Thirty high school students and adults from across the Diocese of Sioux City attended Catholic Heart Work Camp (CHWC) from July 23-29 in Springfield, Ill. CHWC organizes service camps around the country each summer, so that students have the opportunity to “love, serve, and connect” with those who are needy and less fortunate.
Upon arrival at camp, students were split up and mixed into teams with other youth and young adults from all over the Midwest to receive their work assignments. Campers had a variety of tasks, including: painting, building homes, landscaping, splitting wood, and even a little spring cleaning for non-profit organizations.
Mornings began with daily Mass, followed by work at the various sites. Evenings were full with various activities, including Eucharistic adoration, confessions, praise and worship music, small group discussion, dance parties, skits, games and more.
Father Michael Cronin, who served as chaplain for the trip, explained, “Our youth today have a strong desire for service, a desire that is rooted in their love for Jesus.”
“Our love for Jesus impels us to go out, just as the apostles did,” he added. “By having a service trip that was integrated with Mass, prayer, and discussion, it is my hope that our youth encountered Christ in their service to further deepen their relationship with him.”
Camp participants got a lot out of the experience. Some developed practical skills as they performed new tasks for the first time. Others began to appreciate the small things they take for granted.
“I was surprised,” Father Cronin said, “when one of our participants told me that the thing she missed most was ice water.”
He continued, “There is something about being pulled out of our daily routine and environment that helps us to put things into perspective and to appreciate what we have. Seeing the needs of the people of Springfield also inspired our youth to do more. I remember as we were leaving one of our youth wanted to stay because there was still more work to be done.”
CHWC helps youth to build relationships with others who are on fire for their faith. After the closing Mass, the camp was filled with a buzz as students exchanged phone numbers and connected on Snapchat.
Participants from the Diocese of Sioux City included parishioners from Sibley, Ashton, Sheldon, Fonda, Marcus, Cherokee and Storm Lake. The trip was organized by Christy Funk from St. Andrew in Sibley and St. Mary in Ashton. The group hopes to attend CHWC every two years, and the next service trip will be in the summer of 2020. If anyone is interested in participating in the next trip, contact Christy Funk by the spring of 2019.