Camp First for Some, Familiar to Others
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
July 27, 2017

ROCKFORD—“My attitude was, ‘Why not?’ ” said first time First Call camper Declan Barth, a sophomore at Marmion Academy in Aurora and parishioner at Holy Cross in Batavia.

He and about 20 other campers were  lunching on July 24 after a morning that included Mass, a talk, small group sharing, and an obstacle course followed by daytime prayer.

This year’s camp for older high school and college men, took place July 23-26 at Bishop Lane Retreat Center. It was the last of three camps sponsored by the Rockford Diocese Vocations Office this summer.

Already on the first day, Barth said he discovered that “seminarians are not that different” from other guys. “It’s not like they’re mystical.”

His insight prompted a chuckle and nod from seminarian Nathan Pacer, seated with Barth and with John and Joe Tuttle, who were also first timers at the annual vocation camp.

The Tuttle brothers are altar servers at their parish, St. Edward in Rockford, and had been urged by their pastor to give the camp a try.

John, who is in his second year of college studies, said he appreciated the opportunity to become familiar with different lifestyles. He called the camp a “very good way to discern” future steps in life.

“The Liturgy of the Hours is completely new for me,” he said, adding he liked that daily set of prayers and had enjoyed adoration that morning when he awoke.

His brother, a high school senior, simply smiled as he said he had “tagged along” and was “taking it all in.”

There is a lot to take in at the vocation camp. Traditional summer camp activities are mingled with daily prayer times and talks about priestly vocations, prayer, religious life and the vocation of marriage and family.

“The talks have been good so far,” said high school junior Franco Monaco, who was seated next to his brother, seminarian Miles Monaco. He said his mother used that brotherly connection to encourage him to come to the camp.

Seminarian Scotty Girolamo of McHenry also was working at the First Call Camp this year. Years ago, he attended Jeremiah Days for boys. He said the vocation camps were “definitely helpful” for discernment and he is happy to be experiencing the camp from the seminarian perspective. That viewpoint, he said, of helping out and watching the campers grow “is amazing for me to be able to see.”