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Highlights from the ECYD Middle School Boys National Tournament, and the Upcoming ECYD Summer Camps!

“Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win.” (1 Corinthians 9:24)

This was the inspiration for the theme of this year’s ECYD Middle School Boys National Tournament – “Run so as to win!” The tournament was held February 17th-20th at Sacred Heart Apostolic School in Rolling Prairie, Indiana, and over the weekend, ECYD members and teams from around North America participated in ECYD’s national winter games and competed in tournaments to take the gold home to their cities. This year, seven teams of boys in 5th-8th grade from Louisiana, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, New York, and Florida gathered to play in tournaments that included basketball, football, fubito, floor hockey, handball, and dodgeball. They also participated in a live Clue Action game and a manhunt, and spent an entire day downhill skiing. The tournament weekend concluded with Mass and the ECYD Pledge of Friendship Ceremony, during which the boys renewed their Pledge of Friendship with Christ, and one boy made the pledge for the first time.

The tournament was run by Fr. Patrick O’Loughlin, LC, who is the director of ECYD Life Department, and Brother Joseph Geiger, LC, the Assistant ECYD Director in Atlanta. “I love seeing the boys grow up and arriving to compete with fresh energy and more maturity each year, deepening their friendship with Christ and other boys from around the country,” says Fr. Patrick. “This year Indiana took home the gold – it was fantastic to see their hard work, team work and great sportsmanship throughout!”
You can check out all the fun the boys had at the ECYD Middle School Boys National Tournament in this video posted by Fr. Jaime Lorenzo, LC, who serves as the ECYD Director in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and on the Northshore.

And although this year’s national tournament has come and gone, the ECYD summer camps are fast approaching!

Upcoming Girls ECYD Camps
Girls ECYD Camps are unique experiences for girls from 5th-12th grade to grow in their Catholic faith and make lasting friendships. At camp, girls ages 10-18 will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities and will enjoy prayer and spiritual growth through participation in Mass and Confession. Sports, games, workshops, team dynamics, exciting night activities, swimming, and fun in the sun, are typical ECYD camp activities. There are over a dozen ECYD Girls summer camps happening in 11 different states in June and July:
Challenge Camp will be held at Camp Cho-Yeh in Livingston, Texas June 13th-16th. Email Carrie Frain for more information.

Challenge 5th/6th Grade Camp 2 is being held at Camp River Ridge in Oldenburg, Indiana, and will feature bonfires, creeking, and horseback riding.

Washington, DC is hosting two ECYD Girls camps this summer: LTP Girls Day Camp: Daughters of the King is a half-day camp that will run June 19th-23rd and is geared towards girls in 2nd-5th grade, while ECYD Summer Camp  is an overnight camp on June 25th-30th for 5th-9th grade girls and 10th-12th grade leaders.

ECYD Summer Camp Tekakwitha 1.0 takes place June 19th-24th at Bocamb Farms in Convington, Louisiana for girls going into 5th-8th grade. Camp Tekakwitha is a story camp allowing the participants to enter into the life of St. Kateri Tekakwitha of the Mohawks, learning about her lifestyle as a Native American in upstate New York in the second half of the 17th Century, her journey of discovery of the faith through the French “Black Robes,” and the development of her friendship with Jesus Christ. This year’s formation theme is Friendship with Christ and Love for the Eucharist.

Visit challengeyouthministry.com for more information about these camps, and about the camps scheduled for July.

Upcoming Boys ECYD Camps
Boys ECYD Camps are for boys in 5th-12th grade and are focused on spiritual development as well as leadership skills. There are over 25 camp locations each summer, providing boys with a unique experience of “Forging them in Virtue” with fun and adventure. Participants will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of sports, games, formative activities, spiritual talks, and prayer and the sacraments.

The first ECYD camp of the summer is the Leadership Camp at Camp Bocamb in Convington, which is happening May 30th-June 3rd. Registration for this camp closes on May 28th. Argentus Summer Camp 2023, held at the same location, will run June 5th-11th, and Argentus Day Camp, for boys entering 1st-4th grades, will be held June 27th-30th.

