by Jessica Langdon
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — When 19-year-old Courtney Kern was still in grade school, she went to summer camp and met a new best friend, someone she got to know better each year she returned.
“Camp is the place I met and developed a relationship with my best friend, Jesus Christ,” said Kern, who grew up a member of Church of the Nativity in Leawood.
The camp that Kern, now a student at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., is talking about is Camp Tekakwitha at the Prairie Star Ranch in Williamsburg.
“Camp is the reason I have a faith life of my own,” said Kern, who is taking the lessons she learned at Catholic camp in Kansas to new levels as she studies abroad and takes part in service opportunities this semester.
“I really wish I could express to you how much camp is SUCH an integral part of me,” Kern wrote in an email to camp directors Deacon Dana Nearmyer and his wife Deborah.
After eight years as a camper and the last two summers on staff, Kern knows thousands of other young people share the same feeling.
“When it comes down to it, camp has dominated my life and infiltrated every facet of how I live day to day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said.
Although she is pursuing different service opportunities this year — inspired by the faith she developed through camp — her thoughts never stray far from the camp that helped shape her Catholic faith and friendships. She is excited for the campers — both new and returning — who will grow in their faith during the sessions this summer.
Families wanting to register their children for the coming summer’s camp sessions will have the opportunity soon.
For the second year in a row, camp registration for sessions at Prairie Star Ranch will be staggered over three weeks, depending on the grade campers will enter in the fall.
Jan. 29 is the opening day of registration for the much-anticipated high school sessions — including the popular senior high Extreme camp — for students entering ninth through 12th grade.
Registration for junior high ages — campers going into seventh and eighth grades — opens on Feb. 5.
And the opening of registration for Camp Kateri for kids entering fifth and sixth grades follows a week later on Feb. 12.
Online registration opens at 9 a.m. on each of those dates.
Families are encouraged to register online, but mail-in registration is also accepted. Those mailing registration forms need to wait to have them postmarked on or after registration opens for the appropriate session. Forms mailed earlier won’t be accepted.
Forms, camp dates, registration materials, instructions and more details are available online on the archdiocesan website at: www.archkck.org/camp.
Families that have signed up before with the Bunk1 program should use their previous usernames and passwords, and reminders will be sent to them. Families that have not used the system before will be able to create new accounts.
Year of Faith
Camp sessions combine faith and fun, giving kids chances to camp, swim, canoe, and tackle high ropes and rock- climbing courses, all in the context of deepening their prayer lives, learning about the saints and participating in the sacraments.
Camp leaders write new curriculum every year, so the experience is always fresh.
“This year in the Year of Faith, we’re going to really be concentrating here on a Year of Faith experience that’s age-appropriate for each of the levels of campers,” said Deacon Nearmyer.
This will be a “very powerful package” for young people, he said.
Kern knows that is true.
Describing the opportunities she is planning for this semester and her summer, she told the Nearmyers how moved she has been by their example and the camp experience, which has helped form who she is, and even the friendships she has made in college.
“Thank you for your mission, and you have to know I will always be praying for you, your family, and the people you lead to Jesus every single summer,” she said.
Jan. 20 — Scholarship applications due
Jan. 29 — Registration opens at 9 a.m. for high school camp sessions
Feb. 5 — Registration opens at 9 a.m. for campers entering 7th/8th grades
Feb. 12 — Registration opens at 9 a.m. for campers entering 5th/6th grades
Camp Kateri — grades 5/6 ($230)
Session 1 — May 30-June 1
Session 2 — June 24-26
Session 3 — July 8-10
Session 4 — July 11-13
Camp Tekakwitha — grades 7/8 ($370)
Session 1 — June 3-8
Session 2 — June 17-22
Session 3 — July 15-20
Session 4 — July 22-27
Camp Tekakwitha — grades 9-12 ($380)
Camp Tekakwitha Senior High Extreme — grades 9-12 ($430)
July 29-Aug. 6
Camp Tekakwitha Family Camp
(Free for children younger than 2; $125 each for campers age 2 and older)
For more information and for camp brochure and registration materials and instructions, visit the archdiocesan website at: www.archkck.org/camp.