Summer Family Camps for 2021 Officially Over
We mentioned in the last newsletter that our very first Summer Catholic Family Camp was a great success. We are happy to report that Camps 2 and 3 were totally amazing, too! We've just started to go over the evaluations from the families, and it seems as though they are in agreement.
About a week after one of the camps we received a handwritten thank you note from one of the families which brought tears to our eyes. The mom and dad write:
"Our week was a gift. It was fun, it was convicting, it was clarifying, it was bonding. Even those descriptions don't fully capture it, but we assure you, it was the best things we've done for and with our family thus far in our lives. . . "
That's pretty high praise for the camp!!! We think we are on the start of something really good for families and are so excited to continue this next summer with a couple more weeks of camps added. We'll follow a similar pattern, but as we continue to read the evaluations and reflect with our interns, we'll continue to grow and develop our Catholic Family Camp program. Stay tuned! Registration will open in January.
Each Had a Purpose. Each Was Part of the Plan.
It took some brave families to trailblaze and attend these first camps at Heart Ridge. We believe that God found each one of these families and brought them here. We had families from all over the U.S. like Ohio, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Vermont, Kansas, and more. Each a very special part of the camp.
However, it took some even braver young adults to give up their summer to serve as Heart Ridge Catholic Family camp interns. And we believe that God handpicked each one of these smiling faces not only for us, Keith and Tami, to help us with this monumental task, and not just for the camp families, with whom they built lasting relationships, and happily served. And not only so that these interns will be lifelong friends to support each other, but because each one of them had particular gifts that they added to the Family Camp Program. Pictured from left to right below. Zoe who is studying music therapy at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh accompanied us in all our music. Sophie who is studying child development at Anderson University is particularly great with toddlers and babies. Esther, who is our 9 year old daughter, served as an "intern" as well, welcoming children and being an errand runner. Gabe, senior in high school, also our son, is well adept at sports and great at leading older children. Maura who is a grad student in architecture at Clemson is a gifted photographer. Ben (not pictured) is not only very handy, but is a great spiritual leader. We had the dream team for our first year and thank God often for this provision.
Upon our final evaluation and wrap-up meeting with the interns, we found out that this experience was definitely a gift for them. Can you guess what they unanimously said was the greatest highlight of the summer? No, it wasn't putting beds together in the lodge the day before camp was to start, or washing dishes in the kitchen, although you might seriously think that if you walked past the kitchen and heard music jamming with the interns singing at the top of their lungs. They said it was getting to know the families that came to camp. This is what was most meaningful to them. After a camp was over, the interns would reminisce about the families like they had been lifelong friends and experienced years living together.
May God continue to bless these interns--and we'll start praying now for the interns that God will send us for next summer.
Heart Ridge Posts 2020-2021 Calendar of Events
Since the end of the camps in July, we have been busy hosting other events mostly for groups who are on a retreat. So far, all the groups have been very pleased and have loved what Heart Ridge has to offer. We are finding that we are the perfect spot for a retreat with 15-50 people.
We also have the capacity for larger events, with total 80 beds, and a cafeteria that sits 100. We've successfully hosted a couple events with these numbers and have a couple more on the calendar coming up.
As we still very new to the "retreat and culture center" business, we continue to pray for guidance of what God would like to see happen here.
We have a calendar page on the website that shows events that we are putting on that are open to everyone. We have another calendar which shows dates of private events that we are hosting. Some of these will take the whole retreat center while others are just partial. If you are looking to bring your group here, please check this calendar for available dates. We would love to have you! And we do need to fill our calendar to pay all of the bills.
Highlights of some of our own events are a Work and Play day on Sunday, Oct. 3. This is a great time to come with the family to help us handle all of our leaves--and we have so many! We rake, and rake, and rake. When the day is finished, or we just can rake no longer, we have fellowship and food around a bonfire. Drop by for the day or just a couple hours! Bring a rake!
Please mark your calendar for our first "Immersive Study" the weekend of November 19th. These "Immersive Studies" will be workshop/retreats that will enable the attendees to go deeper into a particular subject. These will be taught by experts in the field with time for conversation, discussion, and personal prayer. If you want to grow in both your spiritual life and knowledge of the faith, these are a great way to do it. The weekends also provide time away from the busyness of life to reflect more deeply and have quiet rest. Our first one will be on the book by St. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle. It will be taught by Sr. Gertrude Gillette, superior of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Peace, former Associate Professor of Theology at Ave Maria University. Registration starts August 15.
Finally, we will close the year with a great family celebration called First Night. It will start with a Saturday full of activities like crafts, games, and a hike. We will then welcome in the New Year with a vigil mass celebrating Mary, Mother of God, followed by food, games, and music. Families will be invited to spend the night and wake the next morning for breakfast and a time of fellowship. Reservations for this event will open Oct. 1. There will be options for accommodations or to commute.
Some Boring Stuff--But with a fun twist!
We have been declared an official "public well" by the people of the Department of Health of South Carolina. You can now confidently know that all your drinking and bathing water is safe, regulated and monitored with weekly and annual check-ups. Getting all of our wells, pumps, faucets up to speed has been one of our recent tedious tasks--but we think we are all clear now, and everything is well. (Did you get those two puns in a row?!?)
But to spruce up this story--we've decided to ask for some help in our last task for our water system--painting our 5000 gallon tank. I thought Facebook would be a better place to comment so if you have an idea, please post it over there.