Chris and John (10) have returned from Montfort Boys' Camp in New Hampshire, a week of wholesome outdoor activities in a traditional Catholic environment, as run by the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Brothers.
- Click here for a camp video from 2016.
- Click here for a camp video from 2014.
- Click here for a camp video from 2013.
The camp is for boys 9-13, although out-of-state boys need to be 10 and (at least the first year?) have a parent chaperone present. It was quite a gift to John for his Daddy to take off a week from work and drive 900 miles each way and for his Mama to run the home alone for 11 days with four children at 34 weeks pregnant.
|Labeling all of John's clothing|
|Packing John's belongings|
|Daddy and son getting on the road at six in the morning|
The drive up took two days. They arrived late at camp after a Gilligan's Island type of "three hours' tour" being lost in the woods, but all was well!
|Arriving with a dirty car--dressed for the opening Mass they missed|
Campers participate in the following activities…
Daily Religious instruction • Latin Tridentine Mass • Camping in 8-man cabins • Daily inspections • Sailboating • Hiking • Swimming • Arts and Crafts • Canoeing • Boxing • Fishing • Archery • Sports • Campfires • Achievement & Good Conduct Awards • Guest speakers …and more!
Chris was on kitchen staff which was basically a full-time job. Being on the go from 6:00 a.m. till 11:00 p.m., most of it standing on his feet working, was no vacation for Daddy--but it was still fun and in good company of men!
Camp was increased from a cap of 75 to 100 boys this year.
|John is front and center in this photo; Chris is in the rear row, slightly right of center.|
Each day began with the bugle at 7:00 followed by attendance at the traditional Latin Mass, roll call, and a morning jog before attending breakfast at 9:00. I think there is much to be learned in that routine, and this Mama ponders how to implement some of that order and priorities in our homeschool routine. Yet, we have littles (who need food sooner) and our attending a daily Mass (when a TLM is available here) would cut way into our school day due to timing. And how do we fit in morning exercise (so salutary!) when the children wake at varying times? And how does Mama exercise when I need to be alone to do so (meaning, I do it before they are awake)?
|Roll call by squads|
|Morning jog before breakfast|
Meals were served only three times per day and more widely spaced than here at home: plus, no snacking. I think this is probably really good for these older boys and causes kids to come to the table a lot more willing to eat. Again, how to implement the good aspect of this routine when we have littles at home (as well as a pregnant/nursing mama) who actually do need to eat every two hours?
Outside of meals, the days were broken into three segments of outdoor activities: a morning session, an afternoon session, an evening session. On the first day, the children were required to receive training at each station so they'd know what to do there (although the stations were, of course, still manned by the brothers at all times). Then the boys had choice about what they wanted to do with their time. John said he enjoyed rifle shooting and fishing the most and he never did make time to participate in sail boating or archery.
At the end of the week, John took first place in rifle-shooting in the 9- to 10-year-old age bracket, which translated to third place in the entire camp (ages 9-13). Pretty good for never before having shot a 22-rifle!
The rifle range was run by a former Army Ranger and Chris attests that the safety training was on par with what the NRA teaches in its classes.
|Other boys checking out the targets|
I think John enjoyed fishing the most, and that was a new activity for him, not something we've done at home. Over the week, he caught four fish, at least two of them 14" long. We can tell that John greatly admired Brother Peter Mary, who ran the fishing activities.
|Yes, there was a scolding from Mama|
regarding this open, useless life vest.
One afternoon, the boys broke into two squads, hiked about 90 minutes on separate trails up the mountain (with "MRE" brown bag lunches in tow), then met at the top for an epic Super Soaker battle. Unbeknownst to the boys, the adult staff had secretly driven up there and leapt out from hiding places with their own Super Soaker guns in a surprise attack: so much fun! Afterward, they all enjoyed a special dessert.
There were organized games, like tug-of-war and relay races.
John reports to me that he enjoyed the canoes for fishing, but otherwise preferred kayaking.
In the evenings, the boys prayed the Rosary and participated in Benediction in the chapel.
|Heading into the chapel in the evening|
Sometimes the priest spoke on catechism or other topics.
|The priest in residence|
|Boys in grey tee-shirts, Brothers in black cassocks|
The drive home took three more nights, instead of two, due to a blown tire and the difficulty of replacing it and getting the right tires in stock.
I'm sure I'll be hearing many more tales of adventure in the days to come: I can hardly wait! For a homeschooling mother who has rarely done drop-off activities (e.g., sports, classes, parties, anything), and who already felt discombobulated dropping off her two oldest at musical rehearsals for three hours each week (with no parent), being incommunicado with my boy 900 miles away from me for a week and a half was bizarre, but maybe also resulted in some good growth as well.
John is already counting on going to Montfort again next year (and every year) despite our reminding him that our family has to make this decision one year at a time. He loved every minute of it and I'm really interested and excited to witness how we hope he's come back a more mature, grown-up boy.