girls and six adults launched the first Camp Kenai Outdoor
Adventure Camp in the Kenai Peninsula (Alaska) this July 2012.
The camp consisted of a five-day, forty-mile backpacking trip on
Resurrection Trail, days of horseback riding, white water rafting, bike
riding, 4-wheeling, gold-panning, glacier visiting, waterfall climbing, moose and bear-sighting,
camping, daily Mass, a Eucharistic Procession and much more!
a consecrated woman from Washington State and now working in
Atlanta, shares 9 lessons learnt while roughing it in the
Decide what’s essential for the trip and get rid of
the unessential, if you are determined to persevere until the
end of the trail. There are no pack donkeys or
horses, so you bear the consequences of your inability to
detach from any non-essentials. In other words, pick up your
backpack (1/3 of your body weight) and follow Him.
If you start to feel a
“hot spot” on your foot, tell the medic immediately. If not, a blister will quickly form and make
things more difficult than they were before. On a spiritual
note, go to Confession or speak with a trusted friend
or mentor before a little problem picks up unnecessary momentum.
Drink water and
eat periodically when walking the trail, otherwise you risk dehydration
or exhaustion. One of our campers learned this
lesson the hard way and had to miss fun activities.
This rule applies to our prayer life. We need to
be nourished by Christ in prayer at all times.
The temptation to stop
walking on the trail due to fatigue is to focus
inward, to experience isolation from the others. The key is
to address it or redirect your attention heavenward to the
beauty above and around you. We told stories, jokes or
prayed the Rosary to redirect a struggling girl’s attention. One
of the priests walked backwards and made her look out
for his safety as a means of playfully distracting her.
Giving the right
value to essential things is critical for “happy trails.” The whole group had to sacrifice so that there
would be enough materials for everyone. We had many opportunities
to live charity and to be attentive to the needs
energy to increase energy. We were wet, tired,
and ready to take a long break when the opportunity
to go sledding presented itself. We ran up
a mountain, tackled each other in the snow, had a
snowball fight, went sledding and ended up with more energy
and joy than when we started. imilarly, isn’t
it true that there’s more joy in giving than in
receiving? And in giving ourselves to others we
often find that we receive more than we give?
Teamwork = survival. Our
white-water rafting guide told us that if one of us
fell out of the boat, the rule was to pick
up our feet and ride the waves. The
last thing we ought to do, he told us, was
to attempt to stand up straight in the moving river. If one of our feet or legs was
to get caught on something under water, that would be
“all she wrote.”
When one of the girls
fell out of and under her moving boat, she depended
on the help of her teammates to grab her and
pull her back up into the boat. In
a similar way, we need to remain close to “the
boat” of the Church, and ultimately the Lord when we
experience difficulty. Those of us in “the boat”
also need to be on the active lookout to help
others in their time of need.
Beauty matters, even when no one is looking. Girls
are fashion-conscious, even on a 16 day trek in the
wilderness… It would seem that one wouldn’t care,
especially when there aren’t any boys around, but in general,
girls like to look good.
We never walk alone. The bear
and moose footprints and scat were a constant reminder that
we weren’t alone on the trails. The animal markings and
towering mountains led one of the girls to remember the
famous “footprints” prayer and to discover God’s presence in His
creation and in each of the people on the trip.
Camp Kenai is open to girls ages 14-18. The
dates for next summer’s Camp Kenai are July 7-21, 2013. Save the date, check out the website www.campkenai.com, and contact the camp director, Shelby, at firstname.lastname@example.org for