A Community Fueled by Grace
Four years ago my dad retired after 30 years of being a cabinet maker. He said to me “I’d love to move up to the woods and be a handyman somewhere.” I told him that I didn’t think “handyman” was a real thing and that there aren’t very many job opportunities in the woods these days.
Around that same time I was also looking for a change. I told a friend that I was thinking about looking for a different job and she said “you should pray about it.” I told her that I didn’t think Jesus had time to be my career counselor but then said ‘okay… Dear Jesus please find me a totally awesome camp job. Sincerely Natalie.’”
The next day (literally the next day) I opened a job website and saw an opening for the Catholic Youth Camp Program Director. I laughed and then quickly shut the ad saying out loud “NO!” Because that’s not how prayer works-you don’t ask for things and then get them especially when your prayer was sarcastic and slightly disrespectful.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about the job and eventually applied and was hired. And then shortly after I began working for CYC the Executive Director at the time said “ya know what we really need is a handy man- someone to live at camp and take care of things.”
For the past four years my dad and I have been working together. Different prayers answered by the same little camp. They say that “things happen for a reason” or “there is a greater plan to life” or “God works in mysterious ways.” All of those phrases and the examples I gave more simply stated are grace. The Catholic encyclopedia says that “grace is favor the free undeserved help that God gives us to respond to His call to become children of God.” Grace is God’s love in action.
In the four years that we’ve been at CYC both my dad and I have experienced so many moments of grace we regularly looked at each other shake our heads and say “there’s something about this place.”
As many of you know my dad passed away on November 25. It’s been difficult both personally to lose my dad but also difficult in my professional life to lose my co-worker. He was a valuable member of the CYC staff and he accomplished a great deal during the four years he worked at camp. He left his mark around camp with all the things he built and he will live on in our memories and in our hearts.
I can’t say thank you enough for the unyielding support and kindness I have received from the CYC community. Thank you to everyone who attended his funeral send cards and emails and for the flood of prayers that you’ve sent my way. It means so much to me to receive so much kindness and I’m not sure there is a way to ever truly express my appreciation for all of you.
The CYC community has experienced many losses this year. In December of last year many of us came together to mourn the passing of counselor Justin Giles. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and the strength of our community at such a difficult time. Several camper families have also experienced losses of family members this year and with news of each tragedy I’ve been touched to watch our community come together offering kindness prayers and support to one another.
Catholic Youth Camp is more than just a week of fun it is a community. Being part of that community “the CYC family” means enjoying fun summertime experiences but it also means coming together to offer support and prayers to one another at difficult times.
It is difficult to hear about one of our campers losing a parent or a sibling and each time I have received such news I find myself thinking “no no no! Camp is supposed to be about s’mores sunshine songs and laughter. Camp is the happiest place on earth. We are not supposed to be dealing with death and sadness.” But sometimes sadness is part of life and I am happy that this community is able to come together for all parts of life- the fun stuff and the tough stuff.
CYC is a community that is fueled by grace and bound together by a shared faith. It is these qualities that make Catholic Youth Camp an amazing place a community and makes you say “there’s just something about that place!”
Thank you for being part of our community.