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A Retreat with a Purpose

By Tom Gattuso- Program Coordinator

Ozark, IL:  Our motto at Camp Ondessonk is, “teaching what matters most.” It is evident that camp excels at using the rustic out of doors experience to teach young and old alike about resilience, confidence, communication, self-esteem, courage, perseverance and so much more. These are the things that “matter most” to be sure and camp has found the winning formula when it comes to their instruction. There is one thing, however, we do not currently offer in the way of programmed activities and that is a retreat curriculum based around the tradition of our Catholic Faith. Several weekend groups do use Camp Ondessonk for retreats, but they provide their own spiritual programming leadership, as opposed to calling on our program department.  That will soon change.

Retreat with a purpose

Photo by Dr. Christopher Wangard

Each retreat will contain two vital elements. The first element includes the actual faith based sessions. These are sessions that will focus on the knowledge of and relationship with the church and our God. An example of one of these sessions is called Faces of Jesus, which will give participants a chance to contemplate what God and the church mean to them in their lives. Another example of faith based sessions is the Solo Hike. This session will get the participants out onto a short trail.  The hikers will find thought provoking quotes and pictures to reflect on. At the end, they will journal about their experience.

The second element of the curriculum will focus on teamwork. These sessions are designed to be challenging and a whole lot of fun. Each group will find themselves working together to compete tasks that will challenge their skills in various areas. Fire building challenge is one example. The team will be given 8 matches and nothing else. They will then have to build a fire and burn through a piece of twine hanging approximately 6 to 8 inches above the ground.

The combination of these two curriculum elements – faith sessions and group challenge sessions, will create a unique and impactful experience while holding true to the Camp Ondessonk way of doing things. As always, we are striving to better ourselves and bring new and innovative curriculum to our participants. This curriculum, we hope, will also allow us to address an audience not adequately reached in the past – specifically, youth groups and those seeking a place to hold or facilitate a Confirmation retreat. These elements of curriculum create a powerful way to teach what matters most.

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