Archdiocese Local Youth & young adult

Camp offers faith-filled fun; registration opens soon

by Joe Bollig

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Do you want to know what Camp Kateri Tekakwitha is all about? Simply, it’s this:

“We exist to bring kids and families closer to Christ while they are having a blast,” said Deacon Dana Nearmyer.

And if you want your kids — and maybe even you and your spouse, as well — to make that trip down to Prairie Star Ranch in Williamsburg, it’s time to start making plans.

Camp registration will open soon.

“This year, we’re even more keenly aware that people of all ages . . . have a desire to grow in their interior life,” said Deacon Nearmyer, camp co-director and secretary of the evangelization division of the archdiocese.

“That desire has never been so strong,” he said. “So . . . we’re making camps targeting kids in fifth and sixth grades, seventh and eighth grades, ninth through 12th grades, families, persons with disabilities and women.”

This is the 21st year for the camp, which hosted about 1,800 campers last year. Usually, every new camping season brings a new feature or “tweak.”

Most of the activities will remain the same. The biggest change will be the addition of a three-day weekend family camp for families with a member with special needs, June 29-July 1.

This is the first time a family camp session for people with special needs has been offered, said Tom Racunas, lead consultant of the special needs ministry of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

Family Camp celebrates both family and faith, and gives families the time to eat, pray and enjoy new activities as a family, according to Racunas. It’s an opportunity to get away from the busyness of everyday life and enjoy your loved ones. It’s among the most holy things in the entire world for families to do — to spend time growing together.

This is especially so for families who have a person with special needs.

“There is a great need for this in some families because of the nature of their child’s disability,” said Racunas. “What it takes to parent, to provide, to nurture, to support a child with a disability is challenging for some families. It’s overload or exhausting for some families.

“We want to provide them with some time to enjoy their loved ones and rediscover the wonder that they have created.”

The Family Camp for families with members with special needs will feature “camp buddies,” who will support the family member with disabilities. They will help them engage in activities separate from their parents and siblings, but also together with their parents and siblings when there are group activities.

In addition to this support, there will be one or two nurses on duty and a physician on call. Special dietary needs can also be accommodated.

“There will be opportunities for families to talk to one another and share resources,” said Racunas. “They feel supported when they know there is another family that is experiencing the same joys, struggles and victories that they are celebrating. It builds relationships and strengthens the resolve of families to carry on.”

The Family Camp for families with members with special needs is open to all ages. There are no age restrictions for the campers.

Registration for this camp will open Feb. 20. Although registration can only be done via email for this camp, registration and camp information will be posted on the archdiocesan camp website and the archdiocesan special-needs ministry website.

Families may apply for scholarship funds. The cost is $135 per person.

To register for and get information about Camp Kateri Tekakwitha’s other 2018 sessions, go to the website at:

For specific information in specific areas, scroll down and click on the icons for Registration, Family Camp, Mail, Camp Forms and Camp Scholarships. More information can be found on the menu located on the left side of the home page.

“Camp is really, really fun, but it’s also really, really deep,” said Deacon Nearmyer. “It helps kids concretize their relationship with Jesus Christ.

“It really triangulates with what the family has already set in place. But with these really compelling college-age [camp counselors] on fire with their faith as faith leaders, their witness and the experiences they have at camp draw kids in really significant ways into a deeper relationship with Jesus.”

Camp Kateri Tekakwitha sessions

High school entering 9-12th grades Fall 2018. Registration opens Jan. 30.

  • Senior high Max, June 18-23, $410
  • Senior high Extreme, July 23-31, $480

Junior high entering 7th- and 8th-grades Fall 2018. Registration opens Feb. 6.

  • Junior high Session 1, June 4-9, $400
  • Junior high Session 2, June 11-16, $400
  • Junior high Session 3, July 16-21, $400

Kateri entering 5th and 6th grades Fall 2018. Registration opens Feb. 13.

  • Kateri Session 1, May 31-June 2, $260
  • Kateri Session 2, June 25-27, $260
  • Kateri Session 3, July 9-11, $260
  • Kateri Session 4, Aug. 1-3, $260

Family camps. Registration by email — no online register for Family Camps.

  • Family Camp, July 13-15, $135 for persons ages 2 years and older; no cost for family members younger than age 2. Registration opens Jan. 30.
  • Family Camp – Special Needs. Registration opens Feb. 20 by email (see information below). June 29-July 1, $135 for persons ages 2 years and older; no cost for family members younger than age 2.
  • Camp Tekakwitha Women’s Retreat. Registration opens Jan. 30. Session April 27-29. To register, go online to:

IMPORTANT: Registration information for Family Camp families and Family Camp – Special Needs families. Send an email to Jennifer at: no earlier than the registration dates posted above. Include name, age and gender of each family member who will attend camp. You will receive an email response with attached registration form to return with a $200 deposit per family ($100 of the deposit is nonrefundable). Upon receipt of your Family Camp registration form and deposit, your family will be registered for Family Camp and you will receive a confirmation email showing receipt of the family registration and deposit.

For camp registration questions, send an email to Jennifer at:

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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