After a several-year hiatus, the Annual Diocesan Catholic Scout Retreat returned to Camp Bashore in Lebanon County September 16 and 17, with activities that focused on faith, collaboration and bonding.
Rebuilding from a pause in the yearly event, the 44th annual retreat was attended by Troop 360 from Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Harrisburg, who availed themselves of all focused activities and in-depth presentations as the only group to participate.
It was a fruitful weekend for the troop, as members enjoyed overnight camping, Mass, presentations on the faith, a service project, outdoor Rosary, meals and the gift of nature.
“When we pulled into the parking lot and they said we would be the only troop here this weekend, it was kind of disappointing for a moment because we knew we’d miss out on making connections with other troops, but it’s helped to bring us even closer and have more engagement with the leaders and presenters at the activities,” said Scout Dominic Michelone.
“Scouting, for me, is the best way to have fun,” he said as the troop laid new mulch at the camp’s peaceful outdoor chapel, nestled beneath verdant trees along a babbling creek.
“I don’t think there is any sport or activity that compares to Scouting. It allows you to spend time in the wilderness, enjoy nature and be involved all year round. It’s a great way to challenge yourself, develop skills and become a stronger person,” Dominic said.
Removing his gloves after helping to spread piles of mulch delivered by fellow Scouts via wheelbarrows, Anthony Duval told The Witness, “It felt great to clean up an area here at the camp to make it look good again. And it was nice to be able to do the service project at the chapel, where we have Mass.”
Taking time to appreciate the results of the clean-up project before the Scouts prayed the Rosary from the chapel’s wooden benches, Anthony bowed his head to reflect. Sweeping fallen leaves from the altar, removing twigs from among the pews and applying a fresh layer of mulch was a gift of service to the camp and to the chapel.
“When we do our service projects, it feels good to do something for others instead of doing things for our own personal reasons,” said fellow Scout Matthew Davis. “In today’s society, a lot of people only do things for themselves and not for others – and that’s sad.”
“Scouting is the best way to have fun, socialize and make friends. It’s a great way to get out of your shell and get involved in fun activities instead of staying inside and being connected to technology all day,” Matthew added.
The retreat was led by the Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting (DCCS), which provides guidance, direction, leadership and vitality in the spiritual phase of Scouting to all Catholic Scouts and Scouters in the Diocese, and promotes various Religious Emblem programs.
Corinne Kern, DCCS Chair, said she has seen Boy Scouts – including the members of Troop 360 – grow emotionally, socially and spiritually over the years.
“The values of the Boy Scouts of America, enhanced by the values of the Church, have influenced and guided the older Scouts’ formation into responsible leaders in their unit. I can see the impact their example has on the younger Scouts,” she said.
“In a world of instant gratification, these youth have taken the time – a lot of time – to further develop their faith through the BSA Religious Emblems program. It’s not a Scouting requirement; it’s a choice. These young men received enhanced training to become active disciples of Christ in daily life,” Kern said. “I saw so much courage during the retreat as these Scouts stepped out of their comfort zone by participating in service to our camp; thoughtfully engaging with our presenters; leading prayer during the Rosary; offering to serve at Mass; encouraging each other on the journey. These life skills are nourished by Catholic Scouting in ways no other youth program can. That’s why we do this every year, no matter the number of participants.”
A DAC Program
Catholic Scouting in the Diocese of Harrisburg is one of the many programs supported in part by the Diocesan Annual Campaign. Scouting is a program of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. The office supports Catholic Scouting for both Scouts BSA and Girl Scouts by working with the Diocesan Catholic Committees on Scouting and providing for the Annual Scout Mass and Biennial Adult Recognition Banquet. Scouts are featured members of the Diocesan Youth Council.
Information about Scouting in the Diocese is available at www.hbgdiocese.org/youth-and-young-adults/catholic-scouting.
To learn more about the Diocesan Annual Campaign, including how you can support the important ministries of the Diocese, please visit www.hbgdiocese.org/giving/diocesan-annual-campaign.
(Photos by Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness.)
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness