St. John Bosco was a living manifestation of God’s paternal love. Though this is true of every saint, it was the fatherly character of God’s love that shone forth so particularly in St. John Bosco. This is because he himself experienced this love. Having received love, a saint is free to share that love with others. According to temperament, time, and place, God calls each saint to a particular mission. According to their charism and the opportunities God gives them, saints dedicate themselves to tending the flock entrusted to them with supernatural zeal.
Zeal for the spiritual well-being of the young was St. John Bosco’s special charism, expressed by his motto: “Da mihi animas, cetera tolle.” “Give me souls, take all else away.” He himself catechized and directed many young people, striving to direct them towards Christ. He founded a religious order dedicated to this end and today by his patronage he inspires others to continue this work.
Until his death on January 31st, 1888 St. John Bosco dedicated himself especially to the education of young boys, knowing the need for guidance to navigate the difficulties of life with prudence and joy. As a priest he played games with the boys, studied with them, heard their confessions, and juggled for them. He lived a life full of paternal direction and encouragement. He was passionate about the truths of the faith, the power of the sacraments, and the need for a deep spiritual life even in the young.
Never content with the boys merely wanting to please him, St. John Bosco strove to center them on the love and honor of Christ. He told them: "My dear sons, assist at Mass as true and devout Christians, with such modesty and recollection that nothing may distract you. Let your mind and heart be intent solely on honoring God.”
Adolescence is a very special phase in the development of a young man. As he grows up he learns about his own strengths and weaknesses and learns how to live well in a fallen world. For some, this can take a long time; some never make it. For a lucky few, however, they are led to adulthood by the example of good parents, friends, and mentors. These lucky few are indeed lucky, for the job of parenting and mentorship of the youth is often neglected for the sake of a career or some other self-centered personal goal. Yet, though a difficult time, it is one to be filled with happiness, love, and good memories; a time to be enjoyed.
Raising a boy into a man is more a job of preparation than one of protection, and the best preparation for how to face the darkness of sin is to gleam with the joyful light of Christ. St. John Bosco Camps and the priest and seminarian volunteers are here to help this happen.
Saint John Bosco Camps (SJBC) is a non-profit organization founded in 2020 with the desire to imitate St. John Bosco in this work: to help form in young people the virtues they need to become strong and mature Christian men, to provide a positive experience of the Church and its teachings through joy-filled interactions with the clergy. In this way their hearts too will be intent solely on honoring God.
Founded to continue the work begun in in 1998, Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary (FSSP), SJBC has teamed up with seminarians from Our Lady of Guadalupe to make this desire a reality.
Simply put, the mission for SJBC is the same as that of St. John Bosco himself: to give souls an experience of the truth that to be completely Catholic is also to be truly joyful.
As St. John Bosco did this in his way, SJBC strives to accomplish this goal in its own: by running wilderness camps that give the youth a chance to encounter God in His clergy, His Church, and each other in the beautiful setting of His majestic creation. Our youth do not only need to be taught the Truth of Jesus Christ, but also they need to love it. To achieve this it is not sufficient only to know the truth, but it is also necessary also to see it as beautiful so as to be moved by desire towards what is good. SJBC seeks to help young people to love the truth.
A camp is an ideal setting to accomplish this goal. Bringing a boy out of his familiar and comfortable surroundings, and into the challenging atmosphere of nature, is a tried and true strategy for preparing him for manhood. In our camps, a boy must face the realities of nature: rain, cold, and fatigue. He learns quickly the importance of following instructions, helping out his team, keeping his gear organized, and having good morale. He is challenged in many areas, physically, socially, intellectually, and spiritually. The boys play sports and go on hikes; they are organized into teams in which they must work together; they are taught lessons in virtue and in the Faith; they attend Mass and pray the rosary daily. On these camps they confess to and play soccer with the Chaplain, hike with the seminarians, do push-ups and eat s'mores. They make new friends, grow in their faith and (we hope and pray) go home more Christ-like than they came. The seminarians also share their own stories of living the Faith, discerning a vocation and life experience. Every year camp presents many challenges, and while often hesitant in the beginning, by the end of camp, the boys have learned how to positively respond to these challenges and successfully overcome them. When they leave camp, they leave as stronger and more mature Christian men, better prepared to face the many challenges of life with joyful confidence.
The church extolls St. John Bosco for accomplishing the work of sanctifying the youth. He is our patron because of his exemplary dedication to that end.
Taken from his Mass
O God, Who in Your Confessor, blessed John, raised up a father and teacher of youth, and willed that through him, with the help of the Virgin Mary, new religious families should bloom in the Church, grant, we beseech You, that, inflamed by the same fire of love, we may seek to win souls and to serve You alone. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
© 2023 St. John Bosco Camps, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.