There wasn't an empty seat as everyone gathered in the school
auditorium for 7 a.m. Mass prior to heading to their work
sites Thursday to wrap up their projects. The weeklong
WorkCamp was drawing to a close, and while many campers were
slow-moving before Mass began, they were recharged by the end
- bursting out of the auditorium doors and filling the
hallways with energy.
Wishes for a good day were exchanged over breakfast, and cars
full of workcampers began to file out of the school parking
lot as crews made their way to their work sites. A group of
about 15 people lined the exit lane, swinging hula hoops,
waving pool noodles and tossing bags of candy into the cars
as they passed by.
More than 1,300 people participated in this year's WorkCamp
based at Massaponax High School in Fredericksburg. Kevin
Bohli, director of the Office of Youth Ministry, said the
camp drew 850 young people, 250 adult leaders, 200
contractors and 80 security volunteers.
Every parish holds a training session for their teens,
stakeholders and contractors prior to the week of camp to
familiarize them with the electric tools they will use at
their sites. Miki Escudero, assistant WorkCamp coordinator,
said some parishes build a picnic table and sell it in a
raffle to raise funds to cover their costs of attending the
Crews 24 and 15 repaired a roof at the home of Genevieve
Cannedy in Fredericksburg.
Jack Trimber, a workcamper from Holy Spirit Church in
Annandale, said interacting with her made an impact on him.
"She'll come out and eat with us, and it's really cool to see
who we're helping," he said.
Cannedy said the kids would chat with her about Bible
scripture over lunch on her big picnic table. Even when they
were working on the roof, she said she would hear them
occasionally call out, "Timeout for praise out," and the crew
would momentarily stop working to say a prayer.
"They are very friendly, bubbly and cheerful," Cannedy said.
"There doesn't seem to be a lazy one in the bunch."
Alyssa Naupari, first-time workcamper from Our Lady of Angels
Church in Woodbridge, said the experience has made her think
about God's love and mercy. "I've never really gotten to
contemplate that and witness it, but this year I did, seeing
all these teens here," she said.
Several workcampers said the best part of the week was
eucharistic adoration Tuesday evening.
"Adoration was my favorite moment, it was a really peaceful
time," Naupari said.
Peter Lucas from St. Louis Church in Alexandria agreed. "I
really had an awesome time during adoration," he said. "I got
to go to confession and experience the mercy of the Lord."
Another common sentiment among workcampers was that the week
helped to strengthen their faith, which for some, had been
"It's been quite a turnaround, because for a while, I stopped
praying," Lucas said. "I had fallen off. But this week has
really gotten me back on the path toward daily praying."
Crews 132 and 109 built two decks at a home in Spotsylvania.
The father-and-son contractor team who managed the work site
seemed to enjoy the week as much as the campers. Mike Riley
Sr. traveled from South Carolina to join his son and
grandchildren to make WorkCamp a family bonding activity.
"For me it was a great opportunity to be with my family, and
a great way to help serve God and people in need here in
Spotsylvania," Mike Sr. said.
Mike Riley Jr., a parishioner of St. Ambrose Church in
Annandale, said he enjoyed guiding the campers through the
journey of accomplishing something they had never done
"My goal is to make sure that the kids understand how to
build something," Mike Jr. said. "By the end of the week,
they've accomplished a really large project that they didn't
think they could do at the beginning."
He said the week is an opportunity to use the "gifts and
talents that God has given us" to help other people. "That's
exactly what this whole WorkCamp experience is about."
Niamh Lowry, crew 132 leader and parish stakeholder for St.
Leo the Great Church in Fairfax, said WorkCamp has a profound
impact on everyone involved - not just the campers. "It's a
wonderful experience for the adults, for the volunteers, for
the teens," she said. "It is a growth experience for all.
It's very fulfilling and it brings everybody closer to God."
Husar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org