Conquest National Leadership Camp
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2011 National Conquest Camp - Call & Duty
2011 Conquest National Leadership Camp Highlights
July 7-13, 2011
Leadership Ops Camp for boys ages 10-13
National Team Leader Training Ops for boys ages 14-17
Letter to parents from Todd Brechbill - July 2011
I am truly blessed to be a part of this incredible camp, as all of your sons are exceptional young men who are continuing to learn more about virtue each day and grow in their faith. The camp is built around friendship and teamwork, and all the boys are having an experience that they will remember for years to come.
We have a total of 34 boys enlisted, along with the leadership of 4 Legionary brothers, Fr. Daniel Brandenburg our camp commander in chief and Chaplain, and 3 dads (including myself). Also, a special thanks to Sue Gow (who helped with much of the pre-camp organizing), and the Guttman's who are cooking all of our outstanding meals. Finally, a thank you to the Abel's for their generosity in letting us use the incredibly beautiful property for our camp the entire week.
Below are some of the highlights of the activities thus far.
DAY 1 - (Thursday July 7th) Arrival & Orientation
During the arrivals, all the boys went for a swim in the resort style pool. The camp officially began around 6pm with dinner - sloppy joe's and French fries. (moms - it is all-boy food this week!) All of the campers were then taken back to the main barn building (fully restored, an incredible building which is air-conditioned and pre-dates the Civil War). The boys were split into six different teams, each with a team leader assigned.
They were then issued their combat gear: Conquest Camp Call & Duty hat, dri-fit black polo, cinch bag, prayer book, flashlight, stainless steel canteen, poncho, and pen. The boys received formal instructions about the camp and began to set up their assigned area for sleeping and storing their gear. Each team will be in constant competition among teams the entire duration of the camp for points - points given for any acts of virtue.
Fr. Daniel then celebrated Mass in the barn where a special area was set up as a chapel. During the homily, he spoke about the goals of the national camp - Call & Duty. The boys learned that they are in a spiritual battle - a battle between good and evil. They will go to war with the 7 deadly sins - and conquer one each day of the camp by discovering and practicing the specific virtue that is the opposite of each capital vice. This particular day the vice was "GREED".
The boys were all shown 7 different objects that represent the 7 virtues they would learn and practice during the camp to beat the devil and win the battle to overcome the capital sins.
After Mass, the virtue symbols (objects) were placed on individual pillars on the patio area just outside the barn for the boys to visibly see all week and remind them of the virtues they are striving to live. It was dark, and the boys were below the patio area enjoying a bonfire and learning about the vice of "greed" and how to overcome it with the virtue of "Charity", when all of the sudden smoke grenades started going off all around them. They heard loud explosions from 3 different areas around them. Finally, on the patio, fountain fireworks lit up the area where they spotted a huge gorilla - who was pounding his chest and yelling "I stole your virtues!" A man in an orange prisoner jumpsuit also appeared with him - grabbing all the virtue objects, and running away. They escaped in a Polaris 4-seater through an apple orchard - with many of the boys in hot pursuit. The vehicle was simply too fast as they watched them disappear in the woods.
On their way back to the barn, several of the teams looked for clues and found some Pope JP II coins on the path (the symbol for the virtue of "Charity"). The boys must have won the battle for "Charity" this day, because they were able to recover that symbol. They all went to bed with an exciting mission in mind - to conquer the vice (deadly sin) each day with the opposing virtue in order to win their virtue symbols back.
VIEW PICTURES HERE
DAY 2 - (Friday July 8th) BASIC TRAINING (HELL DAY)
The boys awoke to area inspections, morning prayers in the chapel, and a great sausage and egg breakfast. They then had an exciting day, going to individual training stations that were set up on various parts of the property. They learned skills to help them in the battle and mission. These included how to use a map and compass training, how to use an axe, how to build a fort, how to build a campfire, hand to hand combat training and how to properly serve Holy Mass. After training, each team was issued special materials to make their own water balloon launchers. Each team then competed in an artillery contest for distance and accuracy. They had some incredible distance - close to 100 yards, but the LC brothers had their own specially made launcher - which went well over 100 yards and into the woods!
After the boys enjoyed a great dinner of hamburgers and tator-tots, they walked through the apple orchard and visited the Stations of the Cross. Fr. Daniel then celebrated Mass, and gave the homily on the virtue of "Patience" to overcome the vice of "Anger". After Mass, we were blessed to have a special guest speaker, David Abel, who spoke about his conversion back to the Church and his mission to help save souls.
