Life Teen Summer Camp re-ignites teens’ spiritual sparks with the real presence of Christ

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Hundreds of teenagers from throughout New Zealand enjoyed Life Teen Summer Camp last month, with a memorable theme to reflect upon – “the real presence”.

Activities co-ordinator Thomas Dravitzki said that the planning team was “delighted” with the turnout this year, with nearly 200 youngsters turning up.

“We had 197 teenagers, 40 chaperones, and 63 summer missionaries/volunteers attend, for a total of 300 participants.”

Life Teen Summer Camp began in 2015 with around 19 campers. Mr Dravitzki says that the numbers have increased year on year.

International Catholic speaker Maggie Craig flew from California (USA) to speak to the young people, and explore the theme further.

She’s an internationally acclaimed full-time Catholic speaker. She brought with her a deep love of Jesus, a passion for seeing young people transformed by the gospel, and a great sense of humour,” Mr Dravitzki said.

“The response from the teenagers was excellent. They brought an energy and enthusiasm to camp that meant they were highly engaged, had lots of fun, and most importantly were able to grow in their Catholic faith and relationship with Jesus.”

Mr Dravitzki said that the theme this year was awesome, and was all about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, in oneself, other people and the community.

“The teenagers engaged with this theme to not only learn that God is real, but also deeply present, as seen in the sacraments, people around us, and especially the Eucharist.”

Teenagers enjoyed messy games (always a favourite, said Mr Dravitzki), low ropes, resistance games, sensory prayer exercises, daily Mass, reconciliation, adoration, chapel times, parish korero, praise and worship, workshops and our main teaching sessions.

Eighteen-year-old Victoria Arrowsmith from Whanganui got a lot out of the camp, including knowing and trusting in the presence of God.

“Before I came to camp, I sometimes struggled to feel the presence of God, but I now realise that we don’t have to feel it to know he’s there. The presence of God isn’t limited to only Mass, but everywhere in the simple things in everyday life; like the wind and the faces of those around us.”

Another camper, 15-year-old Mavicle Auva’a from St Mary’s in Papakura, said that she enjoyed last year’s camp, and wanted to catch up with the people she met at the last gathering.

“To be honest I just wanted to see the people from last year, and [I attended] for spiritual reasons. I have really enjoyed getting to know Jesus more and deepening my faith. A highlight was adoration, I really loved sitting there in the presence of Jesus, I really felt the Holy Spirit.

“I will take home a love for Jesus. I was a bit spiritually weak coming into camp, but coming out after adoration and praise and worship has really helped strengthen my bond with Jesus.”

The camp was traditionally held in Forrest Lakes Christian Camp in Ōtaki, north of Wellington. However, the camp was cancelled in 2021 and 2022 due to Covid-19. The planning team decided to move the camp to the Hamilton region thereafter.

“We brought it back for the first time last year in 2023 at St Peter’s [in Cambridge] and we held it again at St Peter’s this year.”

Mr Dravitzki said that the site suited the needs of the camp.

“It made a lot of sense from a health and safety and logistics perspective, because we’ve been able to have a site unlike Festival One [4-day Christian-music festival] last year that got rained [out] during Cyclone Gabrielle. But on our site we’ve got functioning toilets, we’ve got all of the facilities and security and surveillance, and all those sorts of things.”

The camp ran from January 16-20, and was organised by the Catholic youth offices of Auckland and Hamilton dioceses.

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NZ Catholic contributor

Reader Interactions


  1. Dr.Cajetan Coelho says

    The up coming youngsters are the future torch-bearers of their families, communities, societies, and their nations. Life Teen Summer Camps are fine initiatives.