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Campers, staff perfect skills and faith at SASH Camp in Winchester

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Outside on the front lawn of Sacred Heart Academy in Winchester, children created a makeshift water filtration system out of rocks, grass, dirty water and plastic bottles, while inside, children donned masks and ran lines for “Beauty and the Beast.”


Down the hall, students learned about air and space, fingerprinting, and cheerleading. Some learned digital sculpting and others attended vacation Bible school.

Though the school year ended a month ago, the learning never stopped for children who are participating in the first SASH — Summer at Sacred Heart — camp. The camps, which began June 24, run through Aug. 23 include before and after care. The camp is modeled after a program at St. John Francis Regis Church in Hollywood, Md.

More than 300 youths ages 3-14 registered for more than 69 weekly summer camps.

During the fourth week, nearly 150 students were registered. They learned from 33 instructors.

SASH Assistant Director Chris Ricketts said the program is running well, and while they tried to plan for everything, they are flexible and able to adjust to changes.

“The young adults are growing into their leadership roles,” he said. “The program is meant to provide good camps for children, but also to evangelize and work with the older kids because that’s one of the biggest groups of people leaving the church these days.”

SASH is not only educational for students — there is a spiritual component for the instructors. Their day starts at 8:15 a.m. with Mass, and after lunch there’s a theology talk by local speakers throughout the summer.

The camps vary each week. Samantha Libasci taught survival skills during week four. Campers now know how to filter water if they find themselves lost in the woods. After Libasci teaches the skills, she has an opportunity to learn.

“I’ve never had the opportunity for daily Mass and adoration,” she said. “It’s cool to experience. I’ve noticed already that my faith and relationship with God has gotten so much stronger.”

Lucy Stanford taught drama camp during week four, writing an adapted “Beauty and the Beast” script, helping the campers create costumes and run their lines for a performance at the end of the week. Stanford said she thought of her job as mission work. “It’s something I can do as a mission but also to grow as a person,” she said.

Guest speakers, including Frederick County Sherriff’s Deputy Corey Garrison, a school resource officer, brought different perspectives. He taught one class about fingerprints. “They are learning how we take fingerprints of people on paper, the types of fingerprints and the way we use them to identify people,” he said. “It’s important to teach about this — they should know part of our job. A lot of our job for so long has been a secret, with no knowledge of what and how things are done or why in a certain way.”

Ricketts said the camp had a strong start in its first year. “We are excited about the good start and we’re looking to only go up from here,” he said. 

Father Bjorn C. Lundberg, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Winchester, said part of the goal of the camp was to help form the students to take the lead. “They have completely stepped up and you see them building friendships between them,” he said.

Director Susan Netko said SASH is “a wonderful way to evangelize the young people and our families.”

“It has been a privilege and honor to initiate the program at Sacred Heart,” she said. “I am happy to work with any parish that might want to start this program, which is an opportunity for evangelization.” 

Find out more

Go to sashcamp.org or contact Susan Netko at 540/336-7119 or Chris Ricketts at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Winchester at 540/808-2736. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019