A spirited game of “rock, paper, scissors” opened the 8th annual Service & Song Camp this week at Saint Viator High School, and as advertised it broke down barriers between the nearly 90 students on hand, who ranged from 6th graders through high school students.
Teens divide up into groups and spread out each afternoon to serve at social service agencies across the Northwest suburbs. Each afternoon starts with a reflection on their service and people they impact, as well as a song led by student musicians and choral members.
“Dear God, help us to serve and grow together, meet new people, make new friends and do what you want us to do,” said Matt Goss ’20, who is serving as co-emcee with Faith Kuper ’20.
For the first time, Br. Peter Lamick, CSV, is directing the camp. Though he has participated as an adult leader — he credits his vocation, in part, to the hands-on service experienced at the camp — this is the first year he trained its leaders and organized the camp.
“This week, we’re going to build community by responding and reaching out to people in need in a lot of different ways,” Br. Lamick said at the outset.
First timers at the camp were more than just junior high students. Athan Huelscamp ’20, told his group that this was his first year and he was excited to participate.
“I transferred here after sophomore year,” he told them, “and last year I wasn’t able to do it. I was looking for ways to get involved in more service.”
After the opening prayer, Br. Lamick asked each student to reflect on what injustice in the world bothers them the most. They then proceeded to write out those injustices on sheets of paper hanging on the back wall of Querbes Hall. Their answers ranged from hunger, homelessness and poverty, to gun violence and human trafficking.
“The most prevalent answer among all your responses was hunger,” Br. Lamick told the crowd, “and this week we will be doing many things to respond.”
Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, a former teacher and president of Saint Viator, organized the camp, in part to directly involve incoming students into service, and give current students a chance to serve as leaders.
Over the course of five afternoons, groups will sort food at area food pantries, collect canned goods in surrounding neighborhoods, make hospice blankets, do light maintenance and yard work at the homes of senior citizens, help at resource centers for the homeless and at another for victims of domestic violence, as well as work in two local gardens — including the Viatorian Community Garden — that raise fresh vegetables for hungry families.
“That’s why so many of you come back each year,” Br. Lamick said to the 90 teens assembled, “you’re living the vision — and putting faith into action.”