In order not to lose the fruits of his hard work and protect his young boys from the corruptions of the world St. John Bosco used to take his boys out to the countryside of his home town for camps during holidays. This largely is how the boys’ camp originated. The aim of these boys’ camps was to give the boys a bit more of Catholic education. It is with the same aim that we organised a boys’ camp for seven days in the first week of April. Six boys turned up, two adults came as helpers and a priest as the camp director.
Grub time in the old-fashioned way.
The venue chosen for the the camp was a campsite in the middle of a beautiful, 11,000-hectare farm near Dundee, Natal. It was an ideal place for the camp as it was right in the middle of the bush with no worldly distractions. We had tents as houses, mattresses as beds, torch-lights as lamps as there was no electricity, and with every other facility that a real bush can offer the boys so that they could practise some real Christian virtues which would make them real men. The boys spent each day on different activities: spiritual, intellectual and physical. Every day they got up at 6:30 in the morning, said their prayers, attended Holy Mass, learnt catechism and how to serve Mass and stored energy in their hungry tummies. The afternoon was spent in brave and boyish physical activities, such as the 10-metre water jump, 150-metre long foofie slide, swimming, walking, volleyball, soccer and cricket. The evening ended with the rosary, a hearty supper, quizz and story of a saint near the campfire and, finally, night prayers and bed at 9:30 pm in silence. All these activities, nevertheless, did not keep them away from washing dishes every day!
One may wonder how on earth the boys were able to do all this every day. But the fact is that they did and all of them adapted themselves very well to this busy schedule which did not exclude good fun and cheer at all. One of our boys became the record-holder of the youngest boy (8 years old) to do the 10-metre water jump. The highlight of the camp was the 15 km walk through the farm, which lasted three and a half hours. All the boys walked the whole distance and they were very happy to learn afterwards that we were the first group to have done such a walk in that form. Awards were given at the end of the camp to those boys who excelled in good behaviour, catechism, altar service, games and good learning. It is amazing to see how much progress the boys can make in their behaviour and abilities in a short time in the camp. This is why the boys’ camp is so important for our growing boys. It is a powerful tool to make our boys grow in the Catholic Faith and in the practice of Christian virtues which are indispensable to them in their battle against sin and Satan.
We take this opportunity to thank all the parents who entrusted their boys to our care for seven days. We also thank Mr. J. Reilman who came as a helper, Mrs. M. Palmer who came as the cook, Mr. and Mrs. P. Duval who organized the campsite for us and all those who have helped us for the camp in one way or another. Let us pray and hope that divine Providence allow us to organize many more of these camps for the restoration of everything in Christ the King.