High School Camp Gray Adventure Day: Fall 2014 Recap

Quote Lake SunsetThanks to all the folks who came out to join us at Adventure Day on September 6th at Camp Gray. It was a beautiful day, and we’re here today to share more about it with you! First up, take a look at this rockin’ video of all the fun we had!

If you want the full story behind what you’ve seen, we’d suggest you reading this stellar recap of the day from Sara, the LBH Intern.

Adventure Book Pic

As much as we want to know our Heavenly Father, He wants to be known even more. With this understanding that He is constantly trying to reveal himself to us through the many gifts He has bestowed on us, the Love Begins Here and Camp Gray communities joined together to go on an epic adventure to explore our Father’s infinite love by encountering Him in His great outdoors. While rock climbing, kayaking, fire building, fishing, and praying together in the company of vibrant sons and daughters of Christ, we caught a genuine glimpse of what the Lord meant when He said, “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.”

Throughout the day we talked about our Lord’s all-consuming desire to take us on the most exciting journey on earth as He leads us to our final destination in Heaven. These conversations were a perfect reminder that these beautiful experiences we share together amongst authentic friends are just a fraction of what He has in store for us tomorrow, next week, and the rest of our lives.

Adventure Day 1 Blog

For the teens that stayed overnight, we wrapped up the weekend by participating in the celebration of Mass, followed by a solo hike. It was here that we reflected on the ways we were going to continue to pursue a relationship with Jesus on a day to day basis and thus allow Him to transform our hearts.

Words of praise and thanksgiving offered to our Father did not even seem to suffice for the gift of such a perfect weekend to wrap up the summer and send us off with a heavenly vigor for the new experiences to be had this upcoming year. If this Adventure Day was just a glimpse of His glory, just imagine what He desires to share with us the more we desire to encounter Him!

Adventure Day 2 Blog

“Heavenly Father,
Give me the courage to strive for the highest goals,
to flee every temptation to be mediocre.
Enable me to aspire to greatness, as Pier Giorgio did,
and to open my heart with joy to Your call to holiness.
Free me from the fear of failure.
I want to be, Lord, firmly and forever united to You.
Grant me the graces I ask You through Pier Giorgio’s intercession,
by the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us!

Again, we’d encourage you to SAVE THE DATE for the Middle School Adventure Day at Camp Gray, which will take place on May 2nd!

Survey Says!

Survey Says

All of the Youth Ministers and others who work with the Middle and High School youth in our Parishes were asked over the past couple of weeks to take an online survey about a couple of new day retreats/rallies that we want to offer in collaboration with Camp Gray! It’s an exciting time (and idea!), but before we dived into the planning and work on such events, it was important to us to gather this feedback. We had 42 folks take the survey, and we’re ready to share with you the results. Of course, nothing is set and stone and the results of this survey will not magically result in new and beautiful programming (without hard work, of course!), but we’ll do our best to provide for what you need!


The first thing we asked about was if the parishes are interested in new programming for Middle School students, High School students or both Middle and High School students. The overwhelming response that was we need more for all of our youth!

Saturday Sunday

We’re not sure we could have asked a more controversial question. The response to whether folks wanted Saturday or Sunday events was split right down the middle. (For the solution, we will probably look to Camp’s availability and calendar for some more insight!) Regardless of what direction we take these events, it sounds like we’ll be looking into providing an optional overnight component for adventurous and interested parishes!


The above photo is an indication of the responses we received from the following question: For a day long event (that would provide snacks, lunch, retreat components, Camp Gray fun (potential for canoeing, tower climbing, etc.), music, and local speakers) what do you think of the cost of $45 for the day? (Keep in mind that the cost of a day at Camp Gray summer camp is about $90.) 

Some (8 folks) thought this price was far too much; some (5 folks) thought it was a bargain. The majority agreed it was either spot on or that with opportunities to provide scholarships to kids in need, $45 would be a good price. Going forward, we’ll be running the numbers and finding out how we can maximize the value for the lowest price possible. Stay tuned!

