Camp helps boys build faith, relationships

It has a new Facebook page, a beefed up music program, and food that, according to camp director Toby Korensky, "just keeps getting better."

But as it completes its third year, one thing about the Archdiocese of Omaha’s Camp Virtus et Veritas hasn’t changed – the power of its mission to help young boys grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

"The energy and the movement of the spirit is certainly happening," Korensky said shortly after the camp wrapped up its July 23-29 summer session at Camp Kateri Tekakwitha near McCool Junction, Neb., playing host to 49 campers for outdoor activities mixed with daily Mass, eucharistic adoration and Bible study.

The camp helps boys entering sixth through ninth grades, and youth leaders entering their sophomore through senior years in high school, explore and be open to vocations, including priesthood or married life, Korensky said.

"They get to hear testimony throughout the week," he said. "The theme this year was ‘Prayer Warriors.’"

In addition to prayer time, information on the history of the rosary and why it’s so powerful, and testimony from several seminarians at the camp, the campers were treated to a homily from Archbishop George J. Lucas, who once again stopped by the camp for a day.

The archbishop presided at morning Mass, giving a homily that asked campers to be open to their vocations, and he stayed for lunch.

Returning camper and ninth-grader Brad Tonn, a member of St. Francis Borgia Parish in Blair, said the camp’s prayerfulness and peace "sometimes just blows you away."

Tonn said he was especially moved by an explanation of Ignatian prayer by camp chaplain Father Matthew Capadano, who also is a teacher and chaplain at Scotus Central Catholic High School in Columbus. "That was very powerful to me," Tonn said.

John Schroll, a sophomore at Mount Michael Benedictine School near Elkhorn and a member of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish in Omaha, returned for his third year of camp and first as a youth counselor – a position he said deepened the experience for him.

Both Tonn and Schroll, who said he was interested in the priesthood, spoke about testimony from transitional Deacon Taylor Leffler as he prepares for ordination to the priesthood.

"He wants to share his joy in Christ with everybody there," Tonn said.

"It really stood out to me," Schroll said.

The camp’s altar call this year saw 26 of 76 boys, including youth leaders, raise their hands to say they were exploring a call to the priesthood, Korensky said.

"The Holy Spirit gives them the chance to open up, discern and express the chance that they are maybe being called in an open but private way," Korensky said. "It’s difficult in this day and age; there’s more challenges to discerning these types of vocations."

Jen Moser, coordinator of youth ministry for the archdiocese, said it has been "beautiful" to see the camp develop over the last three years, refining its schedule and activities, clarifying its vision and focus, building a strong experience and friendships among the campers, while also becoming something that families participate in together, with parents working in support roles.

"There is a real community that’s forming around the camp," she said.


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