Friday, July 7, 2017

TFP Camp

This is the recap of the days at camp by  Michael C. Shibler

Just to update you on what is happening at the Great Lakes Summer Camp
 As most are aware, the camp started Saturday at noon when lunch was officially served.  After lunch, a hearty all-American affair consisting mostly of burgers and Tater Tots, there was a first talk during which the boys were introduced to the instructors and given an overview of the camp rules and regulations.  Immediately following the talk, the boys were organized into a formation by roll call number.  There were liberal sprinklings of pushups and other physical stimulants to get the boy attention during the forming up but the entire process was done with such good spirits and such a hearty sense of discipline that it was a joy to watch. The boys were soon divided into groups for fencing instructions by staff members and commenced their first lessons in the fine art of swordsmanship with great gusto and enthusiasm. 
                After the fencing practice was complete, the next talk was about Our Lady of Fatima given by the camp coordinator Mr. Rex Teodosio.  It was interesting to watch the reaction of many of the boys who had previously been to Fatima presentations, one could see their faces light up when they heard a part that they remembered from the last talk or shake their heads energetically when the presentation touched on some live point regarding their own lives. 
                After Mr. Rex’s inspiring talk, dinner was served, with chicken tortillas and rice adding a little Tex-Mex flavor to our repertoire of amazing meals.  Lively conversation and some amicable debates were carried on at the different tables while people figured out the who, what, when, here and how of each other’s lives.   As an example, topics at our table ranged from hunting deer with crossbows to favorite paintball tactics, airsoft vs paintball as the most enjoyable type of war games, the American Civil War, and possible future Civil Wars, who would be on which side, who had better generals, the morality of slavery and true devotion to Mary.  All in all, the boys generally carried on interesting and informative conversations, some raised questions to be resolved in future debates while others laid to rest objections and opposing views.
                A solemn rosary procession followed dinner.  The sun was still beautiful and was just reaching that time of the day photographers call the golden hour when Our Lady’s statue was carried reverently down the long, tree lined drive in company with her loving sons chanting her praises.  Four stalwart young men formed the retinue of the blessed image of their Holy Mother.  As the procession came to an end in front of the main building, all the boys, lining either side of the path to let Mary pass while singing the ancient song, Salve Regina, Mater Misericordia, if not with artistic talent, at least with youthful vigor. 
                Anticipating the campaign on the following day, two TFP members, Mr. Thomas Schnieder and Mr. Joseph Jordan gave a light talk about TFP Student Action and the rules for a TFP volunteer on campaign.  The boys watched spellbound as some videos were shown demonstrating how to approach different possible situations that might occur on a street campaign.  After such a long and tiring day, one would think that it was now time for bed…but no it was time for choir and band practice.  Since on the next day, time was going to be tight, we had to prepare most of the things the night before.  Several of the camp participants had brought instruments, so we practiced how to integrate them into the songs that we would be singing the next day.
Finally, the boys were sent off to rest for the labors awaiting them on the morrow.  In spite of the grueling schedule, there were still boys who had to chased off to bed after lights out because they insisted on playing one last game of chess before turning in.

