ITALY, Braulio Heisecke/Misión Roma •
On Sunday, 28 June, we departed along with thirty other boys from Sani Patroni d’Italia parish, which is run by the Schoenstatt Fathers, to “Campo Estivo 2015” [Summer Camp 2015]; a camp that was organized by the parish youths ages 15-17.
A camp for the parish youth
After being in the city of Rome for about four months, enjoying ourselves, meeting people, perfecting the language, establishing attachments and especially praying, we, as a group, had a great challenge– to accompany a group of youths in organizing a camp for the parish’s youngest children.
It was their first experience in organizing things on their own; this was our idea from the start, to offer them a life experience, a small great work offered to the parish and above all to the youngest, in order to re-establish the tradition of camps that had been lost for sometime.
After nearly two months of preparation, with weekly meetings and tasks divided into groups, the date arrived and the great adventure began. The boys’ parents and we departed from the parish in Rome toward one of the largest natural wonders in the Italian republic, the “Gran Sasso”, with an altitude of 2,912 m. (9,554 ft.). It is the highest peak in the Apennines mountain range, located in the chain of the Abruzzo Mountains on the border between the province of Téramo and L’Aquila.
To climb to the peak
We stayed at an old hostel that hosted us for the four days of the camp. The simple fact of knowing that this hostel is 1,850 meters high above sea level was stunning, this altitude is practically twice the equivalent of “Cerro Tres Knadu,” which the highest point in Paraguay with a height 842 meters.
The camp was basically carried out with morning walks on the mountain and its surroundings. In the afternoon, there were sports tournaments and competitions as well as intellectual ones. Each activity always corresponded to a group guided by one of the older boys; this created a feeling of belonging to the group and always seeking to win as a team.
The walks around the base of the mountain and its surroundings comprised our first outings and the morning’s main activities. This acted as training for the great challenge of the climbing goal that was the road between two of Gran Sasso’s highest peaks, “il Corno Piccolo” and “Il Corno Grande” reaching 2,400 meters in height. This presented a great challenge both physically and mentally, since we were taking children ages 10 and up.
An experience and a testimony
Our experience as missionaries after accompanying the boys throughout all the previous work was very good. Bonds were greatly strengthened, and I am especially stressing the time, laughter, and responsibilities we shared, and the things that we learned from each other. Working as a team to reach this great and common goal was a very beneficial and beautiful experience, and it was a testimony to the youngest one and the parish’s families.
On one hand, the camp symbolized the beginning of an activity that been lost over time; as missionaries we firmly believe that it is good strategy to create traditions and a certain kind of spiritual experience within every kind of youth group. In the beginning, it is clearly a slow, arduous process, but once things are settled, they catch on and suddenly tasks become activities that “must” be attended and that everyone wants to participate in because a large part of the spirituality and the strong experiences during the year take place during these activities.
On the other hand, it marked the closing of the parish activities, the end of the school year, and therefore we had a very special time with the boys and families. Being at camp also marked five months since our arrival, and we realized that there is already a certain bond among all of us. It was a very beautiful experience for us; we feel loved by the family, and God was very much present during the camp, granting us very intimate moments with the parents and the boys. The fact that we came and placed ourselves at the service of others also gave us the opportunity to get to know people well, to create friendships, and to share this experience of faith.
This mountain was a source of inspiration and motivation
While climbing a mountain, one concentrates on conserving strength and climbing step by step toward the goal, the peak. Then once all that energy, concentration and passion is expended, one turns to see the entire road traveled and everything that was left behind. One pauses to appreciate and to enjoy all the fruits of the efforts previously made. The view seen from the peak of a mountain is always incredible no matter how high or how low it is. As missionaries, I believe that the camp was an important point in our scaling to the peak, the goal that we had as a group. The camp was a pause, where we stopped to make a small, (but important) pause, where we could turn around to see what we had walked. Realizing that we were very high, that we made a great effort to reach this place, and also realizing that we still a lot more to climb, there is still a lot of work to be done, yet most of all, there is still much to learn and to share.
This mountain we climbed did not intimidate us, on the contrary, it was a source of inspiration and motivation, because mountains were made to be climbed.