Students at the Notre Dame Mission and Catholic Church summer camp in Fort Pierce receive communion at the camp's closing Mass on Aug 4th. Mass was celebrated by Father Yves Geffrard and Bishop Gerlad M. Barbarito. (ALEEN STANTON-FC)

Camp staff inspire hope, faith of youths

Fort Pierce  |  The words faith, love, peace, joy and forgiveness were at the center of this year’s camp theme at Notre Dame Mission and Catholic Church in Fort Pierce. The camp, which serves a predominantly Haitian Catholic community in Fort Pierce, welcomed more than 70 students from June 17 to Aug. 4.

“We started the summer camp to keep the children focused not only on social things, but on spiritual things as well,” said Father Yves Geffrard, pastor of Notre Dame Mission and Catholic Church. “They are on school vacation and don’t have a place to go, so we try to get them involved in the church. We want to keep them out of trouble and away from harmful influences. Maybe a seed will be planted for Catholicism or for a vocation to the priesthood.”

The summer camp program is centered on the values of Christian morality, love and positive community examples. Myrline Acidor, youth program coordinator and director of the summer camp program said, “Our mission is to give the children hope and faith through learning to love one another. We teach them about mercy and forgiveness.”

Children from age 6 to 17 participated in the summer program. Many of the campers are from families with parents who work fulltime and are in need of childcare during the summer vacation. Arts and crafts, field trip activities and relationship building games keep the students engaged throughout the two-month camp from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Professionals offered learning opportunities such as swim lessons and health and nutrition classes. The summer camp also included spiritual activities such as Bible studies and opportunities for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Mass was held regularly, in which campers participated as lectors and choir members. 

Diana Bonhomme, a camper at Notre Dame Mission and Catholic Church summer camp, said, “The camp has inspired me to become a better person and to help others.”

“The camp gives me hope and to look to God to be whatever I want to be, like an actor or dancer,” said 13-year-old Anderse Charles. 

“It was spiritual and educational and fun,” said 10-year-old Michelle Charles.

To conclude the camp’s activities, the campers enjoyed a final field trip to Universal’s Volcano Bay in Orlando. Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito concelebrated Mass with Father Geffrard Aug. 4, to begin the start of the school year with a special blessing and rejoicing in God’s grace.