By Sister Wanda Jinks, OP
At the heart of all ministry, what is most important is RELATIONSHIP…
In this day and age, many congregations are paying special attention to creating relationships that allow others to share in our Dominican way of life. Many of us have created programs for the Dominican laity, Dominican Young Adults or College Preachers, and even High School preachers. And we do this WHY? In order to share and nurture the seeds of our charism—mainly through the four pillars. While the Dominican Sisters of Houston are actively involved in sowing seeds within the above mentioned groups, for the past nine years, they have been including one more age group: the pre-teen / middle school girls. And how do we do this? We invite them to a week of summer camp at Circle Lake.
Using the pillars of prayer, study, community and service, the sisters have organized an annual summer camp that provides an opportunity for young girls ages 10 through 14 years to share a week of summer fun. During this experience, deep in the piney woods of east Texas, the girls have a chance to get to know the sisters while engaging in fun activities as well as prayer, learning, community building, and growing in appreciation of caring for and helping others.
As we all know, ministry is never done in isolation—it takes many hands to do the work of our Dominican life. That is why the camp is staffed not only by sisters, but also by members of the Dominican Family, their Partners in Preaching, and friends. Young women from St. Pius X High School served as counselors. Together, everyone shares the work of caring for and teaching the campers.
For a week in mid-July, 28 girls enjoyed learning the core values of our Dominican life through a variety of activities such as Morning Prayer, Archery, challenging Initiative Games, Swimming, Baking, Arts and Crafts, Guitar Lessons, Singing, Wood Carving, Skit Night, Movie Night, Dancing, and much more.
Reading the campers’ closing comments, we learned several things. First of all, the campers “had a blast!” and many of them want to return next year. Secondly, many of the girls had never experienced being around sisters, and really didn’t know what to expect. It was refreshing to read how much they enjoyed sharing the week with the sisters and learning more about Dominicans. The “Nun Run” activity, where the girls learned about the sisters on staff, was a great hit! Thirdly, it warmed the heart to know that some of the campers were so inspired by their Dominican high school counselors that they, too, want to come back in a few years to be camp counselors themselves. It’s quite a tribute to the Dominican education these high school students have received, and to how they are already preaching with their lives!
Visit the official camp web site to enjoy more photos and videos from the Houston Dominican Sisters Summer Camp 2011, including photos and bios of the sisters and others who run the camp.
Sister Wanda is a certified instructor at the camp. During the school year, she is a special education teacher with the Houston Idependent School Disctrict.