VIEW PICTURES HERE
DAY 3 - (Saturday July 9th) Training & Mission - Gettysburg Outing
This day the boys learned about the sin of "Envy" and the virtue of "Kindness" to overcome and win this battle. After a great breakfast of cereal and creamed chip beef on toast, two boys were walking back to the building and found a note and their object symbol for the virtue of "Patience". It was in red and basically said that they had earned their virtue back, but warned them that they would not win again! The note was hard to read, and perhaps written by the gorilla himself!
The bus trip to Gettysburg was filled with activity such as songs and Catechism contests. The boys first spent about an hour at the visitor center and museum. They saw firsthand several videos and actual artifacts from the Civil War such as clothing items, guns, gear, etc.
We all enjoyed a lunch of Stromboli and chips in a picnic area. We then went to Pitzer Woods, where we observed a live reenactment of several Confederate soldiers, actually firing their weapons under many different commands and line formations. The battlefield was incredible, and the boys all got a great sense of history. We then were able to visit with the several soldiers, and the boys all had opportunities to ask questions.
The next stop was Spangler's Spring, where we visited with some of the Union snipers. Finally, a visit to the Soldier's National Cemetery, where we all prayed for the souls of fallen soldiers buried there. There were entire sections of unknown bodies, which showed how devastating this war really was. Then a quick trip to the gift store, and back home to the camp. Some fudge-sicles and popsicles really hit the spot upon return. Dinner (pulled pork), some time to swim, Mass, then a movie - "Glory" rounded out the night. The boys had an overall great experience today, learning about the Civil War and our American history, and an exposure to real battlefield conditions and stories.
VIEW PICTURES HERE
Day 4 - (Sunday July 10th) Mission: Team Ops
After a good night's sleep, the campers awoke to a glorious Sunday morning, ready to work together as a team throughout the day. After morning prayers in the barn chapel, teams headed out to pray the rosary together and then eat a hearty breakfast. A note was discovered from the Seven conceding victory on the battle against envy, but pledging a fierce fight for chastity. After a talk from Br Daniel Rolczynski, the boys headed out to brave an obstacle course with nine stations through the forest and trails. Each station required intense teamwork and coordination, beginning with a rope spider webbing spun through 2 trees, the Ooga Googa Lava Pit, the Stonewall Jackson team climb, and 10 pushups in fresh mud. While some teams worked their way through the course, others competed in filling water balloons for use in upcoming skirmishes. After a lunch of chicken fingers and pasta salad, the teams set out to construct forts in the forest, utilizing axes, hatchets, saws, hammers, twine and hands to set up two large forts for games of water balloon capture the flag.
Teams 1, 2, and 3 took the high ground and set to chopping down large trunks and moving some already chopped wood into place for their fort. Teams 4, 5, and 6 worked together to fortify the low ground, but choosing to set out smaller sticks and brush covered with plants to prevent any water spattering through the walls.
While they worked, 4 vices of the band of Seven attacked in the open field, racing by in a 4 wheel ATV and tossing smoke bombs towards the half-completed forts. Attempts to chase them down and find their identify proved futile, but a photographer on site managed to snap a few photos of the attack.
Building resumed, and after several hours of work, both groups opted to continue working instead of going for a swim in the pool. After dinner, teams then vied for points cleaning up the kitchen, mopping the dormitory area in the barn, and picking up trash. It's amazing what the Conquest point system can do to motivate boys!
Fr Daniel Brandenburg celebrated Mass in the late evening once again, and then all were sent to bed early... not suspecting that they would soon all be ambushed by the Seven. Just after midnight they struck, crashing into the dorm area and awaking all with a siren and loud shouts. The boys rushed out to catch glimpses of them escaping... one that looked like a gorilla, and others in orange prisoner suits. After an hour of fruitless attempts to catch them and regain our remaining virtues, the campers made it back to the bunks exhausted. The next day would prove crucial.
Day 5 - (Monday July 11th) Mission: Storm the Gates (of hell)
Day 5 of the camp dawned with the determination to take the spiritual battle against sin and vice to the next level. After the days of personal training, reconnaissance, and team ops, they were ready for action. After nourishing soul (morning prayers and rosary) and body (pancakes with butter and syrup, along with Sunny D), the campers set out to finish their forts and play a few games of water balloon capture the flag. Hand thrown balloons had to break on the person to get them out, but it was enough for spray from water balloons launched from the slingshots (artillery fire) to hit someone to take them out of action. Downed players had to run out to neutral ground 75 yards from the action, pray 5 Hail Mary's, and then they could head back into action.
