The Camp St. Raphael Experience by Jonathan McNary

Jonathan at Camp St. Raphael

What is Camp St. Raphael?

Camp St. Raphael is the youth camp of the Diocese of Witchita and Mid-America for youth ages 8 – 17.  From the first day of camp to the last, everyone has a specific schedule. When you, along with your cabin and brother cabin wake up to begin the day, you start with chores that are listed for you.  These chores vary every day for everyone.

Next is breakfast time and from there we all go to Orthros (morning prayer) at the chapel. When Orthros has ended, we are given the activities that have been planned for us to do with our sister cabin. This lasts two periods that are around 45 minutes to an hour each. One of those periods is an activity that you do with your sister cabin.  The other period is Christian Ed with your sister cabin.  Your Christian Ed teacher has been given to accompany you through this learning experience.

Next is a brief cabin time, which is followed by lunch.  After lunch there is afternoon program. This consists of various activities that you can choose from and were chosen the night before. Afternoon program lasts two periods.  From there your cabin along with your brother cabin go back for a longer cabin time before dinner. Directly after dinner you have Vespers (evening prayer) at the chapel. Then begins evening program which also changes every night at camp. This is your daily routine for the entire week while you are at Camp St. Raphael.

The Nature of Camp St. Raphael

This was my first year at Camp St. Raphael and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience for my first time going.  From the time you arrive you never stop feeling like you are part of a family. The moment you arrive you are greeted by everyone telling you that they are happy to have you with them and telling you they can’t wait to get to know you. As the week goes on, you only grow closer to people and make more friends that you never want to lose contact with.  It not only brought me closer to people there that I had never met before, but going also brought me closer to my friends in my own youth group.  For me, it was the first time in a long time that I was able to focus in on and enjoy the present without focusing on the past or future.  I was very blessed to get to go and experience what very few people get to experience.

Spiritual Benefits of the Camp

This camp also brought me closer to God through the spiritual benefits displayed through both the people and offered in the spiritual activities you partake in.  Camp, to me and to others in my youth group, feels like a little piece of heaven.  You go to church every morning and night. You feel like you are able to live in the present and not worry about the past or the future. Everyone is a huge family and you don’t have to worry about being judged for your belief because everyone is equal in their faith.  The spiritual experience you get at Camp St. Raphael is very unique and is an experience that not many get to be a part of.