By Joseph Jordan
August 20, 2012
The eleven-day TFP Call to Chivalry program was not your average summer camp. The event held at St. Louis de Montfort Academy invited over forty young men to take up the banner of purity and heroism and follow the example of the saints and heroes of Poland and Lithuania, the historic theme of this year’s camp.
“My favorite part was being around pure young men like myself,” said Joseph Becker, a camp participant. “It was inspiring and the talks gave me inspiration.”
Among the many Catholic heroes mentioned was Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a true model for our times as he experienced the acute persecution of the Catholic Church. His life spanned World War I and ended in the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz as a martyr.
Saint Maximilian’s life is especially pertinent as the government of the United Sates assaults the freedom of the Church with the HHS Mandate. In fact, even under persecution, Father Kolbe wrote articles against socialism and communism and distributed his magazine to over one million Poles.
Along with talks about King Jan Sobieski, Saint Andrew Bobola and other great leaders, a presentation was given on the four last things: death, judgment, heaven and hell. St. Alphonsus insisted that if men kept the four last things constantly in mind, more souls would be saved.
This year’s camp had an added bonus. Mr. Maciej Maliczek, a TFP member from Poland, spoke on the Siege of Jasna Gora. It is one thing to hear a talk, but quite another to hear it from a person who’s life is affected by the events of which he speaks.
Adding to the medieval character of the camp, Mr. Roark Mitzell gave a riveting two-hour demonstration on the history of Western swordplay. He ended with a jug cutting session where each spectator tested the blade of their choice. “This is better than fireworks,” remarked one young man.
The art of falconry was another presentation. Mr. Michael Dupuy, an expert in the field, showed the boys his hawks and explained how the birds of prey are trained to hunt.
“I liked learning of the chivalry of the saints and how I can be chivalrous,” said camp participant, Isaac Lind.
The overnight hike in the mountains challenged both body and spirit. The boys carried tents, sleeping bags, and all that was needed to cook meals, plus lots of enthusiasm. As night fell, the aroma of well-seasoned steak wafted through the air and the boys gathered around to pray grace. How delicious. Then a story about big game African hunting was read as the glow of the campfire flickered faintly on enthralled faces.
Sunrise: A hearty breakfast greeted the young campers and prepared them for the long 13-mile trek to the other side of the mountain. It was unforgettable.
Another activity: The high ropes course. Climbing a thirty foot rock wall is not easy, especially when one of your fears is that of heights. Once again, the young men overcame the obstacles. The zip line, cargo net, rock walls, and Burma Bridge were challenges that had to be conquered (with the protection of a safety line). This allowed camp participants to conquer their fear in a safe environment.
The Call to Chivalry camp came to an end with its traditional Medieval Games and Banquet. Time passed so quickly. However, many of the boys expressed their wish to attend St. Louis de Montfort Academy for the upcoming school year or return for another camp.
Everyone departed with a greater admiration for the spirit of Chivalry, ready to apply what they had learned. If the holy virtues of knighthood live on in the souls of these young American men, we can consider the Call to Chivalry camp a great success.