Camp Atlantas will be held in Jasper, Georgia on June 1st-June 10th.  Campers will enter the realm of Atlantas as squires and members of the six Houses of Atlantas, learn skills and powers from the Atlantan Knights themselves, and forge themselves as friends and apostles of Jesus Christ intent on building up and defending his Kingdom right here in the Southeast. This unique camp features medieval-style tournaments and sports, camping, hikes, wildlife skills, and even swordplay!

Dallas is hosting two camps this year: ECYD Summer Camp, Samurai – Honor & Brotherhood on June 4th-9th, and DFW Day Camp 2023 – Brotherhood on June 12th-16th.
Sacred Heart Apostolic School in Rolling Prairie, Indiana will be hosting a day camp called Camp Cristero on June 11th-16th. Contact Fr. Robert DeCesare for more information.
Camp Cincinnatus at Camp River Ridge in Oldenburg, Indiana has several camps running this summer, including a Boys Summer Camp June 11th-16th.

Fr. Andrew Gronotte, LC, will be hosting a Summer Leadership Course at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta on June 11th-17th. Contact Fr. Andrew for more information.
For more information about these camps, or the many camps being held in July and August, visit https://conquestyouthministry.com/camps/.

Highlights from the ECYD Middle School Boys National Tournament, and the Upcoming ECYD Summer Camps! Read More »

Camp Kodiak: Sons and Dads Find Fun and Faith Together

If you are looking for a summer camp for your kids you likely won’t have to look long or travel far to find something of interest.

Our Kids, an online directory to camps, lists many camps band breaks them into categories such as: sports, education, art, day, overnight, boys, girls, families, religious.

Each category has sub-categories.  For instance, sports camps are available for everything from baseball to cheerleading to sailing to wakeboarding.

There are specialized camps for cancer patients, the disabled, weight loss and the autistic.

There are old-fashioned camps where kids canoe, swim, hike and sing songs around the campfire.

Then there is a camp that doesn’t really fit into any of these categories and probably doesn’t show up on websites alongside the park district soccer camps and weeks in a tent with the scouts.

We’re talking Camp Kodiak Alaska, where Legionaries and lay Regnum Christi men offer boys and their dads two weeks of true adventure and hearty doses of the Catholic faith. This is the place for boys to be boys, men to be men, and both to find the bonds of manhood so often lacking in our culture.

Camp Kodiak began in 1996, when Fr. Kermit Syren, LC, had a dream of combining outdoor adventure with faith formation. Fr. Kermit grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and wanted boys and their dads to experience together what he had enjoyed as a boy: the Catholic faith and the beauty of God’s natural creation.

Fr. Kermit’s dream was aided by the 40 acres he owned near Wasilla (30 miles from Anchorage) before joining religious life – and which he had donated to the Legion. It was the perfect place to base his dream.

That first year there were just six boys involved. Camp Director Ray Arsenault got involved and in 1998, they built a cabin on the property – and later a second cabin on a smaller property near Wrangell/St. Elias National Park in McCarthy.

While other camps offer various programs in everything from computer science to swimming, Camp Kodiak’s “special sauce” is a remarkable blend of faith, family, and fun.

FAITH

Legionary priest and brothers are involved in all phases of the camp. There is daily Mass (even on a rafting trip or during inclement weather), Rosary, opportunities for confession and spiritual counseling and evening gospel reflections. Religious piety is observed.

“It’s the perfect combination of God and his creation,” Father Syren told the National Catholic Register in a recent article.

“I remember growing up in Alaska and being out in nature,” he recalled. “It’s about as primordial as it gets.”

FAMILY

Camp Kodiak isn’t a camp for men, boys or entire families. It is a camp where boys attend with their dads.

“Everything is done together,” camp director Arsenault explained. “We weave faith and fun adventure together – nobody get bored. Boys see their dads praying and that has an impact. Dads see their sons participating in exciting activities and that has an impact.

“We often see men who have been away from the sacraments or weak in their faith come back.”

