Following is a testimony, reprinted from the Conquest website
and originally run on the blog http://urbanpapist.blogspot.com/), written by
Rod McDonald, a grandfather who accompanied his grandson on a
weekend camping trip at Camp Brebeuf, north of Milton, Ontario.
What is it about the Conquest Club weekend at Camp
Brebeuf that continues to draw more and more boys every
Is it the wild abandon and exhilaration offered by bush
games like "Capture the Flag? Is it the knee-knocking challenge
of the high ropes, or the true grit required to
complete the rock climb? Or could it be the simple,
basic pleasure of roasting marshmallows over the glowing coals of
a pit fire nestled deep in the thick, dark forest
which, as Gordon Lightfoot put it, is too silent to
I believe it is all of these and much
more. Once again, under the leadership of Carl Pinto, who,
over the years, has perfected the Camp Brebeuf weekend into
an art, and Marvin Duarte, Director of Milton´s Conquest Club,
boys from the Milton and Pickering clubs lived their faith
in nature, far from the confusing and misleading racket of
television and the internet.
Leading the spiritual component of the weekend
were Father Thomas Murphy L.C. and Brother Nathan, both of
whom gave their last ounce of energy to assure that
the boys would come out of this weekend much more
vibrant in their Catholic faith formation, and spiritual growth, well
on their way to becoming strong Catholic men.
I recall one
special moment as we sat around the woodstove in the
log cabin chapel as Father Murphy told the boys stories
about the lives of the saints. Here we were in
a camp named after a Canadian Jesuit martyr in the
year of a new Jesuit pope. Could it get any
more relevant than that?
The only sound was Father Murphy´s voice,
and the snapping and crackling of the wood in the
stove. All eyes were glued on this dedicated priest as
he guided the boys´ imaginations down the demanding path of
sainthood, and its meaning for all of us. What he
gave the boys were true role models for survival in
a distracting, secular world.
Another memorable time was the Rosary being
recited by the God Squad around the roaring pit fire
after all the younger boys had left to prepare for
lights out. I was impressed by the boys´ concentration and
focus on the mysteries and by their devotion to Mary.
The chanting of the prayers seemed to bounce off the
maples, and head up through the opening in the canopy
along with the sparks, and on out into the dark
ceiling covered in pinpoints of light. It truly was a
very special time for us all.
On another occasion, the boys
presented skits on the elevated stage in front of the
fire pit. The orange flames flickering in the night provided
excellent lighting, and added to the drama of the presentations.
In one skit, we got to meet a fickle Pontius
Pilate, and a rather despicable Barabus, and the boys got
to witness firsthand the injustice and cruelty of the whole
scene, and got to experience it up close. In another,
we saw the Good Samaritan do what all Christians are
called to do, even though others have failed, and it
is much easier to pass by. The magic of this
occasion was watching the Bible come to life, and seeing
the excitement and focus of the young boys who looked
up to their older peers with admiration, and an obvious
ambition to be part of future skits at Camp Brebeuf.
morning, as my eight-year-old grandson climbed the tall hydro pole,
I checked in with Saint Michael asking him to guide
the little fellow as far as he wished to go.
When he reached the top, and it was time to
cross the horizontal ladder, he began to shake, and asked
to be lowered, and as he stood on the solid
earth, people were telling him that he had done well
and had improved a lot since last year. His father
consoled him, and I could tell that he would be
stronger for this experience, and that he was determined to
better it next time around. I told him later that
St. Michael had been there beside him, and that seemed
to add extra comfort and solace, and lighten the load.
would think that everyone at the camp experienced their own
set of magical moments, and I do not know what
they are; however, I am certain that Jesus witnessed them
all, and that he was happy with them, and he
saw that it was good.
For what on earth can compare
with boys bonding with each other and with their fathers,
praying the Rosary together, attending mass in the Pine Cathedral,
learning to appreciate and give thanks for the food they
receive, and growing side by side in their Catholic faith?
guess the overriding question is what on earth can compare
with a camp which leads boys on the long road
to manhood, sainthood and beyond?
Very little, I say. Very little