Sunday July 2nd
Wake up to bagpipes and drums.  For those who have never been exposed to the shrieking wale of a bagpipe at close range while trying to eke out one last second of sleep before the inevitable occurs, I can assure you that the experience is electrifying.  Old timers were already in the hall, waiting, by the time the music stopped, others came out confused and a little tousled but all were most definitely awake.  Since the boys had all showered the night before, the program was to wash up, brush up and get into your Sunday best clothes.  Inspection of bodily hygiene, orderliness of room and sharpness of position soon put the boys into fighting trim and they proceeded off to the parade ground for drill. 
A Marine dad present likened the formation practice to the close order drill he used to practice when he was in training, but he may have exaggerated just a little.  The boys basically learned how to put their chests out, to suck their stomachs in, to put their shoulders back and to line up in a straight line.  Such things can be bewildering to a young man fresh from a relaxing summer vacation but to have to learn the difference between his right and left hand in addition to doing all of the above seems a little extravagant.  No matter, everything had to be learned and fast or we would be late for a pancake and sausage breakfast. 
After consuming copious amounts of food and a rousing discussion regarding whether bacon should be one of the official proofs that God loves us, the boys headed upstairs for another talk.  This was given by yours truly and focused on the proper state of spirit to have while on a TFP Street Campaign.  During the talk something scandalous happened.  A phone began to ring from the audience.  As all parents know, any electronic devices are confiscated from participants before the camp begins.  The young man’s father also happened to be present and began to think of strange and terrible things to punish the audacity of his son for breaking the house rules.  Then a voice came over the speaker…it was a skit.  Well rather than describe it, I will let you watch it yourselves. (Its very funny)   
At 10:15 we had a practice on how to stand on the sidewalk, how to raise the banners and how to sing the songs in preparation for the afternoon campaign.  Then we loaded up the vans and headed out to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the beautiful St. John Cantius church in Chicago.  What an amazing testament of love offered to God.  The church is magnificently beautiful.  The Latin Mass had already begun shortly before we arrived but as the boys filed in quietly they were struck by the incredible grandeur of the edifice.  Add to that a fantastic men’s choir, and an organ that has the subtle volume of an ocean liner’s fog horn, bellowing forth stanzas of sacred music with great spirit and you have an ensemble that can remind one only of heavenly things. Confessionals lined the walls on all sides with priests attending throughout the entire Mass for anyone wishing to take advantage of the sacrament.
After Mass ended, one of the Brothers kindly gave us a quick guided tour of the church before we had to rush on to our lunch which was consumed outdoors but close by the church.  Lunch was turkey and ham sandwiches, with a side of apples and chips while desert was a packet of skittles and a fresh baked cookie.   The staff here certainly do not let us go hungry.  Well stocked with fuel, the army was ready to march.
We then headed downtown into the city.  The place was a picture of chaos very different from the ordered harmony of St. John Cantius Church.  The streets were choked with cars and the sidewalks overflowing with people.  Few, if any, locals were about and tourists ruled the town.  Sadly, modesty and Christian comportment in most people was noticeably absent.  In that moral whirlpool we raised up the banners of purity and love of God, standing proudly for our Catholic Faith, and there proclaimed our love of Catholic doctrine for all who cared to listen…and for those who didn’t too.  Abortion is a tremendously volatile issue but we saw quickly that we were protected by friends.  When some misguided liberals tried to harass the campaign, they were calmly, and forcefully, told to move along by the three good hearted policemen who were assigned to guard the rally. 
Several old friends of ours, and others we did not know, joined us either for the entire time or for a few minutes to show their support.   One camp participant’s mother and several older siblings showed up to help which was greatly appreciated.  All in all, it was an extremely successful and effective campaign which attained its purpose of standing up for those too weak to stand up for themselves.  Any Crusader of old would have been proud to join us today in the battle to overthrow the culture of death.
Back at camp, dinner and an exciting game of charades was followed by another talk given by Mr. Rex Teodosio on the role of Chivalry.    One would think that the boys would get tired out after a long grueling day but this is simply not the case.  Prison break is the order of the day when the sun goes down but the description of that game will have to wait for another day.  Now the time is 1:15 AM and counselors need to sleep too... well we will take our rest in heaven.  
Day 3 
Monday July 3

Today was a lot calmer after the hectic first two days of camp.  The boys are “getting it” now regarding the different formations and have begun to function more as a group.  The meal tables are now starting to have regular attendees in certain spots so conversations can be continued from previous topics.  People are beginning to call each other by first names instead of yesterday’s “sorry what was your name again?”  Besides the friendships that are beginning to form, team rivalries are beginning to appear.

