San Pedro Spiritual Development Center offers camps every summer for children ages 9 to 18. This year’s theme, “May the Faith Be With You” has been a hit with boys and girls, whether they are Star Wars fans or not. When campers are not boating, playing Nine Square or swimming, they participate in themed discussions about their faith, presented by young adult counselors who are often ex-campers themselves.
Mary Kate Wilkerson, Summer Camp and Program Coordinator said the theme allowed leaders to put the focus on discipleship. “It’s so important for this younger generation to be comfortable with that title of discipleship,” said Wilkerson. “It’s not just something that was in the Bible or something that the great saints do. It’s something we’re all called to do.” Through themed skits such as “Jedi Catholic Academy” where Master Jedi serve as guides, counselors try to help campers “find their own unique talents that they can use to be disciples,” said Wilkerson.
To aid in the process, counselors give ‘witness talks.’ “It helps the kids learn that everyone struggles,” said Wilkerson. She added, “Seminarians come and share how they came to the idea of priesthood. Some share how they were bullied and how they were able to find their true friends and really standup for themselves.” Wilkerson said that topic, in particular, resonated with the kids.
Laurence, 12, from St. Margaret Mary parish, is in his fifth year at camp. He said that the environment, the fact that it’s Catholic, the food and activities are what keep him coming back. “I love San Pedro camp,” he said. “I get to talk about my faith with people that are of the same faith. I don’t have to be afraid that people might make fun of me or discourage me in believing in Jesus.” The take away for him came from two themes,’ the struggle’ which dealt with moments of doubt and ‘a firm foundation’ which addressed the need for a strong foundation in order to stay close to God.
Angie, now 12, has been coming to San Pedro since she was six years old. “I love the community and how close you are to God,” she said. “And I love meeting all the new friends. Everyone is so accepting.” Seminara said that she is always hard on herself, but when the topic of ‘gifts’ came up, everyone was very supportive and helped her look at the good things about herself.
Another St. Margaret Mary student, Tiffany said she had trouble making friends in the past. Yet when she came to San Pedro last year, she and Angie became best friends. She said she likes San Pedro because “they find ways to get through to you in ways most people can’t.” She added, “This camp is probably the best decision my mom ever had me do.”
Seminara had advice for parents considering the camp in the future. “Do it!” she said. “They will make so many friends and they will have so much fun and grow so much closer to God. It is definitely 190% worth it and they will come back here year after year.”