By Tony DeGol
Grace and Hope Callahan are twins who, one could argue, made double the effort to be part of Camp Timothy 2019.
As students at Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School, the siblings enjoyed an educational opportunity in Italy earlier this summer and rushed back in the nick of time for Camp T.
“We woke up in Italy at 4:00 a.m. yesterday, then flew to London, then Philadelphia, then State College,” chronicled an understandably tired Grace on day one of the camp. “So we flew all day yesterday, woke up this morning at 6:00 a.m. and came here.”
Despite the frantic pace and almost missing two flights, the sisters agree it was all worth it to be part of the camp experience.
“You bond with the faith, and you go deeper into your faith,” explained Grace.
“With the LGEs (Large Group Evangelization) every day, they get a speaker and bring in topics that relate to us personally in the real world,” added Hope.
The twins, members of Saint Rose of Lima Parish in Altoona, were among the record number of high school age students who participated in Camp Timothy during the week of June 16 at Camp Sequanota in Jennerstown.
“I thought, let’s go back to the basics, so we decided to break the week down into the main parts of the Creed – I believe in God, I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe in the Holy Spirit, and I believe in the Holy Catholic Church,” said Francine Swope, diocesan coordinator of Youth Ministry and director of Camp Timothy. “And what we’ve done with that is make it relatable to these young people – to let them have the ability to say ‘I believe.’ That’s our theme: I believe.”
A different virtue was spotlighted each day, Swope continued, such as faith, hope, love, and joy.
“We put a large emphasis on this being our faith community right now and how a community supports each other in the same belief,” she stressed. “So it’s just coming to them from where they are in their lives and what they’re living and making them understand ‘I believe’ and what is it that you believe.”
Priests celebrate daily Mass for the campers. Eucharistic Adoration and prayer by the campfire were among the other spiritual highlights.
Bishop Mark visited one day during the week. He led an LGE, celebrated Liturgy, and ate lunch with the kids.
Re-enforcing the faith is paramount.
“I want us to walk out of here with a firm ‘I believe,’” summed up Swope. “That’s our goal. When we go back to our parishes, our schools, our families, our friends, we’re able to say ‘I believe in God. I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe in the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Catholic Church, and let me tell you about my belief,’ and that’s what we want to walk away with.”
Camp is Eva Spangler’s favorite week of summer.
“I feel my faith gets a lot deeper and a lot stronger,” assured the parishioner of Saint Michael in St. Michael. “Being around a group of people that believe the same thing you do really helps you learn about why you believe and how it can help you in your everyday life.”
Nathan Farabaugh, a member of Saint Nicholas Parish in Nicktown, experienced Camp Timothy for the first time thanks to a little nudging from his older sister and some of her friends. He is glad he gave it a shot.
“It’s a lot of people in my age group that have the same thoughts, and they want to get deeper in their faith, and that’s a really good environment to be in,” he said. “I can get motivated from these people. I used to think I’m the only one going through something, but hearing everyone’s stories, they have the same problems or same obstacles in their faith, and they can help you overcome those obstacles and move on and grow deeper in the faith.”
Besides the emphasis on spirituality, Camp Timothy also offers plenty of recreational opportunities including hiking, horseback riding, swimming, and more.
“We go zip-lining, that’s a lot of fun,” noted Ashley Kubat, a parishioner at the Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel in Loretto. “It’s fun going with your friends and doing that kind of stuff – just hanging out and being around them. It’s a wonderful experience.”
Making friends is sometimes challenging, but not at camp, Kubat emphasized.
“Here, everybody is accepting and you all share the same values and same ideas,” she added.
Commented Grace Callahan: “You bond as a people, and you bond with your faith.”
For her and her twin sister, that really was a double benefit. And after a trip to Italy, it was truly amore!
[Photo: Campers enjoy a game of Four Square, one of many fun activities at Camp Timothy.]