called us to two thousand years ago. Many of the adults at WorkCamp return year after year; some even began coming as teens over twenty years ago.
At the close of WorkCamp, volunteers return to their parishes with a renewed commitment to daily prayer, to active participation in the Church and to serve others in the name of Christ.