               We woke up at 7:30 to give the boys a little time to rest after the late-night game of prison break.  Rather than re-invent the wheel I will attach a description recently sent out to parents by my college in Louisiana:
“Boys are full of energy, as you know all too well. So despite having traveled many hours, they eagerly played a game of “prison break.” For those who are not familiar with the game, it is a hybrid between hide-and-go-seek and capture the flag, but without the flag. The boys love the game. On one side, you have the “guards” who carry flashlights and go around tagging the “prisoners.” Once tagged, the prisoners hold hands forming a line anchored to a tree or pole designated as the “prison.” It is the job of the untagged “prisoners” to try to run through the cordon of guards and tag those in the prison. When one of them successfully tags those in the prison, without being tagged by a guard, all the freed prisoners scream “Prison Break!!!” and run in all directions to hide from the guards again.”
              The talks today were about the children of Fatima and what they mean to us today.  Mr. Matthew Shibler gave a talk in the morning titled St. Francisco: choosing good friends, cursing and dishonor in games.  Then we changed and headed straight to do fencing again.  This time the groups were reversed and each group got to try out weapons they were not able to practice with the previous day.  The boys were energetic and not easily dissuaded to stop for lunch…that is until they realized it was Sloppy Joes with a side of cheddar broccoli soup…who said comfort food was not good for you?

               After lunch there was a rosary in the chapel in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  The chapel is not very beautiful, especially after visiting the fantastic St. John Cantius but we look upon the place as a poor prison where our dear Savior is imprisoned and try to visit Him as many times throughout the day as we can spare.  From the rosary, the boys went immediately out to play field games.  Talk about exhausting.  Shieldball was invented by students at the Saint Louis de Montfort Academy to take the place of Rugby, a game they considered just a bit to wimpy for their tastes.  The main idea is to expend as much energy as possible in the shortest amount of time.  To score a goal one must knock over a shield supported by a board using a soccer ball while the other team and a goalie try to prevent them.  The younger group of boys played capture the flag in another field with just as much ardor but quite a bit less tackling. 

                At 3:00 the boys changed into their swimming clothes and headed to the pool for some quick tips on water survival before diving into the water.  There was room for every type of fun, so while some had water gun fights in the shallow areas, others dived off the edge into the deep end and a few timid souls watched happily with their feet dangling into the water off the edge.  Due to a threatening thunderstorm, the participants were hurried out of the pool and into the showers.  This led to having some time for a game of Mafia before dinner under the expert guidance of Mr. Charles Sulzen.  Not thinking ahead, the game was started in the area where the buffet needed to be set up.  Nothing daunted, all the participants were suddenly transported from a tiny town in Alaska infested with bandits to a large metropolitan city that largely resembled Houston by moving the game from the downstairs room where they had started to the meeting room upstairs.  Even in games, the march of progress does not leave men far behind.

                We actually created something of a record, surprising as it may be, here at the camp.  For the first time in the history of Lasalle Manor, they ran out of salad at the buffet.  The serving staff were completely taken off their guard by the amazing capacity of starving young squires to polish off mountains of food in record time, including certain green varieties that rarely seem to make it on the plates of budding warriors.  The dinner was Chicken Stir Fry over rice and fresh baked rolls. 

                After dinner was another rosary outside with a procession carrying Our Lady’s statue.  Following the rosary yours truly gave a talk about Jacinta focusing on her seriousness and about her reaction to the vision of Hell shown to the three children by Our Lady.  It was a serious talk and a good number of the boys responded very well to the rather pointed observations, hopefully taking them to heart.  Finishing the meeting, there were some more indoor games while Mr. Rex gave a short presentation to the dads about the activities of the American TFP.  As is customary each night, some of the staff with the dads then sat about discussing the talks and solving all the problems of the world. 

               The Good Night talk was also given by Mr. Rex (the man is incredible) and focused on the Satanic incursions into modern culture along with some very good advice on how to combat the effects of this devilish influence in our daily lives.  Lights out was at 9:30 with Grand Silence to be observed till morning.  With that I will also join the ranks of the devotees of Morpheus and hopefully spend some hours conversing with my pillow before the banshee wail of the bagpipes drives the lingering wisps of sleep into oblivion tomorrow morning.

