Jun 19, 2024 Print this article

“What Can a Room Full of Boys at a Chivalry Camp Do in Today’s World?”

On a hot June morning in rural Pennsylvania, a large room packed with boys listened in eager silence to the first of several meetings at the Call to Chivalry Summer Camp held from June 5 to 15. The event was organized by the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP). This year’s theme was Catholic Spain and the Reconquista.

One Hero + a Few Soldiers + a Miracle

TFP speaker Michael Chad Shibler told the story of Don Pelayo. The fearless knight who started the Reconquista of Spain from the Muslims gathered soldiers in a small cave in the northernmost part of Spain.

During the Battle of Covadonga in 722, Don Pelayo faced an army of 180,000 Muslims that surrounded him. All seemed lost. However, he achieved a smashing victory with his small band of warriors, a lot of confidence, and a prominent miracle of Our Lady. By defeating the Muslim army, he established a small foothold. “This is how the Reconquest of Spain began,” Mr. Shibler explained, “So if someone asks, ‘what can a room packed with boys at a Call to Chivalry Camp do in today’s world?’ Tell them about the miracle of Covadonga.”

(Get information about future TFP camps here.)

Rediscovering Great Heroes and Epic Battles

Following the chronological history of the Reconquest, the boys learned about a courageous and faithful knight El Cid. This champion saved Spain in the eleventh century from an invasion by North African Muslims.

Another talk was about King Saint Ferdinand III (cousin of King Saint Louis IX of France). Some boys rated it their favorite meeting. It’s easy to understand why. His life of piety and heroic deeds on the battlefield are difficult to match. He never lost a battle.

TFP member Domenick Galatolo gave one particularly sobering talk about the Siege of the Alcazar in 1936. The siege took place during the bloody and savage Spanish Civil War between ruthless communists and faithful Catholics. The communists killed over 6,800 Spanish clergy – bishops, priests, and nuns – during the conflict. They also sought to annihilate a brave garrison of soldiers holed up in the Alcazar fortress in Toledo. With much prayer and great trust in God, these soldiers made a heroic stand in the battered fortress. After fierce fighting, a relieving force saved them.

Medieval Talks, Medieval Games, and Medieval Food

The talks informed the mind, frequent prayer uplifted the soul, and the games challenged the body. These included medieval-style games such as shield ball and French football. The boys also competed for coveted prizes in archery, tomahawk throwing, and chess.

Roasted pig at the Call to Chivalry Camp 2024
The medieval style roasted pig at the Catholic camp for boys was delightful.

Halfway through the adventure, camp participants traveled to the American TFP’s Headquarters in Spring Grove for a tour of the property, followed by the Little Office of Blessed Virgin Mary in Latin accompanied by an organ. The day concluded with a Spanish-themed meal: shrimp and herbs served in seashells that recall the pilgrimage to Santiago of Compostela. Then, the main course: succulent Spanish lamb roasted on a spit over an open fire. Dessert was Torta de Santiago in honor of Spain’s patron, Saint James the Apostle, embellished with a Saint James Cross. The dining hall was adorned with medieval flags and different types of swords, calling to mind the epic battles of the Reconquista.

Call to Chivalry Camp 2024
The boys excelled in chivalrous behavior during the Medieval Games.

Modern-Day Crusaders Defend What is Greater

During the Middle Ages, Spanish knights fought according to the Code of Chivalry, which called them to defend widows and orphans, while fighting for what is greater, namely the Catholic Church and Christian civilization.

Following in the Spanish crusader's footsteps, camp participants defended the unborn and proclaimed their faith in the public square during two pro-life rosary rallies. Many boys said standing at a large intersection with a pro-life “honk” sign and praying a rosary was their favorite part of the camp. During the first pro-life campaign in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, one boy counted 532 honks of support from passing traffic!

A Special Day

Each year, the summer camp is held at the St. Louis de Montfort Academy campus in Pennsylvania, amid rolling green hills.

However, the Academy property was incredibly blessed this year with the completion of a magnificent new grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes. The grotto is set on the hillside overlooking the campus.

A longtime friend of the St. Louis de Montfort Academy, the Most Reverend William Waltersheid, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, graced the camp with his presence in a ceremony to inaugurate and bless the Lourdes Grotto.

Prayer formation at the Call to Chivalry Camp 2024
Prayer is a central part of the Call to Chivalry camp for Catholic boys.

What Can a Catholic Camp Achieve?

Fortified in their faith, these young men learned to fulfill their Confirmation duty as soldiers of Christ. They left the camp better prepared to confront the spiritual battles that await them in this fallen modern-day world.

Fight the good fight we must, trusting not in our strength but in the maternal intercession of Our Lady and Queen.

The words of TFP founder Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira sum up very well what these young men can achieve if they correspond to God's grace:

“When men resolve to cooperate with the grace of God, the marvels of history are worked: the conversion of the Roman Empire; the formation of the Middle Ages; the reconquest of Spain, starting from Covadonga; all the events that result from the great resurrections of soul of which peoples are also capable.”

Viva Cristo Rey!

(Get information about future TFP camps here.)