As there were only seven students in Form 5, it was decided to included the 16 students from Form 4 for the Confirmation Camp conducted by Martin Jalleh. It was held on the weekend at the beginning of the school holidays, the 11th to the 13th March. This camp gave the opportunity of cultivating a better rapport between these two groups of youth at CDM. It was also a chance to let the youth to know the ways in which they may continue to grow in their faith as well as the spiritual challenges they will eventually face in the outside world, away from the comforts of home and family.
The parents gave their support by handling all the food arrangements and being chaperons at CDM over two nights at this stay-in camp. In order to reduce the costs, Fr Martin Arlando, parish priest of CDM instructed that the cost for the camp be minimal and the CEC (Catholic Education Committee) was to sponsor any student whose family currently faced financial difficulties.
The camp was conducted in the spirit of openness where each participant was encouraged to express their feelings without prejudice or fear. It began with Martin asking each one to let others know how they perceived their world. Opinions ranged from “perfect” to “complicated”, “depressing”, “stressful” and “a roller coaster ride”. Martin emphasized that the world is forever changing and they need to understand that often their parents do not like the change and will maintain their old ways to protect them. He stressed that their parents will be the ones who will always be there for them now matter what the circumstances. In this session they were related instances where it was imperative for them to cherish who they were and the importance of self-awareness and self esteem in living their lives. Later, many of the participants remarked that they realized their strengths and to appreciate themselves and the gifts God had given them.
In another session, the participants were told that God had everything and had no need for them but he created them out of His love for them. They were guided through a biblical reflection to discover God’s love and mercy for them through the Catholic Church’s teachings. In a group dynamics session, they participated in activities that required them to cooperate with each other non-verbally. They were also asked to carry out some activities that showed the very nature of human behavior in avoiding embarrassment and fear when put under scrutiny or in a position of responsibility.
Many found the healing session meaningful and it gave them a chance to forgive others and themselves to proceed forward in their lives. The most lively session was on Christian sexuality and Boy-Girl relationships. As there were a few participants who were from marriages where one parent was a non-catholic, much debate was also generated on the complications and support on the often confusing direction of the faith development of their children. Martin also reminded them of their commitment as confirmed Catholics and importance of works of Mercy in their lives. At the end of the camp, the participants were very engrossed in reading the affirmation notes left by their now close friends.
At the parents session, Martin explained to the parents that the world is in constant change. As parents they need to know when to rein in and when to let go. He provided the analogy of flying a kite. We all wanted our kite (child) to soar but it will not do so if we just keep on reining in the string. He cited some observations of the behavior of their children much to their surprise that this was so obvious in such a short time he had with their children. He explained the fears and challenges faced by their children and stressed the importance of positive affirmation in their children’s lives.
It is hoped that this motivating camp would encourage greater participation among the youth towards activities in church as it was the safest environment for the children to grow spiritually.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
31st March, 2016.