Day 4

Tuesday, July 4, 2017
                Today is a very special day for all those who love the many good things that this country still stands for.  Happy 4th of July and God bless America. 
                We woke this morning to another gorgeous day.  Actually, we cannot complain about the weather as it has been very good by the grace of Our Lady.  Although it threatens to rain, or we get a ten minute squall and thunder regularly rumbles in the distance, we have been spared any extended rain showers.  Hopefully that continues into tomorrow and the next day.
                The program in the morning does not change much, other than the food, so I will not bore you with the finer details.  The first talk was given by Mr. Gabriel Shibler this morning about a pilgrimage to Santiago de Campostella that was done by four TFP members, including two of the counselors at the camp.  He explained, in detail, what it takes to walk the 160 mile long Camino Portuguese.  There were pictures and videos to accompany the presentation which lasted for over an hour.  If there is one point that was really hammered it would be “It is NOT about the gear.” Anyone in reasonable health that wishes to do the Camino can do so as long as he has the willpower to keep walking even when it hurts.  After that there was also a short presentation by Mr. Francis Slobodnic regarding the TFP Rosary Rallies, why we do them and how to do one.   Both talks were well received with lots of comments and questions.
                Right after the talk we headed out to do a preliminary fencing tournament.  While this was going on, the dads and some of the counselors had a hands on…or should I say masks on…session of basic scuba diving in the large pool.  Everyone passed with flying colors and are now certified by Mr. Rex to dive into a new hobby…sadly this certification means nothing to a dive shop so wives may rest assured that their husbands still can’t rent the necessary oxygen tanks.   Meanwhile the boys moved on to other games until lunchtime.  After lunch, chicken sandwiches with Freedom…or uhm…French Fries, there was a rosary as is customary.
                After letting the food digest, by playing some calmer games, the boys got changed into their swimming clothes for a grand splash.  It was a lively bunch.  While one side of the long pool was involved in a water gun war, using inner tubes as makeshift battleships, the other side organized a game of water polo.  It was an amazing not to mention an exhausting experience because those playing had to tread water almost continuously since we were on the nine foot deep side.  The goals were makeshift affairs, some deck chairs that had seen better days were pressed into service.  Those few who stayed outside the water were drafted from their primary jobs, that of adding bright splashes of color to the drab concrete retainer wall, to the more important role of gofer.  Needless to say some of the wallflowers decided to join us in the water after the ball was thrown over the fence a few times.
                One aspect that is important to note regarding the swimming at the Call to Chivalry camp is the following; modesty and manly dignity are stimulated to the highest degree.  All the boys are required to wear t-shirts and shorts to the pool and we have proved to them without a shadow of a doubt that one can both practice virtue and enjoy the delights of swimming.  Sunburn also doesn’t seem to be an issue…I wonder why?
                The evening meal was a pizza dinner that was served by the local delivery man along with cans of soda for the participants.  All ate their fill after the strenuous exercise of the preceding hours and, needless to say, all the pizzas were consumed.  Dessert consisted of cupcakes decorated with tiny American flags and no less than four buckets of ice cream all of which were duly emptied.  Rosary followed and there were no doubt some nodding heads but prayer is essential even on, and I would say especially on a busy day.
                The talk after the rosary was given by Mr. Danniel Pribble about the necessity of making good confessions, something very linked to the message of Fatima.  It was a rough talk to give after all the enthusiastic exercise of the day but Mr. Danniel is not daunted by such things as tired boys and plowed right through to the end without losing a single one.
There was a game of Medieval Order after the talk led by Mr. Charles Sulzen.  The game is basically a representation of a medieval kingdom where every order of society is printed on the card that the players are holding.  The order starts with the king then moves on down through princes, dukes, nobles, knights, merchants…etc.  Each man has to stand up when called by a person above him in the circle and may not stand for those below him.  Those who mess up are sent to the end of the line and take the card of prisoner.  Each one must stay on his toes so as not to get bumped back to the end of the line by making a mistake.  The goal of the people lower down the line is to try to confuse those higher up the scale in order to move up the line when they make a mistake and are removed.
As the sun began to set we were able to watch fireworks from the nearby town while TFP members serenaded the group with music from trumpets, drums and bagpipes.  The dads as usual philosophized sitting on the front porch till the moon came out and the distant thunder of fireworks died down.  The boys waited till it got dark and then commenced a game of prison break which they played for about an hour.  I doubt that there will be any insomnia tonight.

