Jill Boughton
Freelance Writer
April 6, 2023 // Diocese

You Can Join the Fun at A Catholic Summer Camp Designed for the Whole Family

Jill Boughton
Freelance Writer

Instead of sending your children off to camp, how about making camp an experience for the entire family?

Catholic Familyland in Bloomingdale, Ohio, is a ministry of the Apostolate for Family Consecration. This Apostolate exists to convey a message of hope, the Fatima message: Our Lady wins, because the Holy Family has ultimate dominion in this world of growing darkness.  One of the simple principles the Blessed Mother revealed is that grandiose sacrifices aren’t the usual path to holiness: faith can sanctify even the most mundane aspect of daily living when it’s offered in love. Besides that, “You’re not alone! There are 100 other families as dedicated as your own.”

During each of seven week-long “Family Fests,” families stay on the grounds in everything from a primitive campsite to a well-equipped cottage, with ample opportunities to play and pray together. This summer’s theme is “Set Apart,” an opportunity for families to pursue holiness together. There is daily Mass, rosary and Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, reconciliation every afternoon, and adoration chapels open continuously. Catechesis is folded in with fun activities for every age group from 4 through teenagers of the Destiny Generation. For parents and young adults, there are top-notch keynote speakers and celebrants scheduled. Swimming and pickleball are available during the afternoon free time. Organized competitions range from chess to ultimate frisbee. Bonfires in the evening feature skits, songs, and testimonies. In 2022, Catholic Familyland hosted almost 5,000 people in more than 800 family groups.

High schoolers can spend the whole summer earning a chance at college scholarships by serving in the Service Corps, while there are also college and young adult Alumni Corps members whose main responsibility is to promote good conversation.

This will be the 7th consecutive summer that Paul and Brenda Harold bring their seven children, ages 5 to 18, to Catholic Familyland, but Brenda’s history is much longer. She first went in 1990 with her family. Living in northwest Ohio, “that was the only family vacation we ever took,” said Brenda.

In Steubenville, Ohio, where Paul grew up, people regarded the nearby Catholic Familyland as weird, so Brenda had a hard time persuading him to take their family for the first time in 2017. However, by the end of the week he was fully committed. “He’s been the driving force making sure we go back every year,” said Brenda. Going in 2020 was especially meaningful when the camp was able to continue despite Covid lockdowns due to the outdoor setting and being family-centered. Brenda exclaimed, “It was so good to be able to do something normal that summer, to take a break from all the negative messaging that was bombarding us!”

Every year, the Harolds have invited friends and fellow parishioners from St. Joseph Parish in Mishawaka, with usually one or two coming along. This year however, ten other families plan to join them for the last week of camp. One of their children was reluctant to go one year but left so eager to return that she joined Service Corps the following summer. Brenda finds it very affirming especially for teenagers to be surrounded by families and other youth for whom living their Catholic faith is normal. “Every year, when our time for going to Family Fest rolls around, we’re ready for that rejuvenating reset,” attests Brenda.

For more information about Catholic Familyland and all of the camps, visit their website at afc.org/catholic-family-vacation/.

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.