130 Attend FSSP Nashua’s Family Camp

During the summer months, families often take advantage of the long, warm days and the kids’ time off school to take a much-needed vacation together, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But sometimes on vacation, when we are outside our normal schedule and traveling away from our home parish, it can be difficult to keep up our daily spiritual life, and rest for the body can sometimes mean extra stress for the soul. But what if there was a vacation that incorporated both physical rest and spiritual growth?

St. Stanislaus Parish, our apostolate in Nashua, New Hampshire, tackled the challenge with resounding success this past August. The parish hosted its inaugural Family Camp, a week-long event that took place on the grounds of Camp Fatima, a spectacular facility owned by the Diocese of Manchester and situated on Upper Suncook Lake in the beautiful hills of central New Hampshire. The Family Camp offered a full schedule of events designed to rejuvenate both body and soul and to give families a chance to have fun and to grow together spiritually. To learn more, we talked to Fr. James Smith, assistant pastor of FSSP Atlanta, who formerly served as assistant at St. Stanislaus and was the primary mover behind the Family Camp.

Fr. Smith drew inspiration from a similar camp run by Holy Family Parish, our apostolate in Vancouver, British Columbia, where Fr. Smith served while in seminary. The East Coast edition took place from August 19th – 25th, with each day divided into a schedule that included Mass, the Rosary, the Divine Office, organized activities such as rockclimbing and archery and plenty of free time to go swimming or exploring. Bonfires were held in the evening, complete with spiritual talks, and Wednesday featured a big hike up Mount Major, a special dinner and a talent show. All activities were optional except for meals, and that only because of the cost of food: all meals were included in each family’s registration fee along with accommodations in a private cabin.

If it sounds like a dream vacation for a family, the popularity of the event among the parishioners of St. Stanislaus certainly supports that description. 22 families attended, about 130 people altogether, and most said in a post-camp survey that they would return again. The cost of registration was incredibly low due to the nature of the venue: in keeping with the constitutions of Camp Fatima, the Diocese does not charge St. Stanislaus a cent to use it. Vacations can be expensive, especially for families with several children, and so the Camp offered an affordable option. The fee was just $50 per person over two (no fee for children under two), with a $400 maximum per family. And where there was need, generosity abounded: parishioners donated $1,550 to send families that could not afford it and to reduce the overall cost of the camp.

Fr. Smith’s hope is that these camps can become a more common thing throughout the North American District, with apostolates in the same geographic regions teaming up to build and grow the camps. We certainly share that hope, and with such a turnout as St. Stanislaus saw this year, it seems that such a hope is well-founded. +

September 28, 2018