Bringing the Love of Christ to Camp

       Right now, on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation and at the SOLT Mission of St. Ann’s, a fresh excitement and enthusiasm fills the air. With the school year over and summertime in full force, volunteers from all over the country have been arriving to staff and serve the 18th annual St. Ann’s Summer Camp. This six-week long enterprise brings the light of Christ and the New Evangelization to the Native American (Chippewa and Metis) children in a fresh and accessible way, with an open invite to all kids of the Reservation. The volunteers serve two weeks with 7th-9th graders, two weeks with 4th-6th graders, and two weeks with the teeny-weeny 1st-3rd graders. Every day, these children of God experience Him in Mass, prayer, skits, talks, and also in the love and grace flowing through relationships with the self-giving volunteers that have gathered to serve. The campers also learn arts and crafts. They dance and sing. They participate in games and sports sessions, and they forget for six hours a day the problems and heaviness they may experience in their home lives. They laugh and breathe.

Who are these volunteers that come to share with these campers the love and light of Christ? What drew them? How do they hope to serve? These young men and women come from eleven different states. Most of them are on their summer breaks from college. For some, this is their first time doing mission work, or their first time up at St. Ann’s. For others, this is their fifth time or third or second year returning. They have heard of our summer camp from friends, from family, from parish priests, from SOLT members, their parish youth minister, or the SOLT website. They come with their gifts, laughter and love, and with a great desire to make a difference, as St. Peter tells us, “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10). Briana Villarreal from Del Rio, Texas, writes: “I want to show this community that they are loved by Christ and by me; that they have someone to lean on.” Blair Harbison from Panama City, Fla. hopes “to allow the Lord to work in me in such a way that the campers are able to see the joy that living in Christ brings.” “I am most excited to work with the amazing staff and the other counselors…to serve the wonderful children attending the camp and to be completely surrounded by Christ’s love for a month and a half” says Reygan Jagneaux from Ville Platte, La. However, not everyone serving the camp came from far away. Two of the camp counselors, Kiana Brunelle and Dusty Keplin, attended St. Ann’s Summer Camps as children, and have chosen to stay in Belcourt for the summer to serve their own people. Kiana writes, “I hope to give the kids an inspiration and someone to look up to.” And they will. They all will make a difference in how they will give of themselves.

Will you also support these counselors and our St. Ann’s Summer Camp? Please, please pray for our kids and our mission, that the love of Christ this summer will find its way into their hearts and homes and overtake them completely and forever. Thank you for your prayers and sacrifices! For more information, please visit our website at Ave Maria!

The 2017 Summer Volunteers at St. Ann’s