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  • You never forget the sandwiches

    It’s been about 10 years since I was a teen participant of the Diocese of Arlington’s annual WorkCamp. I can still remember the thirst-inducing PB&J sandwiches, coated with peanut butter on both sides so the jelly wouldn’t bleed through. 

    I still remember waiting an hour in line for a shower, only to have one of the mom volunteers tell me to hurry as I quickly rinsed shampoo from my hair. 

    I remember darting up from my sleeping bag when the early morning alarm clock rang — Christian pop music blared over the loudspeaker — so that I could get a good spot in the line for the bathroom.

    People not from Arlington get curious and a little concerned when you mention sending young people to an event called WorkCamp. (Why they changed from the original name — Hammer Time — I’ll never know.) There’s certainly an element of deprivation and labor involved in the experience, but as with any discomfort, it is an opportunity for growth, spiritual and otherwise.

    I met people from around the diocese, some I still know. I listened to Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist Clare Hunter speak about vocations, and years later worked with her. I experienced Eucharistic adoration for one of the first times. I was enriched by the nightly talks and small groups. I still remember one of the speakers who applied a Taylor Swift lyric to God’s Divine plan, saying, “It’s a love story, baby just say yes.”

    I was exposed to poverty and people who needed help. I sawed, I caulked, I painted, I measured. And I was exhausted. 

    WorkCamp is an amazing program, and something the whole diocese should be proud of. If you’re going for the first time this year, you’re sure to walk away with memories of more than just the sandwiches.


    © Arlington Catholic Herald 2021

    @Zoey Maraist