Summer Camp Real Treasure
Open Letter to Bishop Bransfield:
St. Vincent de Paul Parish has had a tradition of summer camp for 29 years. We have enjoyed the facilities at Camp Bosco for all of the 29 years. Our camp has evolved over the years, all the while maintaining the teachings of the Catholic Church.
We have a unique age group of campers as our target group of young people, including the 14- to 18-year-olds.
The improvements made to the camp in the past several years have been wonderful. The slide, zip line, climbing wall, dorms, and activity spaces have been great. We truly appreciate the revamped spaces.
Our camp staff is entirely volunteer. We have on our staff Matt Koval, our camp artifact. Matt has been with the camp from the beginning. He has maintained the focus of camp leadership to be faith- based and camper-centered. The list of roles Matt has taken on and taught is extensive. Matt is truly an example of “teaching the Gospel and if necessary using words.”
Our family personally has collectively amassed 51 years of service/ attendance. Steve with 13 years, Mary with four years, Tiffany with 10 years, Ashley with six years, Emma with eight years, Casey with six years, and Cristin with four years. We count our years of service collectively because each one of us experiences camp in our own way. We have served as directors, campers, counselors, horse handlers, kitchen help, arts and crafts, and role models. Numerous other families have followed this pattern of service and many are still involved to this day.
Our camp has a family atmosphere as all are included and lines disappear. All are invited as we have campers, counselors, and adults from many parishes and some that are not Catholic but return every year.
Our family style dinner on Thursday evening offers the kitchen staff an opportunity to share a meal with campers and counselors. Our camp “hug” at Friday night campfire ensures that all are included and loved.
Our kitchen staff is very conscious of quality and affordable prices. They work all year to improve the menu and make quality choices. They bring comfort foods from the Ohio Valley such as DiCarlos Pizza, Rax/Arbys Roast Beef, and shop at local farmers’ stands for corn on the cob. Our kitchen staff also joins in on the fun and faith experiences of camp as they attend and participate in our vesper services, camp fires, craft activities, and even horseback riding when possible. Our head cooks, Peggy Everly and Mark Ryczko, have been with camp nearly as long as Matt and prepare special treats for the hard workers at camp in the way of fresh baked pies. Our kitchen staff members are vital members of our camp and camp commission.
Our 2013 campers were thrilled to have “Pope Francis” attend camp. This opportunity was provided by Shawn Madden by way of a cardboard cut out. “Pope Francis” was in our camp photo and had dinner with us. Our campers even gave him a hoist above their heads in one photo.
Our current pastor, Fr. John Mulcahey, has embraced camp from the get-go. His journey at St Vincent’s began with Camp 2011. He joined us at St. Vincent’s Parish one week before camp and was still able to attend and begin to learn the ropes. With his wisdom and leadership, Fr. Mulcahey has made significant changes and improvements to our camp atmosphere.
John Distefano is a true advocate for the camp facility as a faith-filled servant. His interactions with our leadership have been professional and humble. All requests are filled and issues are dealt with immediately. We appreciate John immensely. His history with camp is priceless.
Our camp would not exist without the “12th man,” which is our community. We have received grants and donations from parishioners and community in support of our ongoing mission to work with the youth. The unique opportunity for teens to come together and share their faith and have loads of fun keeps bringing them back.
In closing, I would like to express my appreciation for St. Vincent’s Summer Camp as our adult children look forward to camp every year and plan their vacations to accommodate this week. We enjoy the beautiful atmosphere of the hills of West Virginia and the serenity of a media free week.
Mary E. Dolan