By DAVID MYERS
Southwest Kansas Register
Four local seventh and eighth grade boys were among 68 boys from a five-state region who attended “Companion Camp, 2010” at Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo., a three-day camp experience during which they learned that seminary life isn’t all prayer and study.
Granted, potato sack races and tug-of-wars aren’t a daily occurrence in seminary, but these were 6th through 8th graders, and organizers saw fit to infuse more than a bit of fun into the Spirit-filled three-day experience.
The local boys attending the camp were Dodge City residents Michael Zuniga, Ivan Chavez, and Omar Ruiz, and Larned resident Patrick Liston.
Under the theme of “Faith, Fun, Fellowship,” the 68 campers were divided into eight teams led by seminarians and monks. The four teens from the Diocese of Dodge City teamed up with boys from Iowa.
Activities and competitions included dodgeball, fishing, water-balloon toss, an obstacle course, ping-pong, checkers, among others.
Amid the more sporting interaction with the seminarians and monks were many spiritual activities, as well. The group was able to take part in prayer services, attend Mass, and listen to inspirational talks.
Leading the local group was Norma Alvarez, Director of Religious Education at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Becky Hessman, Diocesan Coordinator of Vocations.
Dodge City resident Michael Zuniga, 13, commented, “Oh, yeah. It was a lot of fun -- all the activities they had us do. There were a lot of games. We learned a lot from the seminarians and the monks. They were really nice.
“We attended Mass on Saturday and Sunday and went to vespers. I like how the monks sang together. They had a really good choir.”
Patrick Liston of Larned Middle School said that he “loved the way they pray, it’s so beautiful how they do it.”
When asked what it was like interacting with the seminarians and monks, he responded, “They were amazing; they’re different than what I thought they would be. I thought they were old, but there were young ones too. And they’re fun; they joined us with the games.”
What did he enjoy most about his time at camp? “Getting to know more about monks and their way of life. And meeting new friends.”
“We had a great group of boys representing our diocese,” Hessman said.
“I told [camp director, Brother Paul Sheller, OSB] that it was the first time in my life that I ever considered how much fun it must be, being a boy,” Hessman said with a laugh. “When it was time for us to leave Conception, the boys wanted to stay one more day. They had a great time and so did Norma and I.”