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Campout brings together one big happy Scouting family

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The last time Nathan Rook tried to go camping, he didn’t last very long. “I have camped for like five minutes (out in my backyard),” the 6-year-old happily admitted. “But then I got so scared.” This time, his father, Michael, believes will be different. Nathan was with his family, his Trail Life Troop and hundreds of other Scouts attending the diocesan Catholic Campout at Camp Snyder in Haymarket April 5-7. 

Eric Buschelman (left) helps James Feeley, a Cub Scout from a pack based at Holy Spirit Church in Annandale, launch a model rocket. ZOEY MARAIST  |  CATHOLIC HERALD


About 465 participants came to the event, sponsored by the Office of Youth, Campus, and Young Adult Ministries.  “Usually what we did in the past, we’d just come to the (annual Mass for Scouts), which is fantastic. This ends up making it more of a 48-hour extravaganza,” said Mark Kramer, chair of the diocesan committee on Scouting and a leader of the Cub Scout Pack at the Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria. “(We took) the different youth groupings and brought them all together in this big campsite. It's been phenomenal.”

“The Catholic Committee on Scouting for the diocese exists to help all Catholic youth, no matter which adventure organization they belong to, with opportunities like this one to gather and learn more about their faith,” said Kevin Bohli, executive director of the youth office. 

Scouts and their families spent Saturday soaking up the spring sunshine with a host of outdoor activities — rock climbing, archery, fishing, model rocket launching and gaga ball, a tamer form of dodgeball. There also were saint-themed crafts and scavenger hunt, an outdoor rosary and confession. Several Boy Scouts led Stations of the Cross Friday. Of all the activities, Esther Cameron, a fifth-grader and American Heritage Girl from St. Leo the Great Church in Fairfax, most enjoyed tie-dying a shirt teal and spotting a bunch of baby frogs with her dad. 


Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated a vigil Mass for the campout. While preaching on Jesus and the woman caught in adultery, Bishop Burbidge said, “(The woman) was treated by others as an outcast, one who did not belong in the inner circle of God’s family because she failed. But that’s not the way Jesus responded to her. Jesus did not judge her — he showed compassion. Jesus did not give up on her — he showed confidence in her and her potential. Jesus did not allow her to stay where she was. Out of love, he challenged her.

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Abigail Smith, 7, an American Heritage Girl from Sacred Heart Church in Manassas, triumphantly returns to the ground after scaling the rock-climbing wall. ZOEY MARAIST  |  CATHOLIC HERALD

“All that God asks is that we go forth and treat each other the same way,” he said. At the close of the Mass, Bishop Burbidge blessed the religious emblems many Scouts had earned throughout the year. 

Phil Coady, a parent and leader in Nathan’s Trail Life troop, hopes the campout is here to stay. (The boys) have been talking about it for weeks now. Wonderful activities, great time, beautiful weather, and having confession in the middle of it was a nice bonus,” said Coady. 

He loves being able to integrate faith into the troop’s activities. “I’ve got four boys. I grew up spending time outside and I always found God in nature. I love the ability to show that to my boys, and they clue onto that so quickly.”


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019