Loud cheers filtered through the dense woods. This was no average sporting event, but rather the “medieval games” at Call to Chivalry Camp where two teams of boys – each with their own patron Saint – are tested in feats of prowess and heroism.
The unity and camaraderie of that final scene could sum up the ten-day camp. The intense physical, intellectual, and religious formation had forged friendships and bonds that made it seem that camp participants were not just individuals but rather a Catholic band of brothers.
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Daily Rosary Processions
From the morning bagpipe and drum reveille to the nightly rosary procession, the Call to Chivalry Camp was an unforgettable experience for dozens of boys who filled the camp to capacity. Interest was so high that some parents asked to be on a waiting list for the next camp.
Co-sponsored by the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) and the Saint Louis de Montfort Academy, this camp was held at the Academy’s campus in rural Pennsylvania from June 7–17, 2023.
Catholic boys, ages 12-18, traveled from multiple states to attend the program, which combined informative talks and action-packed games surrounded in a wholesome atmosphere infused with manly piety.
This year’s theme was that of Catholic France. Heroes from the past mixed with the present as the boys heard talks on Emperor Charlemagne, Godfrey of Bouillon, Saint Louis IX, Saint Joan of Arc, Saint Louis de Montfort, and other holy crusaders. To add to the cultural experience of learning about medieval France, the program included talks about French culture, architecture, and cuisine.
Piety – or better manly piety – is an essential ingredient of the program. The TFP camp stresses the need for prayer as a vital part of “spiritual combat” readiness of these modern day knights. They are always challenged to adopt the Code of Chivalry in their modern-day lives. There was even a “vigil of arms” held throughout one night where the boys prayed at one hour intervals before a relic of the True Cross.
Fathers are encouraged to attend part or the whole camp with their sons. Indeed, the fathers have become an essential part of the logistical support for the camp… and even join in some of the games such as tomahawk throwing and archery.
“When my son comes home, the only thing he talks about is this,” said one father who spent a few days at the camp himself.
Pro-Life Street Campaign
The young men who attend the Call to Chivalry Camp love stepping into the public square to defend the unborn. Although it rained, the band of prayer warriors did not rush for cover. They didn’t mind contending with poor weather conditions as long as they could proclaim the sanctity of the God-given right to life. It's a concrete way to put the virtues of chivalry into practice in 2023.
The signs on display, including “honk against abortion,” received hundreds of favorable responses, especially loud honks from semi-trucks. When the pro-life campaign ended, camp participants asked, “Can we do it again?” Their enthusiasm was real, contagious, and courageous.
The intellectual formation was facilitated by veteran TFP volunteers who gave talks on French Catholic saints and history. Members and graduates of the TFP’s Sedes Sapientiae Institute also gave presentations about Notre Dame Cathedral and French castles and palaces such as Chambord and Chenonceau.
Medieval Games & Banquet
The final day marked the highlight of the event and brought to a culmination the united efforts of so many friends, families and supporters who made the program both possible and legendary.
After the games, all came in rosary procession where nearly 90 people crowded into an outdoor tent-turned-medieval banquet hall.
A magnificent feast was prepared: a large slow-roasted pig and several different kinds of meat. A castle cake complete with moat, and warriors arranged in battle array from its edible ramparts.
Speeches of farewell and gratitude plus the distribution of a special souvenir was the fitting end to an unforgettable summer camp.
Looking at the joy radiating from so many young faces demonstrates how the golden age of Catholic chivalry continues to attract and inspire.
The camp was over but the bonds forged over the ten days remain. The boys returned to face all the horrible pressures of today’s culture. However, they now know they are not the only ones involved in this noble fight. They are now prepared to uphold Catholic values and thrive in their Faith.