From July 15th to 17th, the ICCC has welcomed, for the third time, the Brooklyn Youth Group Summer Camp. Therese B., French volunteer who accompanied the group through the year summarizes their experience in these words:
It was only one week after coming back from the Camp, that I became aware of the impact of a project such as the Summer Camp for these youth. While visiting some friends in our project, I saw the youngest of the group distract from her television screen to sing along with me the songs learned at the Camp. Indeed, these three days are their only vacation time, the only time they leave their homes and their problems, to see the “extra-ordinary” world of the campaign and camping. But more than a holiday, it is above all, three days that transformed them.
An imaginary was set up throughout the camp: a common theme linked the various activities together. Thus, this year, our six youth were surprised to land not in the foothills of the Catskills as they thought, but ... on the island of Molokai! The island, originally located on an archipelago of Hawaii, was home for sixteen years to Saint Damien, Belgian missionary who devoted his life to the leper colony of Molokai. Throughout the evenings, the games, etc. we got to share with them the beauty of a life given to others; The installation of tents reminiscent of Saint Damien building churches that were then default on the island, a game of mimics told of his arrival on the island and of his death. Similarly, the establishment of rules of common life and the shifts of services echoed life on Molokai Island in the middle of the eighteenth century.
The best reward of this summer camp is undoubtedly the fact of seeing our youth grow: to see them give their opinion, take initiatives, support the younger ones. And not only did our youth grow, but also did the friendship among them. It’s overwhelming to realize that they know what is happening in the lives of each other, and they now come together even outside the formal Brooklyn Youth Group meetings! A very nice turnaround to which we, the Heart’s Home volunteers, are but the amazed “witnesses.”
This Summer Camp has been an opportunity for our youth to be children again and to prepare to become adults at the same time: they enjoy running in the tall grass to escape the “Pirates of the island” but also they took the time to clear the table or to gather wood for the fire ... These are some of the very simple things that they were offered during these three days. Simple things that will remain in their hearts, we hope, like a seed that continues to grow and grow.