Top Selling Points

It sounds like whatever we do, as long as we keep our Catholic faith at the top of the list, enlist the stellar Camp Gray staff and enthusiastic youth ministers of our Diocese, give the youth an opportunity for classic Camp Gray fun and adventure, and give them a day out in nature with other teens to bond with, we’ll be on the right track. Thanks for all the great ideas about what will sell this new offering to our teens!

Overall, we could not be more thrilled with the response to this survey! Hopefully in the next month or so, we’ll have more details and a clear idea of what these events might look like in the 2014 – 2015 school year. Also, stay tuned for future surveys! This collaboration business is mighty fun.

(Also, in case you’re curious, one interesting piece of information we learned from the survey on the topic of Confirmation is that HALF of the Parishes that responded are either moving to Chosen for their program or already have! That’s great news, especially considering the exciting announcement we made last week.)

John Paul II, we love you.

There are a few things we want to share with you on this spring day!

First up, in case you haven’t seen it, the Love Begins Here promo video launched yesterday. One of the coolest facebook posts we saw in conjunction with a share of it, was the following, by Dan, a former missionary who is in his first year of college.

Words cannot describe the joy and good fruits that so beautifully radiate from Love Begins Here and these people, so I am just going to leave this video here with a piece of advice: do it. You will never regret making that decision to take part in one of the most life changing things I have ever experienced.



Second, we would like for you to save the date of October 19th. At 1:00pm in the afternoon, Chris Stefanick (international Catholic speaker and the brains behind Chosen) will be making a stop in the Diocese of Madison. (St. John the Baptist in Waunakee will host us!) He will speak with teens and parents for a couple hours that afternoon as a part of the Revolution of Love Series that will be coming back for the 2014 – 2015 school year. We will have more information to share later this spring!

Third, congrats to Topher (from Camp Gray!) and Anna (2014 LBH Core Team member) on winning the JP2 Book giveaways last week! They will be in the mail on Friday.

JPII Demanding Love

On the topic of this great to-be saint, we thought that over the next few weeks we could share with you some inspiration and insights from the book. Today’s summary is of chapter 7, on his love for young people. (In case you are curious, chapters 1 – 6 are a biography.)

Blessed John Paul II’s great love for the youth and commitment to them can teach us many things. The following are four lessons we, especially those who work with teens, can learn from him.

1. Be present.
John Paul immersed himself in his interactions with the youth, from his young years as a priest unto his aging years as our Holy Father. An University instructor who spent time with him and the youth on wilderness trips recalled, “He lived and breathed these problems [on their hearts]. And because young people live and breathe love, he lived and breathed these young people’s love.” Not only did he enter into their deepest questions and struggles, he literally made himself available, regularly announcing to the youth where he was staying so they could visit him on his travels. We all have many things fighting for our attention. The fact of the matter is that we must put them down and order our days (and lives) to be available and present to the hearts of our teens.

2. Do not compromise on the truth.
John Paul did not believe in shying away from teaching and preaching the truth. He recognized that the world already sold the youth short, and he did not want to join them in doing so. As Jason writes, “if he had lowered the standard, he’d have missed the chance to invite people to live lives of heroic virtue.” Our young people want the truth and want to be challenged. Be a beacon of light and truth for them, in the midst of this often dark world.

3. Whatever you do, remain authentic.
What John Paul believed and what he said were one in the same. He took his call to witness to his Catholic faith very seriously. He made it known that encountering Christ changes ones life. We are called to that same witness, preaching that we have a “real capacity to become the image of his Son”, rather than believing we are “the sum of our weaknesses and failures.”

4. Make your who life about love.
Here Jason tells a story of the young people on John Paul’s first visit to the USA chanting “John Paul II, we love you!” The Holy Father, so delighted by their excitement and genuine love, responded, “Perhaps, I love you more.” He knew that by loving the young people, he could introduce them to the love that will solve all their problems and answer all of their questions. He called them to live in that love, in true freedom, regardless of how demanding of a task it might seem to be. Taking his witness to heart, we need to be devoted to loving the folks the Lord puts in our lives, so that along they way we can offer them His love.

