By: Jeff Hoeben

Camp Gray is a place where campers and staff alike come to experience awe and wonder in all that the Creator does, and has done for us. The summer of 2020 did not begin like anyone could’ve ever imagined. Our mission of providing an encounter in a faith filled, vibrant community seemed to be next to impossible given the regulations set in place by the government and the American Camp Association. We made the tough decision to put our normally scheduled summer program on hold. We did this while at the same time, putting our trust in the Lord that he would provide new opportunities for Camp Gray. He has not disappointed us, as the Lord provided a new and special way to spread the Gospel message this summer. 

Two priests have parked their black vehicles outside the health center where the camp nurse would be parked on a typical summer day. Both are broadcasting positive, truthful messages for all the world to see from their licence plates. One proclaims, “GODLVSYA” and the other calls to attention Our Lady by simply naming her, “BVMARY.”

Fr. Luke and Fr. Matt, the formators for the 12 seminarians calling CG home for two months this summer are currently living in the Health Center. When their plans to spend the summer at the Omaha Institute for Priestly Formation were thwarted they found their way to Camp Gray.  

Plans of sharing the Gospel with over 1,300 youth in a vibrant, Catholic community were thwarted too, but God provides. Tim Chaptman, Camp Gray Camp Director, says it best, “Camp is better with people.” Yes, we are saddened that the youth of our diocese (and beyond) this summer cannot experience camp, but we are so glad that God provided a home for these seminarians. They are here for what they are calling a spirituality summer. Just as many of our campers may call it a spirituality week during a “normal” year, they are here to grow and discover God more fully.

For those of us at Camp, it means Mass is offered daily. It is a gift to have added time for prayer during this abnormal summer. The sound of basketballs bouncing and laughing can be heard across the basketball court as an audible reminder of the joyful noise that is synonymous with a summer at camp. 

Classes are offered for the guys each day, and the line of study last week was from Dietrich Von Hildebrand, a 20th century Catholic philosopher. Imagine 12 guys in a room talking about the affectivity of the heart. Von Hildebrand calls us to give proper attention to the stirrings of the heart. We must be in tune to the object of our feelings and this attention allows us to be in closer union with our Lord. 

Camp Gray once again continues to play a necessary role in formation of souls. These men have come to grow closer in community with one another, and to grow closer to the Lord.  People are still discovering Christ in a more intimate way by spending time in this wonderful place. Please know that our mission has not changed. It has taken on a new look temporarily.  

Camp Gray has also opened its grounds to families to come and enjoy the fresh air and God’s beauty on a sign-up basis. Hopefully, these opportunities will continue throughout the summer. Please check our website for more details. In the meantime, look for the areas where God has provided for you in your life and take a moment to offer gratitude. Thanks for reading everyone. Make it a great day!

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