Day 5 
Monday, July 5

Today was wakeup as usual to the sounds of bagpipes and drums followed by inspection, Credo and breakfast.  Breakfast was scrambled eggs and bacon.  Some of the boys commented at the table that they were so tired the night before from all the swimming that some were actually falling asleep while hiding from the guards during the late night game of prison break.  No wonder nobody here is waking up early, as is custom in several other camps, they are just plain tuckered out by the end of each day. 
Rosary in chapel followed breakfast and then there was a forty-five minute Chinese Shadow about an unrepentant knight who was converted through the prayers of a holy monk after a life of terrible crime and pride.  It is called the legend of the Little Barrel and the basic story can be found here  for those that wish to understand the plot.  This is a follow up to the talk on confession given by Mr. Danniel Pribble last night.
The fencing tournament tryouts continued today as the boys got a feel for each other’s mettle.  It is important to know what are the strengths and weaknesses of your potential opponents before you get into the real bouts of fencing since they tend to be very fast and there is little room for error.  Thankfully this year we have several Academy students with us who are very familiar with the art and we were even able to secure the help of the student who won gold medal for best form at the St. Louis de Montfort Academy fencing tournament.  All the Academy students have been tremendous assets.
Lunch was tacos and tortillas with a side of potato soup and Rice Krispies for dessert.  There were indoor organized games featuring both mafia and Medieval Order.  In other rooms there were tournaments being fought between camp participants.  Each camp we offer the possibility to win prizes by competing in games such as archery, ping pong and chess. 
Today was treasure hunt day.  The fathers spent a good part of the previous day preparing and hiding the clues for the hunt.  They walked several miles back and forth so it was an amazing treasure hunt.  It also gave the boys a chance to explore the entire property which they had not been able to do until now.   Although there were only five notes on each side, the game took participants several hours to complete.   There were numerous decoy notes attached to arrows and there were runners who tried to evade capture just to increase the excitement level.  There was also an entire decoy treasure box filled with candy wrappers floating in a canoe in the middle of lake to attract attention to itself.   After walking interminably around the camp, the treasure was finally located under the very table where all the fathers were congregated. 
Dinner was served at the normal time and there was a rosary procession afterwards with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima surrounded by four of the boy bearing torches.  After the rosary, there was a presentation about Saint Nuno Alvarez given by yours truly which explained the life of this amazing man.  Rather than bore you with the details, I will let the boys explain the story to you when they get home.  The boys were given a little time to memorize the Ten Commandments of Chivalry and then there was a competition to see who had the best delivery.  The winner is to be announced but there were so many amazing presentations that really stunned the judges it will be hard to decide.
The camp is quickly ending and the participants are starting to realize that their time together is limited.  Tomorrow is the Medieval Games and the excitement level is high in anticipation of the battles ahead.  Mr. Thomas Schnieder ended the program tonight with a short video on the Saint Louis de Montfort Academy which describes a day in the life of an Academy student.  I hope to meet all the parents of camp participants tomorrow and talk in person but for now I will sign off and try to rest up for the labors awaiting tomorrow.
In Jesu et Maria,
Michael C. Shibler

 St. John Cantius church in Chicago

 This is what happens wen it takes to long to line up in formation.

 The Dads setting up for the optical's  

 This cake is amazing

Bed rooms
 They had a surprise inspection of the rooms in the middle of the day.  All of the boys didn't pass

 This is what happens to those who don't pass,  pull up until they cant hold it any longer  

 Night time store
 We killed 6 bats

 Morning inspection