Canonization Preparation, Bishop Morlino and a Sweet Giveaway!

Today on the blog, we are doing a little round up of some sweet things that have surfaced in the past week!


First up, Tiffany Topel (the super sweet and talented youth minister in Jefferson) was featured on the Lifeteen blog this week! Go read it! Not only does it feature the story of Bishop Morlino’s visit with her Middle School Youth, but she also shares two important things she learned from the visit. Huge thanks to Tiffany for not only her passionate work but sharing her wisdom with folks in the Madison Diocese and far beyond.

Second, Noah is coming out this weekend, and we have collected a number of things to read, if you are thinking about seeing it. The first recommendation would be to read the actual account of Noah and the ark in scripture; start in Genesis 6 and continue through Genesis 9. (A quick, or thorough, reading will tell you that there must be some additions or cinematic choices made to make the story into a feature length film.) There is a thoughtful review on the National Catholic Register that provides some context for the movie and thoughts on the production and retelling of the story. Catholic Online movie reviewer Scot Landry makes a case for 8 Reasons Why Catholics Should See Noah. And, Catholic Vote has a blog post on 100 proudly Catholic films, whether or not you feel like Noah is going to bring you to the theater.


Third, while we’re still in the midst of Lent, let’s not forget to prepare for the great feast of Divine Mercy that is coming our way one month from today! Along with the great feat in the midst of the Easter season, on April 27th of this year, two canonizations will take place, of Blessed Pope John XXIII and Blessed Pope John Paul II. Now is the perfect time to learn about these great saints-to-be. Here are a few suggestions:
– Journal of a Soul: The Autobiography of Pope John XXIII 
– Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves by Jason Evert (Learn about this incredible brand new book here! From there you can download a chapter of it, place a bulk order for them in paperback, pick one up in hardcover, and get the links to buy them on your iPad, Kindle or Nook!)
Pope John XXIII Vatican Webpage
Pope John XXIII Beatification Homily
Pope John Paul II Vatican Webpage
Pope John Paul II Beatification Homily

Fourth, thanks to the great support for the Camp Gray fundraiser at Orange Leaf (the Old Sauk, Middleton location) last night. See the recap from the event on their Twitter account.

Fifth, go Badgers!

Sixth, if you want to win a copy of Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves, you have a chance to do so today! Just leave a comment with your name and Parish. We’ll draw two winners at 10:00am on Monday, March 30th!

Frassati Fest Recap!

Thanks for tuning in to see what this past weekend held for the teens of the Madison Diocese who joined as at Frassati Fest!

First up, the following were the TOP 3 highlights of the weekend, as found on the student evaluations.

1. Confession and Adoration
2. The Dance Party
3. Meeting New Friends and Spending Time with Old Friends

Those definitely speak to how transformative and down right fun the weekend was. Also, during the weekend, social media was all the rage! The following is a small sampling of the Instagram photos that were tagged with #frassatifest. See more here.


Our incredible tech team kept these photos rolling on the screens all weekend, as well as the Tweets about the weekend, which you can see here.

This great weekend would not have been possible without a couple folks, so we wanted to introduce them to you! The first is Pete Burds who took the stage as our keynote speaker. He’s a rock star young adult from the Milwaukee area. By day, he works as the campus minister at St. Thomas More High School; on the nights and weekends, he spends time evangelizing all over the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, loving the Lord and hanging out with his new fiancé Emily (who we were lucky to meet during the weekend). The teens gave him rave reviews on their evaluations after dropping inspiration bombs all weekend long.

Pete Burds Photo - Frassati Fest


The second big group of folks that deserve a shout out would be the members of our Planning Team. They worked hard over the past 7 months to put on an event that would not soon be forgotten, hopefully because it helped to shape and transform many hearts. These teens and adults came from all over the Diocese, and at the big event, they emcee’d, gave testimonies, made friends and welcomed everyone to the event with more JOY than we could have asked for.

