After years of successful boys camps in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and California, TFP Student Action and the St. Louis de Montfort Academy organized their first Call to Chivalry Camp in the Great Lakes region. Held at the historic Durward’s Glen Retreat Center in the Baraboo Hills of Wisconsin from August 12-15, the camp hosted 22 boys and 5 fathers from Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky.
The camp was a fast-paced event of prayer, challenging games, and uplifting talks all centered around the theme of medieval Catholic France. The stories of the heroic deeds of great Catholic men such as King St. Louis IX and Henri de la Rochejaquelein, leader of the Royalist Vendéan Insurrection against the French Revolution, were recounted and received by the boys with much enthusiasm.
Frequent prayer, the rosary, and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary are hallmarks of the Call to Chivalry Camp. Every day began with early rising to the bagpipes and drums followed by a prayer to St. Michael asking for his protection and guidance for the battles of the day. After room inspection is morning formation when the boys line up in front of the American flag and TFP standard and the Credo in Latin, boldly proclaiming our Catholic Faith. The boys then marched in step to breakfast singing the hymn We Want God composed by St. Louis de Montfort. Following breakfast was rosary before the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel.
On Saturday, August 15th, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the camp was blessed with a Tridentine Mass. After Mass and lunch commenced the high point of the camp, the Medieval Games, where the boys are tested not only on their physical prowess but above all in their character and decorum on and off the field. A highlight of the day was the competition to recite the Ten Commandments of Chivalry by memory. Other tournaments included ping pong and fencing, with the winner of each earning a prize. The Medieval Games finished with a challenging timed obstacle course constructed on two bluffs beside a fast-moving creek.
Camp attendees learned, among other things, the glories of our Christian past, the stories of great Catholic heroes, and above all why we in the 21st century are called to be warriors in defense of the Church and Christian civilization.
The 17th century Jesuit missionaries such as the great Fr. Jacques Marquette were among the very first Europeans to set foot on the shores of Wisconsin and the other Great Lakes states. Their heroic sacrifices to evangelize the Indians of the New World and build a Catholic civilization in the wilderness serve as an example for young men today. Like them we must conquer our neo-pagan world for the glory of God and His Holy Mother. Although the odds seem overwhelming, we must have confidence in the words of Our Divine Savior, “With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible.” (Matt 19:26)