Archdiocese Local Youth & young adult

Taking young Catholics to new heights

Camp registration just around the corner

by Kara Hansen

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — On Jan. 30, kids and parents alike will be thinking one thing: summer.

Though hard to picture now in the midst of a cold Kansas winter, sessions of Camp Tekakwitha are just a few short months away, with registration beginning at the end of January. More than 1700 campers experienced the Catholic outdoor adventure camp located in Williamsburg last summer.

Kids and families who can’t wait that long also have the chance to experience Camp Tekakwitha a little bit earlier than usual, with the release of a camp CD last month.

“The singing at camp has been transformational for so many people, we wanted people to have access to it all year long,” said Dana Nearmyer, archdiocesan coordinator of evangelization and Catholic formation.

CDs are available through the archdiocesan youth office, complete with songs recorded from two camp sessions during the summer of 2008.

Nearmyer said that, for years, people had asked for CDs with camp music on it — simple praise and worship songs sung by camp music director Joe Peterson and the kids.

But the full, busy days at Camp Tekakwitha did not lend themselves to the amount of planning and organization required to record a CD. Enter Father Kent O’Connor, who got the project moving from concept to reality.

“Each time I visited camp, I was really impressed with the way the kids sing there,” said Father O’Connor. “They have such energy and prayerfulness, and it’s a big part of the experience kids hold onto for the rest of the year.”

Leawood’s Curé of Ars parishioner Mark Fortino co-produced the CD with Father O’Connor, providing the recording equipment and microphones. The recordings were made in the course of a typical day at camp, while campers came in and out of receiving the sacrament of reconciliation.

“There had to be some control for noise with kids getting up to go in and out of the confessional, but the music was recorded when they would normally be singing with the same songs that are usually sung,” said Father O’Connor.

The CD features 13 tracks, including well-known praise and worship songs such as “Open The Heart of My Eyes, Lord,” “Here I Am To Worship,” and “Your Grace Is Enough.”

“The CD is designed to be a singalong,” said Nearmyer. “It’s a completely raw outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The kids who attend camp really wanted to harness that.”

The CD costs $15, but larger donations are greatly appreciated. All proceeds will go to help build a permanent chapel at Prairie Star Ranch, home of Camp Tekakwitha.

“The kids really want a permanent chapel to celebrate Mass and have a quiet prayer space that can be used at all times,” said Nearmyer.

Beyond the tangible benefit of funding a chapel at Prairie Star Ranch, both Nearmyer and Father O’Connor say they hope the CD also provides spiritual benefits for its listeners.

“This can be a great experience for kids and families to bring them back to their faith and their camp experience,” said Father O’Connor.

Nearmyer agreed.

“Families are under a barrage of stressors these days, and we’re all busy. Listening to this music in the car, while you’re busy running here and there, can be a way to synchronize hearts with God,” he said.

In addition to the youth office, CDs are available for purchase at Church of the Ascension in Overland Park, Curé of Ars Church, and by contacting Mary Ann Caffrey at (913) 851-8210. Make checks payable to “For Kids and Christ.”

More information on Camp Tekakwitha is available at the Web site: Registration for campers entering 7th through 12th grade begins Jan. 30, with registration for 5th- and 6th-graders following on Feb. 6. Mail-in registrations must be postmarked on those dates as well.

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Kara Hansen

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