By Kaelanne Jordan
A vacation of fun and growth.
That’s exactly how the Companions of the Transfigured Christ (CTC) summed up its first teen camp for boys and girls aged 13-17 which ran for two weeks from August 2 and ends on Friday 12.
Advertised as a teen camp centred around fun and games but also about growth and development in a “positive, inspiring environment”, with the “right kind of facilitators and the perfect blend of activities”, CTC community member Fr Mikkel Trestrail told Catholic News the idea to host this camp arose because the Community felt this particular age group feels “very disconnected” and “they really need to reconnect with others, God and themselves.”
The 16 camp participants were teens from the East, West and boys from Marian House. The venue was Providence Girls’ Catholic Secondary School.
Under the theme: Restore, Reimage and Celebrate YOUth, teens were exposed to dynamic and engaging facilitators, spirituality for teens, character development, career guidance workshop, personal skills building, music and song, sports, and field trip during Week 1 (August 2–5) and Week 2 (August 8–12).
Fr Trestrail mentioned Catholic Commission for Social Justice’s Darrion Narine presented on a workshop titled ‘Youth, Justice and Advocacy’ “which was very good.” Other workshops were given on ‘Youth and Conflict Resolution’, ‘Identity, Self-Awareness’ and ‘Spirituality’.
On Wednesday (August 10), a barber and spa owner spoke to the participants on the importance of grooming and hygiene.
“So, we try to take care of youth on a level of spirit, body, and mind. We try to be holistic in everything we do. Even in simple things like the sports …We do affirmations to help build up their confidence. The coach, I was observing him with the girls, and he would encourage them to be a queen,” Fr Trestrail said.
He mentioned he had the teens view Toy Story 4 to which he illustrated how the three themes: Restore, Reimage and Celebrate were applicable to their lives. The camp participants were also exposed to “injections of affirmations” and morning devotions.
Fr Trestrail spoke of a field day trip to Mount St Benedict which allowed the teens to interact with the Abbot and monks and encourage their prayer life.
He shared the story of a participant who saw the camp experience as an opportunity for self-reflection.
“And that is something they did not expect but something they are very grateful for. And actually, that child in particular wasn’t coming back in the second week but chose to come back. It’s been having that kind of impact,” Fr Trestrail said.
He told Catholic News that in his involvement with the Community, he observed youth need to be more involved in areas of spirituality, communication, management of emotions and confidence, especially as it relates to their body and identity.
Commenting on the work of CTC, Fr Trestrail explained the work of the CTC is centred on inviting individuals and families to experience restoration, reimaging and celebrating via various workshops, retreats, and programmes.
“Regarding restoration, we host various workshops to help people to experience restoration in their life: healing the father wound, healing the mother wound, self-esteem. We also do a lot of reimaging work, helping people see themselves and their relationships different. We have retreats like ‘Please understand me’ for couples that we are running right now where we have couples to see themselves and each other differently in order to strengthen their relationship. And we do that through counselling…and spirituality sessions.”
CTC also oversees a discernment group for young adults “who are trying to see what the Lord might be asking of them.”
Fr Trestrail explained the Community believes in affirming and celebrating what is good whether it be in their families and within themselves, hence “celebration is important to us. That’s why fun is really important to us because we really want to help people increase in gratitude and being able to celebrate the now.”
Questioned on future plans, Fr Trestrail said the Community hopes to do more work with teens next year. He alluded to an expansion to the age range “if we get enough volunteers and support” to run another age group simultaneously.
He hoped this year’s camp participants would come away knowing they are loved by God and by others around them. “…that they are good, and you don’t have to prove yourself. You are good just the way you are and worthy of love and celebration… We pray they see the light in themselves, and they can share that light in their families and schools … in the world as well.”
The Companions of the Transfigured Christ’s mission is to assist men of the Archdiocese of Port of Spain to fully participate in living out their baptismal call. CTC was founded August 6, 2000 (Feast of the Transfiguration) by Kyle Dardaine, Shad Seaton, and Fr Trestrail. The Community is involved in ministry to primarily men and their families, psychospiritual work with individuals and groups, retreat work, preaching and teaching, and youth and young adult ministry.