“I think camp is a natural partner, a place where youth ministry can happen, another piece of the puzzle as a way to connect with youth over the course of the year,” he said. “I think a lot of (directing youth ministry) is being a liaison for what is happening in the parishes, the schools and the diocese, and making sure the work I’m doing is supporting the work that they are doing.”
Following a successful summer camp season, which saw an increase of 60 campers from 2009, Blumreich said he is familiarizing himself with the state of youth ministry in the diocese through the assistance of Rosie Bartel, diocesan director of religious education.
“One big thing that is going on right now in that process is Prince of Peace (Green Bay) did a survey of youth in the parish to develop a sense of what it is that is meaningful to them in terms of youth ministry,” said Blumreich. “How connected do they feel to the parish? How connected do they feel to their faith life? We are now developing that survey for the entire diocese.”
The plan is for the survey to be presented to all Catholic schools and religious education programs in October. It will also be available online.
“I’m going to learn fast what our youth ministers are doing and what they need, and look forward to hearing from youth about what things are important to them,” said Blumreich. “Looking at the results from Prince of Peace, more than 70 percent of the youth in the age range they were targeting responded. The results will be instrumental in guiding us to what we should be doing.”
Off-season use of Camp Tekawitha has increased over the past two years. For example, the freshman class from Xavier High School in Appleton kicked off the school year with a camp retreat. A two-day retreat was recently held for the eighth grade class from Seton Middle School in Menasha.
“I have the opportunity to personally be working with those groups not only as the camp director, but also as director of youth ministry,” said Blumreich. “It provides another opportunity to be one step closer to what is going on with that level of youth and to see firsthand how youth ministers, campus ministers or religious education personnel are connected with young people.”
Camp Tekawitha was honored on Sept. 20 as a recipient of Cellcom’s first annual Green Gifts program. Eric Blumreich, director of CampTekawitha, located on Loon Lake in Shawano County, was presented $3,750in recognition of its commitment to environmental stewardship programs.
Cellcom receives funds for its phone recycling efforts, which it isnow using to fund programs that deal with sustainability andenvironmental stewardship, said Brighid Riordan, director of publicaffairs for the wireless company.
“We are excited about seeing the plans and piloting of environmentalstewardship for children in the diocese and beyond,” said Riordan, aformer Camp Tekawitha counselor. “Camp Tekawitha has done anoutstanding job in helping children to understand how important natureis and the responsibility to be kind to the environment.”
The financial gift was awarded at a 100-year anniversary event at the Cellcom/Nsight corporate location in Howard.
New themes and activities, including sailing, were offered at Camp Tekawitha this past summer. New offerings for the off-season and summer of 2011 are in the works, said Blumreich.
“We are looking at a parent-child camp for 5 to 8-year-olds, some leadership camps for students going into eighth grade, a leadership camp for high school seniors,” he said. “We are also setting aside some windows where we are just focusing on having the schools in for environmental stewardship and leadership retreats.
“I think we did a good job this past year reaching out through Catholic Charities and other programs to invite kids who might not have the opportunity to go to camp,” he added. “We were able to provide adequate funding to make that opportunity available to them.”
Blumreich entered the summer somewhat unsure about his future with Camp Tekawitha. If he wasn’t appointed director, he said he was determined to stay involved and help the camp move forward.
“The thing about summer camp and at its core is that the kids are there to have fun and they are able to make the most of any situation,” he said. “Even with all the rain we had, it never got in the way of any programming, and it brought the lake level up, which was really nice. The kids had more time to jump in puddles and swim in deeper water. It’s such a great place to be.”