After a hearty lunch of pulled pork sandwiches at which talk still revolved around the night attack from the Seven, another note was discovered returning the symbol for the virtue of chastity (shrine and rosary of Pilgrim Queen of the Family) and vowing to defeat us with gluttony. Br Keegan McDermott vowed just as solemnly to not let that happen, and gave a talk on how to live the virtue of temperance. Temperatures continued to rise into the 90s with high humidity, so the campers spent much of the afternoon enjoying the swimming pool and engaging in various team competitions until dinner time. Two large pizzas per 5 man team were served out, and all food disappeared into hungry stomachs (so much for the talk on gluttony...). An afternoon thunderstorm rolled through and we had a few indoor activities.
Thanks be to God, the storm dropped the temperatures, and we able to enjoy a late evening Mass and night prayers before getting to bed early.
Day 6 - (Tuesday July 12th) Mission: Deployment
This was the day many of the boys had been looking forward to: paintball. It was also the climax of our fight against vice, with pride set in the crosshairs. We rose early to eat a big breakfast of eggs and pancakes, and then boarded our yellow school bus at 7:45 to drive to Ambush Paintball in Lancaster, PA. The boys listened attentively to their safety instructions, and then took to the forest armed with paintball markers and divided into two teams of 20. Michael Jacobeen who works with the Conquest clubs in the Washington, DC, area joined us that day, along with the 2 dads (Jamie Cottle and Todd Brechbill) and the 4 brothers and priest helping out at the camp. Needless the say the battles were intense and plenty of bruises were inflicted, but no serious casualties... except for the vice of pride we were fighting to vanquish.
We made it to lunch exhausted, and after the Angelus and prayer over our food, the air was chattering with stories while we ate our sandwiches, Pringles and Gatorade disappeared into hungry stomachs. After the nourishment we took to the field again, all the way until 4 pm. Nick Abel and Austin Volk took the prize for the most painful hits (to the neck), while Michael Jacobeen and Fr Daniel Brandenburg vied for the "most reckless" award. Fr Daniel won, and has 33 welts to prove it. Most escaped with few bruises, but plenty of stories to recount on the bus ride. We found time to pray the rosary on our return trip and then enjoyed a delicious dip in the pool before an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner. With full stomachs the boys carried out every chore they could invent to get extra points, and prepared for Mass. After a beautiful Eucharistic Celebration with a homily on pride - what it is (placing confidence in self instead of in God) and its effects (inability to pray, discouragement, disobedience, and hatred of God) - we processed with the Blessed Sacrament to an outdoor altar with torches and incense, received benediction, and went to bed thankful to have conquered yet one more virtue: humility (the truth about who we are before God).
Day 7 - (Wednesday July 13th) Mission: Homeward Bound
Our last day of camp began early, with teams striving to gain every last possible point to win the competition. After morning prayers and breakfast, the final tallies were made and the victors determined. Arrayed before them was a table full of prizes, ranging from souvenirs from Gettysburg to soccer balls to boxes of Butterfingers to model airplane kits. Individual awards came first, with those campers who exemplified best each of the seven virtues of the week coming forward to take their first pick from the options on the table. The team award went to team 5 (the M&Ms, "Mary's Marines") led by Josh Chauvin of Louisiana, who also won the individual Sacred Heart (not Purple Heart) Award for the camper/counselor who best exemplified all the virtues. Each of the campers had their pick of prizes and also received a certificate for the completion of the leadership camp.
Immediately following the awards ceremony, all assembled for the closing Mass. In his homily, Fr Daniel mentioned how our spiritual battle does not end with the camp. The last vice, sloth, is the one that gets us started down the road of vice, and we will have to fight tooth and nail against it upon returning home. The temptation to sit around and do nothing the rest of the summer, or to take a vacation from our spiritual effort will weaken our ability to resist vice. Our battle against the Seven is real, and we need to be continuously strengthened by God's grace and assistance. After the homily, two boys made a pledge of friendship to Jesus Christ through ECYD (Experiences, Convictions, Your Decisions) as a concrete way to give continuity to the virtue lived in the camp; 9 other boys renewed the pledge they had made on previous retreats or camps, receiving the symbol that corresponds to each age level (rosary ring, Bible, candle, crucifix). After Mass, parents arrived to pick up their boys and head home.
Conquest Call & Duty 2011 has come to an end, and the 2012 camp is promised to be even better. Dates at the same location are July 7-14, 2012.Mark your calendars now because space will be limited and I can guarantee you that slots will fill up quickly!
We extend a huge thank you to all you parents. Your prayers, love and dedication made it possible for your boys to experience this camp and grow in the manly virtue that will help them to be the leaders the Church and our society need. We thank the Abel family for their immense generosity in making their property available for our use. Thank you also to the Guttman family for the delicious meals, to Sue Gow for her preparatory work behind the scenes, to the brothers, priest, dads and ECYD missionaries who helped staff the camp, and to the many more people working and praying behind the scenes.
May God bless you all!
Todd Brechbill and Fr. Daniel Brandenburg, LC