After seven years as a camper at Camp Gray, Frances Kelly served on Camp’s Summer Camp Staff for the first time in 2021. Originally from Sun Prairie, Frances will be a junior this upcoming fall at Louisiana State University (Geaux Tigers!). Majoring in Construction Management, Frances left Camp last summer believing that her time at Camp Gray was over. She certainly desired more summers of CTF on the AF, fishing for Walter, forming lifelong friendships, competing in the Cassidy Games, and quiet time in the Chapel. However, she recognized that subsequent summers would require her to seek out an internship or a job in her field of study – if only she could combine her love of Camp Gray and her aspirations for working in construction…
St. John Paul II once said, “In the designs of Providence, there are no mere coincidences.”
Walk into Camp’s St. Francis of Assisi Chapel, and one can’t help but be inspired by the simple beauty of the quaint, holy space. Built in 2005 to give Camp a dedicated Chapel, it has been the heart of all we do at Camp Gray for nearly two decades. Throughout summer, the Chapel rarely sits empty. If there isn’t group prayer, daily mass, or scheduled adoration, you’ll almost always find someone soaking up quiet time with the Lord. We’re beyond blessed at Camp Gray to have a Chapel, a place set aside from the craziness of Camp, a place where the Eucharist is always present in the tabernacle. However, over the past many years, thanks be to God, we’ve begun to outgrow the quaint, holy space.
This past spring, as Frances was making summer plans, she sought to obtain employment or an internship from construction companies in either Baton Rouge, LA, or in her hometown of Sun Prairie. A prayerful woman, she spent lots of time during this process seeking direction from the Lord.
Providentially, as she learned of the expansion to Camp’s Chapel, it occurred to her that perhaps there was a way to have her cake and eat it, too (which is an expression that doesn’t really make sense, but regardless, it seems applicable).
A few weeks later, as Summer Camp 2022 kicked off, Frances found herself back at Camp Gray. By night (and late afternoon), Frances is a part of the Summer Camp Staff. By day (and early morning), she’s a ringer for Bachmann Construction, the fine folks that are expanding the Chapel. All summer, Frances has spent the first half of her day in the Chapel, swinging a hammer, hanging boards on the ceiling, cutting wood; anything and everything to help build our church.
Then, come the afternoon, she jumps in on various projects around Camp, provides counselor coverage, and of course takes part in our amazing evening programs. With her kindness and joy spreading throughout Camp, her evenings are likewise spent building up the church.
“Camp is a large part of why I’m Catholic and the Chapel is really central to the Catholic experience at Camp Gray,” Frances told us.
From the first experience she had here as a camper, Frances was deeply impacted by the joy and faith of the staff. Those early experiences planted a desire to learn more about the faith and to grow in holiness.
Before long, Thanks to Frances and the crew at Bachmann, the Chapel will be able to welcome twice as many people, and we pray it will impact young people the same way it did for Frances.
We’re oh-so-grateful for Frances’ “yes” to the invitation of the Lord to spend the summer with us, rebuilding our Church.
The Dedication of the expanded St. Francis of Assisi Chapel happened on October 2nd and was a glorious day. A packed house prayed for the mission of Camp Gray to continue to be fruitful and the Chapel is now ready to welcome summer campers and retreatants alike. If you would like to support the mission of Camp Gray, visit campgray.com/donate.