Fun, faith and friends at East Anglia youth camp

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Fun, faith and friends at East Anglia youth camp

Fun, faith and friendship were key elements of the annual Diocesan Summer Youth Camp at Eccles Hall in Norfolk over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Chris Storman reports.

Thirty two children aged 8-14 gathered for the camp, which was supported by the Catholic Women’s League. It aims to provide a weekend of living together in friendship and caring to explore their faith and enjoy fun activities with a group of dedicated and energetic volunteers from around the diocese.

We were fortunate in having a chaplain with us for the weekend – Fr Peter Paul Alphonse from Buckden parish.

Over the weekend we explored the Year of Mercy, its meaning and various aspects involved with celebrating a special Jubilee year.

We visited St John’s Cathedral to see, enter through and learn more about the Holy Door and the Lampedusa Cross therein. We offered prayers for refugees and for the suffering people in their home countries. We then spent time in the cathedral, reading and talking about the Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy, before leaving back through the Holy Door, thinking about small acts which we could offer to do once home.

At camp the children looked at Mother Teresa’s message of performing ‘Small acts with great Love’

All were put into one of four teams for the weekend. Our teams this year were Love, Peace, Joy and Hope.

Points were awarded for trying hard or winning games, sports and swimming, artwork, talent show acts etc and for performing those small acts with great love when spotted (often!).

Overall winners were Team Peace who received their trophies after the final Mass.

eccleshallgroup600Masses, Reconciliation and other liturgies were led beautifully by Fr Paul and with full participation (music, readings, prayers and dramas) by the children.

Our Sunday Mass was very special. We had received permission to use a small 14th century round-towered church in the wood between the school and village, St Mary the Virgin, at Eccles.

Having looked at the corporal work ‘Welcome the Stranger’, we used the occasion to make a pilgrimage across the school playing fields and into the wooded area, pausing for prayers for refugees and listening to a few true experiences of some of them.

On arrival at the church, we found the door ajar, with a large candle burning inside. Very welcoming!

Excitingly, it was probably the first time in centuries that a Catholic Mass had been celebrated there. We were grateful to the Vicar and wardens.

Other activities involved some excellent artwork and creativity and dramas around the theme.

We also used a CAFOD game, helping the young people to understand some of the difficulties met by refugees “On the Move”.

Games, giggles, sports including swimming, a wonderful Talent Show (with a panel of judges!) and a lively gig, with dancing, courtesy of youth director Hamish MacQueen, on the final evening, plus making and renewing friendships, resulted in a happy camp which many are looking forward to again next year. Why not join us?

More information and application forms will be available soon.

Pictured are some of the young people at the summer camp.