By Kenneth Murphy
Who should young Catholic men emulate? Rock stars, football players or actors? At the annual TFP Louisiana Call to Chivalry Camp, boys are presented with true Catholic role models to admire and imitate.
Each camp has its own theme and this year's 10-day program held from June 28 to July 7 focused on the historical figures of the British Isles. Many skits, lively presentations and a challenging treasure hunt brought life to heroes like St. Patrick, St. Kevin, St. Columba, St. Brendan and St. Thomas More. The participants followed St. Brendan on his voyage to the New World 300 years before Christopher Columbus discovered America. They met Sir William Wallace, who was not a barbarian as depicted by Hollywood, but a champion and guardian of good in Scotland. Camp participants even helped St. Patrick "rescue" a fellow camp member who had been captured by druids. Armed with prayer and sheer numbers they chased the druids away.
The camp encourages its participants not only to look up to true role models but to follow their heroic example in their own daily lives. Canoe runs, obstacle courses, and group problem solving drew out the leader in everyone. Games like French football, shield ball, and capture the flag can only be won through teamwork and strategy.
Essential to true formation the camp fostered manly piety with the frequent reception of Holy Communion, the availability of Confession and by concluding each day with an outdoor rosary procession. Like the crusaders of old, every camp member participated in a Vigil of Arms before a relic of the True Cross.
The high points of the summer course were the closing medieval games and banquet. From richly sewn banners to delicious Cajun cooking, the atmosphere at the final medieval banquet was unforgettable. Parents joined their sons who displayed their knightly manners at the dinner presided over by Msgr. Robert Berggreen. Suddenly, trumpets sounded. A herald announced the arrival of King Henry V. The noble king made a surprise appearance and delivered a rousing rendition of St. Crispin's Day Speech.
"We tried to instill in the boys the idea that heroism is not a thing of the past," said Thomas Drake, head of TFP—Louisiana. "I could not be happier at their response to this challenge."
The motto of one of the military religious orders at the time of the Crusades was: "The most beautiful adventure in the world is ours." As the final evening finished, that motto appeared to express the sentiments of the participants as they left ready to defend the Faith amid today's hostile culture.
Our youth need good role models not bad ones. If you are interested in learning more about the TFP's Call to Chivalry camps please call Cesar Franco at (717) 521-8013.