In the land of Captivenia, a haven nestled deep in the woods, young girls become women of God.
Captivenia, a Catholic girl’s summer camp designed to cultivate the beauty of the feminine heart, hosted 98 girls in the rugged and majestic setting of Britton Ranch (south of Calgary, Alberta,) this past year. The theme of this year’s “Festival of Maidens” was: “Trusting Hearts, soaring in His grace.” Contributing their gifts and time to the camp as team members, were 37 young women, (including 2 consecrated,) 2 priests, 19 mothers, and 15 who came as day volunteers.
The Captivenia formation team is comprised of many dynamic individuals with various skill sets and an unfailingly whole-hearted love for Christ and his church. The mothers of the girls attending the camp generously volunteer their service by working behind the scenes with many of the practical details, while the young women on team provide a solid leadership example to the girls with their joy and love for God! The Bellesera (counsellors ages 13-16) look up to these ladies as role models, and it reflects in their enthusiasm to grow in their ability to guide others; the young Maidens (campers ages 9-12) in particular. Some of the young women on team work directly with the Bellesera in order to put this enthusiasm into action, helping them to lead and run the camp under their patient mentorship.
This past year, some imaginative team members created theatrical scenes from a developed storyline, emphasizing the theme of trust. This allowed the girls to truly practice the virtue, forming their own convictions in the process. The Bellesera led the maidens through the adventure! Together, they used their feminine gifts to overcome the challenges posed throughout the ongoing plot. Gabrielle Raymond, one of the young team members, shared her thoughts on the storyline of Captivenia: “The storyline portrayed the beauty of the feminine heart in a new way, and our identities as daughters of God really shone through. I’ll never forget running into battle alongside my sisters shouting “Who are we? Daughters of the King!”
Alongside the leadership formation and the storyline, the girls enjoy a wide range of activities and adventures which take place throughout the week; a Royal Spa, missions in the forest, Capture the flag, and horseback riding, to name a few. Archery tag, using foam-tipped arrows, was an especial hit among the Bellesera during their five-day leadership training. And at the very end of the week, wearing lovely dresses that they’ve picked out for the occasion-or even made themselves- the girls and walk into a banquet that signifies the generosity and love the King bestows on his faithful. This, particularly, is a moment that the girls love and anticipate all week.
Perhaps the most profound thing about Captivenia, however, is that it creates the perfect setting for each and every girl to encounter Christ and experience his love. Through daily mass, adoration, or even the songs that are constantly being sung by the girls as they go from one adventure to the other, the King is present in a tangible way. One can almost see the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of all who are there. Looking back, Nadia Rhodes, assistant director of Captivenia, commented: “Something that was especially beautiful was often throughout the day, when I stopped in the chapel, there would be several Team and even Bellesera, sitting on the floor before Our Lord. The beautiful witness of their pure love and trust in Jesus renewed hope and gave joy to the heart! This is the ‘why’ which drives the mission and apostolate.”
Founding director, Valerie Doran, remarked: “Truly, the camps (Captivenia and Arcatheos for the boys) are a way of evangelizing to the whole family. Not only does it impact each child who goes, quite often the mothers (of Captivenia) or fathers (for Arcatheos) join in the background to create something amazing for their kids. At the same time, they have their own moments for meditations with the legionary priests; they gain so much from the community aspect, working together with other parents who also want their kids to grow in their love for Jesus and leadership!”
Captivenia truly is a place from which the light of Christ radiates, and it is a sure thing that no heart that enters through its gate is untouched by the joy and beauty that is found there.
For more information on the camps, please visit www.captivenia.com