By: Kevin Bohli, Director of Youth Ministry
This past week the Arlington Diocese Office of Youth Ministry sponsored the 25th annual WorkCamp in Quicksburg, Va. More than 800 teens, 250 adult leaders, and 100 contractors spent a week repairing homes at 150 worksites. The teens spent the past eight months fundraising and preparing to leave behind their cellphones and video games, sleeping on hard floors, waiting in lines for food and showers, and doing hard physical labor in the 90+ degree weather. The week included daily Mass, regular prayer, and devotions five times each day. Eucharistic Adoration, Confessions, talks and reflections took place each evening, and there were two chapels available for personal prayer time throughout the day.
On the worksite from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, the teens built wheelchair ramps, replaced roofs and windows, repaired bathroom showers and toilets, patched floors, and many other projects designed to help make the residents’ homes warmer, safer, or drier.
This is hardly a typical first week of summer break for teenagers.
At the end of the exhausting week, the teens were invited to provide feedback on their experience. Here is just a small sample:
“Had the time of my life, no doubt!” –Brian
“I had a really good experience here and I really appreciated going to Confession. I haven’t been in 10 years, so I’m really glad that I went.” –Lia
“WorkCamp didn’t only strengthen my faith in Christ, but it also taught me how much it means to have a relationship with God.” –Michael
“Thank you so much for a great experience; I’ll definitely make time to come next year, even if I am turning 18 that week, because it will be better with God having him near me during that.” –Karen
“I learned about how my service can impact my own life rather than just how it can impact another’s.” –Kevin
“I love going to daily Mass, it helps me feel like I am ready to start the day.” –Gretchen
“The most helpful part of the week was Confession and Adoration – a priest gave me a card for the Divine Mercy Chaplet, which was really cool!” –Megan
“I love WorkCamp! It gives me hope and inspires me to evangelize.” –Casey
“Best experience of my life.” –Macy
“My resident had a big impact on me. She was a living example of our theme to ‘love courageously.’” –Teresa
“I have a greater desire to live my life more for Christ and live more simply.” –Abigail
“WorkCamp has been a powerful experience throughout my high school years. I am lucky to have been able to attend all four years. Thank you.” –RJ
“WorkCamp opens my eyes and I definitely plan to work on being a better friend, deepening my relationship with Christ, and doing more work for the poor.” –Sarah
For 25 years, WorkCamp has helped teens serve the poor in our community. However, perhaps more importantly, it’s through the service, prayer, and community of WorkCamp that young people discover the joy of living a life for Christ.
All photos courtesy of Gerald Martineau.