Planning Team

To help you take a look at the events of the weekend, below we’ve included the video we showed the teens before the headed home! Enjoy watching.

We are excited to see you all again next year! In the meantime, keep in touch through this blog, as well as our social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)!


Be The One - 4x6, 1The time has come to share the plans for LBH2014. We’ve got an incredible line up of mission trips ready to unveil today. Here’s where we will be calling home this coming summer.

High School 1 – June 15 – 20 (Verona)
High School 2 – July 6 – 11 (Montello)
High School 3 – July 20 – 25 (Monroe)

Rising 9th Grade Week – June 22 – 26 (Pine Bluff)

Middle School 1 – June 29 – July 2 (Lodi/Dane)
Middle School 2 – July 13 – 16 (Lancaster)

We can’t wait to see tons of rockin’ missionaries out on the mission field with us this summer.

In case you need a reminder, High School weeks are for young people currently in grades 9 – 12; Middle School weeks are for young people currently in grades 6 – 8. And, debuting for the first time this summer is a special week for young people currently in 8th grade, who would like a bit longer of an LBH experience than other Middle School trips. Leave a comment below or e-mail lbh@straphael.org with questions. (Though, with the upcoming holiday, know that the response time to your e-mails may be a bit slow. We’ll be back in full force come January 2nd.)


Frassati Fest – Register today!

Pete Quote - Blog

Ask an average high school student about the level of stress they face in their lives, and he or she would have a lot to say. Teens may be stressed about finals approaching or drama with friends, and problems within the family or how much pressure there is to live up to the expectations of coaches, teachers and the world.

That is likely not what St. Catherine had in mind when she penned those famous words about setting the world ablaze. Young people in their teenage years are supposed to be joyful, optimistic, full of plans for the future and, whether or not they appreciate hearing it, still kids.

Blog Talking

With Frassati Fest fast approaching, the youth of our Diocese are going to have an opportunity to embrace everything their young lives have to offer – meeting hundreds of new friends, having a blast at a water park and being inspired to live out the dreams that the Lord has put in their hearts. At Frassati Fest, they will have a chance to revive the fire and set the world ablaze.

Frassati Fest includes three keynotes by Pete Burds (an incredible speaker, musician and campus minister from the Milwaukee area), music, laughter, lots of good food, plenty of time in the waterpark, Adoration, Confession, the Holy Mass and a chance to get away from your day to day life.

This weekend with life changing potential will take place January 31 – February 2 at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells. To register or learn more about it, please visit www.tinyurl.com/frassatifest. Teens can register with their Parish or as individuals to be chaperoned by the Camp Gray staff!

Blog Laughing

In case you’re curious, the following are the Parishes who have teens registered!
Baraboo, St. Joseph
Beloit, Our Lady of Assumption
Cross Plains, St. Francis Xavier
Fort Atkinson, St. Joseph
Green Lake, St. Mary of the Lake
Jefferson, St. John the Baptist
Lodi and Dane, Blessed Trinity
McFarland, Christ the King
Middleton, St. Bernard
Oregon, Holy Mother of Consolation
Stoughton, St. Ann
Sun Prairie, Sacred Hearts
Sun Prairie, St. Albert
Waunakee, St. John the Baptist

Lifeteen Resources + Training!!

Lifeteen Catholic Victor Hugo Inspiration Youth Ministry

Lifeteen is really leading the way in the hip Catholic youth ministry social media world. You can easily share via Facebook or Instagram what they are calling “daily inspiration“. Get on board; the images are full of beauty and truth! They also have a great blog with relevant, also conveniently shareable article relevant to teens, parents and those who work in the Church. You can check out all of them on their website. A few of our favorites from this week include Why Pray?, An Open Letter to My Sisters This Halloween and The Potential Problem with Pink. (We’re thinking that these links can make up for there being no official Wanderer Wednesday post yesterday!)