FUN

Camp Kodiak isn’t about arts & crafts, video games or urban gardening.  This camp’s activities are serious guy stuff: sea kayaking, glacier climbing, rafting, fishing, hiking, archery, exploring, and shooting. Survival and camping and wilderness first aid skills are taught. The exciting fun is carried out with an eye on safety – and the presence of the camp doctor. The camp has a full-time cook and local guides who lend a hand.

“The fishing is remarkable,” Arsenault said. “Imagine boys catching salmon and having their fish for dinner…along a river with the mountains in the background, with their dad.”

And, of course, the physical environment is part of the magic.

Camp Kodiak offers boys a true taste of the Alaskan wilderness. Breathtaking views of glaciers, mountains and wildlife, all in an environment untouched by commercial development, providing the perfect backdrop for approximately a two-week camp session for adventure-hungry boys.

Targeting and attracting boys of high integrity and potential, the camp makes a significant impact on its participants. Rubbing shoulders with world-class leaders, the boys learn powerful tools. And, as Kodiak alumni begin to establish alliances and develop relationships, these tools are reinforced throughout life.

Camp Kodiak’s activities are geared to produce human, intellectual, cultural, and spiritual formation in a setting of adventure.

Fr. Kermit explained that in today’s culture there is a crisis of fatherhood. Dads don’t know how to model manliness and have trouble connecting with their sons. The camp is a beautiful opportunity to alter that equation.

“Sadly, we live in a world where men don’t know how to be men,” Fr. Kermit said. “And as a result, boys don’t see the men in their lives being real men. That isn’t what happens at Camp Kodiak.”

This year’s camp runs from July 7-21, with 40 participants. But even though it is too late for the 2018 edition of the camp, it isn’t too early to be thinking about 2019. Camp Director Ray Arsenault will be happy to talk with you. And you can expect him to be enthusiastic.

Having been part of Camp Kodiak from the start, Ray has seen the benefits of the program in others and in his own family.

His son has participated in the camp four times: Fr. Todd Arsenault, LC.  This year Ray will be taking his grandson to the camp for the fourth time. Ray beings an interesting – perhaps unique – perspective to the camp.

He and his family operate a dairy and saw mill on Prince Edward Island, Canada. That is at the far eastern side of North America.  The camp – near Anchorage – is at the far western side of North America. The campers come from across the continent, so it is an international effort that brings together boys and their dads from an immense area.

Fr. Kermit and the other Legionaries are the glue that hold it all together. Ray explained: “Imagine you celebrate Mass on the shore of an unspoiled river. You raft down the river, stop and catch dinner, then enjoy a meal with the mountains in the distance. You are with other men and boys and you are all sensing the presence of God and his remarkable creation.

“Who doesn’t have faith at a moment like that?”

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Alex Kucera

Atlanta

Alex Kucera has lived in Atlanta, GA, for the last 46 years. He is one of 9 children, married to his wife Karmen, and has 3 girls, one grandson, and a granddaughter on the way. Alex joined Regnum Christi in 2007. Out of the gate, he joined the Helping Hands Medical Missions apostolate and is still participating today with the Ghana Friendship Mission.

In 2009, Alex was asked to be the Atlanta RC Renewal Coordinator for the Atlanta Locality to help the RC members with the RC renewal process. Alex became a Group Leader in 2012 for four of the Atlanta Men’s Section Teams and continues today. Running in parallel, in 2013, Alex became a Team Leader and shepherded a large team of good men.

Alex was honored to be the Atlanta Mission Coordinator between 2010 to 2022 (12 years), coordinating 5-8 Holy Week Mission teams across Georgia. He also created and coordinated missions at a parish in Athens, GA, for 9 years. Alex continues to coordinate Holy Week Missions, Advent Missions, and Monthly missions at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Cumming, GA.

From 2016 to 2022, Alex also served as the Men’s Section Assistant in Atlanta. He loved working with the Men’s Section Director, the Legionaries, Consecrated, and Women’s Section leadership teams.

Alex is exceptionally grateful to the Legionaries, Consecrated, and many RC members who he’s journeyed shoulder to shoulder, growing his relationship with Christ and others along the way. He knows that there is only one way, that’s Christ’s Way, with others!