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Turn to Jesus (Article)

The Joy of Being a Catholic Boy
Conquest Club campers learn the art of warfare, Catholic style.

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Conquest campers on the lookout.

By Mark Cordero

They came from places as near as Malvern, PA and as far as Paris, France and Barcelona, Spain. They had different backgrounds and mother languages, but they all had one thing in common: they were all boys and they liked what just about every boy likes: to run, play, compete, and battle invaders trying to capture their team’s flag, or to protect their handmade makeshift fort, a stronghold in the woods constructed from branches, dead wood, and logs that teams of 17 boys could chop and carry.

This year’s Conquest camp was held from July 7-13 in Elizabethtown, PA, in Lancaster County where a businessman generously donated the use of his 300-acre farm property. The theme was “Call & Duty,” a play on the popular video game “Call of Duty,” but without the gory details—and with a focus on serving God, and building a strong foundation of our
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Search and destroy.
Catholic faith. All this this took place under the direction of Father Daniel Brandenburg, LC and his team of Legionary Brs: Br Nathan Torrey, Br Keegan McDermott, Br Daniel Turski and Br Daniel Rolczynski.

View a video of highlights from the camp here.

Battle Ready

The 34 campers were divided into 6 teams, and were encouraged to earn their team points by participation, activities, chores, Catholic trivia, and response times, all aimed at achieving the end-of-week awards.

On the first full day, they had boot camp, complete with a competition of teambuilding to construct water balloon launchers out of an oil funnel and rubber tubing with the ever important team coordination to ensure the “artillery” accuracy and distance of the launch. That day
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The soldiers take a break for a Bible study with Br Nathan.
a rain storm added realism of battle conditions. And as each day started to wind down, Fr Daniel celebrated Mass, where all the campers attended and took turns assisting as lectors, altar servers, sextant and other roles. Their reverence and dedication were a joy to behold.

The second full day, after the campers’ breakfast cleanup, Br Nathan taught a Bible reading out in the spacious back garden area, followed by some free time by the pool, and then a game of soccer. After that, the boys boarded the bus for an hour’s drive to Gettysburg, where they toured the battlefield and the confederate re-enactors explained about the weaponry and strategies employed during the campaign. One of the highlights that the boys enjoyed most was the firing of the guns and when the soldiers turned to the crowd to charge with bayonets drawn. Later that evening the boys were treated to the use of the property owners’ very own luxury movie theater, where they saw the Civil War movie, “Glory,” about the first Black regiment that fought at Fort Wagner in South
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Building a fort.

The days that followed proved to be action packed. The fort-building event proved to be a tremendous success as the boys tirelessly chopped logs, carried beach ball sized rocks, and scavenged for natural materials to construct a defensive stronghold to keep out the opposition. The following day was the battle. The July heat wave caused the combatants to welcome the much feared artillery of choice: “The water balloon.”  After some stiff fighting, the boys looked forward to free time in the swimming pool, where the diving board was a favorite feature.

Fighting Vice

Each day throughout the week, the boys learned about vices and virtues through Father Daniel’s homilies at Mass. Then, at any given moment throughout the week, dark characters representing
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Some of the "Seven Vices" tooling around the camp, stirring up trouble.
vices would appear hiding around corners or in the shadows of the nearby woods. “The Gorilla“ and the “Escaped Convict” (played by our dedicated staff) prowled the premises, armed smoke bombs, fireworks, and water guns. The campers earned bonus points if they could capture the “Bad Vices” and make good prevail over evil.

On the 6th day, the campers and staff went on a paintball trip where they separated into 2 teams: the campers and the boys’ fathers versus staffers Todd Brechbill, Jaime Cottle, Court Abel and Michael Jacobeen, Br Nathan Torrey (who showed incredible bravery and foot speed), Br Daniel Turski (who displayed much fearlessness), Br Daniel Rolczynski (who can take a shot and still have fight left in him), and finally, Fr Daniel, who played so intensely that if
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Campers on the bus to Gettysburg, PA.
the US Army finds out, we may need to find a replacement for him because they would try to recruit him in a heartbeat. The boys learned strategies in ground warfare that couldn’t be learned playing in the back yard.

As the week ended many of the campers looked forward to returning next year. Although the staff ached and suffered much pain from the multiple paintball welts, long hours of planning and wearing the hot monkey suit in that heat, they started counting down the days for next year, where they can once again live their younger days of being a boy!

The Conquest Clubs are a national network of leadership programs, clubs, and camps for boys and young men 5 - 16 years of age. Conquest Clubs train boys to become self-disciplined and confident young men, Catholic leaders who possess moral integrity and are committed to improving the communities in which they live. They can be found on the internet at

Copyright © Mark Cordero
July 2011
All Rights Reserved



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