One thing that really stands out when you spend some time considering Lifeteen’s media outreach is that they understand how to talk with and to teens. Their posts are written with teens in mind, working to challenge the culture and provoke some positive, pure thoughts. Talk about a great movement in the New Evangelization!

If you are intrigued by all of this, are interested in learning about Lifeteen programs and curriculum or you just want to be the best you can be for the teens you work with, we have something wonderful to offer you. A group of awesome youth ministers in the Diocese have arranged for a day of training with a Lifeteen Staff Member! This one day event will cover best practices in youth ministry, including how best to lead a small group and the ins and outs of relational ministry. Come join us on Saturday, November 9th in Oregon!

You can find the poster and more information for this event here: Lifeteen Training Poster.

To register or ask questions, please e-mail Tiffany Topel at ttopel@stjohnbaptist.net.

And, for good measure, happy belated feast day to our patron, Blessed Pope John Paul II, via Lifeteen’s Instagram account!

Lifeteen JPII John Paul II Catholic Youth Ministry

Theme, Dates and a Location, Oh My!

Header 1

This past weekend, we had an incredible meeting with the Frassati Fest Planning Team! A total of 23 rock star youth and 5 youth ministers joined together to vision and plan for this year’s event. We had deep discussions and shared many laughs as we settled on a theme for the 2014 Frassati Fest. We would like to share with you what we have selected.

REKINDLE: Reviving the Fire
“For he is like the refiner’s fire.” – The Prophet Malachi

We were all very moved by the concept of fire, how the Lord acts in our lives as the refiner’s fire continually making us into who we are meant to be, and how we are given the ability to share this spark with the world to set our peers, communities and world on fire for God! Tessa also shared the following quote, which is going to help set the stage for the event.

“If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire”
– St. Catherine of Siena

Get excited for this year’s Frassati Fest, and help us to spread the word!

January 31 – February 2
at our BRAND NEW location
The Kalahari Resort!

Reclaiming the Truth

We are thrilled to share that coming in April, we are not only having our typical rockin’ rEVOLution of Love event for high school students and their parents, but we are also going to be hosting a day retreat leading up to that event for interested high school students.

April Event Blog

Both events will be happening at the Bishop O’Connor Center on April 14th.

Reclaiming the Truth Retreat
1:30 – 7:30pm
The retreat includes two sessions led by incredible young adults from the Madison Diocese. The first is on the truth about high school dating and relationships, how fast is too fast and some fundamentals of the Theology of the Body. The second will be on the real definitions of man and woman. This session will explore how to live out the truth of one’s identity in today’s world. Also included in the retreat is time for prayer, games, small group discussions, planning for the future and fun! At 5:00pm, all retreat goers will have a pizza dinner before joining the Reclaiming the Truth Event with Vicki Thorn.

DSCN0352Reclaiming the Truth Event
5:30 – 7:30pm
Donations accepted.
Vicki Thorn (pictured above), founder of Project Rachel and director of the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing, will be speaking on the topic of The Biology of the Theology of the Body. The event includes her presentation for high school teens and their parents, followed by a question and answer session with the parents. Vicki brings passion, knowledge and great story telling capabilities to the talk. She will be breaking open the truth of this topic not often discussed in today’s world. Teens will have an opportunity for discussion and Adoration after the talk.

Help us spread the word about this event by sharing the link to this blog post, having ads run in your Parish’s bulletin and talking with your friends and/or teens about it!

On April 14, at the Bishop O’Connor Center in Madison, there will be a rEVOLution of Love event for high school teens and their parents. For teens who want to dive into the teaching of Theology of the Body and how to bring that truth into the world, they can attend the retreat, from 1:30 – 7:30pm. For those who are interested just in hearing Vicki Thorn, an incredible international speaker, give her presentation on The Biology of the Theology Body can come to the event from 5:30 – 7:30pm. For more information, visit www.tinyurl.com/MadisonRevolution.

Get your copy of the poster for the event, right here.