by Jessica Langdon
WILLIAMSBURG — When Madison Borisov was little, she gave the best compliment a kid could give to family camp at Prairie Star Ranch — and that was before it even started.
“This is better than Disney World!” she exclaimed as the family pulled up to the camp in Williamsburg.
She’s been to the theme park several times, so she spoke from experience.
But the sight of young adults lining the road to greet and pray with each arriving camper really impressed her.
The family has returned several times to family camp since then, and the now 12-year-old Madison, a sixth-grader at Prince of Peace School in Olathe, still looks forward to it as much as ever.
As do her parents, Dan and Nancy Borisov.
Members of the archdiocesan office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth hope that many new families will be joining the Borisovs this summer for the family session from July 13-15.
Unlike the Camp Kateri and Camp Tekakwitha sessions, which are for kids only, family camp is exactly that — a chance for entire families, from toddlers to grandparents, to enjoy the first-rate facilities for a fun- and faith-filled weekend.
For the people who have long been associated with the camps, said Deacon Dana Nearmyer, it’s one of the most treasured experiences. Deacon Nearmyer and his wife Debbie have been the camp directors since its inception.
“It’s amazing to see families come in and bring all the holiness they have in them — what makes them a family —and watch them spend time together,” said Deacon Nearmyer. “You show up and enjoy that time with your family.”
During those three days, there are no errands to run, no chores to catch up on, no laundry or dishes waiting to be done right away.
It’s a time without cellphones, TV or other distractions.
“It’s really a blessed experience,” said Deacon Nearmyer.
There’s room for about 25 families — nuclear or extended. In the past, they’ve even had three or four related families use the opportunity as sort of a spiritually-fueled family reunion.
There’s plenty of zip lining, rock climbing, campfires, swimming, and more, coupled with the faith formation, of course.
And the nighttime accommodations aren’t as rustic as the word “camp” might suggest.
“They have the air-conditioned cabins,” said Nancy Borisov. “It was great.”
Families are placed in one- or two-bedroom cabins, depending on family size, and share communal bathrooms.
The days offer a few hours of age-specific camp and faith-formation activities for the kids, while the adults get a chance to spend some time together and try some of the camp activities.
And there are endless opportunities — from eucharistic adoration to learning about saints and asking for their intercession — to grow in faith.
“One year, we worked on how the mysteries of the rosary relate to our family,” said Nancy. They created their own for their family to meditate on.
“It’s just nice to see your family praying and being close to God,” she said.
She also found tremendous inspiration in the people who work at the camp.
“One of the things we really, really loved and were so overwhelmed by is the respect that the counselors have, the respect for the Catholic faith,” said Nancy. “They were on their knees praying. It was like Jesus was right there.”
This inspired her, especially in a time when she had the impression young people were leaving the faith or not taking it seriously.
“It just really changed my outlook on the faith and gave me so much hope,” she said.
She hopes her own daughter will one day get a chance to work at Prairie Star and can’t wait for this year’s family camp to begin.
“It’s just the best place ever,” she said.
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