Some of my fondest memories in life, are of attending various camps and jamborees. There is something about a week of camp with a bunch of other maniacal kids doing kid “stuff,” that leaves a vivid, powerful and lasting impression. I’m a forgetful guy, yet these memories stand out – even make me verklempt!
There is a sense of freedom – breaking away from all those stuffy rules at home – that comes with going to camp. Ironically, just like at home, there are plenty of rules at camp and there is plenty of supervision, but these newer rules revolve around FUN. I’d swap out “Don’t wear your shoes in the house!’ for “In a few moments, we’re going to hook up to an inner tube and you’re going to be screaming with delight – you MUST have your life preserver on.” any day of the week.
One of the places keeping this type of thing alive is Cathedral Camp on Freetown’s Long Pond – the largest natural body of water in Massachusetts. Originally a trolley-car picnic area called Lakeside Park in the early 1900s, the camp began in 1915 under Bishop Feehan of the Fall River Diocese, where it has remained a camp except for one year during World War II when it closed and was temporarily re-purposed as a military installation.
Camp Cathedral has all the races, archery, swimming, arts & crafts, boat rides, that you recall growing up and then some. Camp Cathedral has been doing this for girls and boys between the ages of 4 and 14 for almost a century now. Organizers maintain a perfect balance between fun, captivating and stimulating to body and mind, and being safe, organized, and supervised. Swing an inch into either direction at the cost of the other.
The camp accomplishes this balance in a variety of ways. A registered nurse is present at all times. All lifeguards are CPR and first-aid certified. Any child with special physical or sensory facility needs may be registered only after discussion with the camp administration. No child can be registered without a completed health history form and a recent immunization record certified by a physician or school nurse.
All potential staff must submit to criminal and sexual offender checks (CORI and SORI checks), be interviewed by the assistant director, and provide references. After these stipulations are met, each member then goes through rigorous pre-camp training. The vast majority of the staff are returnees: dedicated, experience regulars who were campers at Camp Cathedral and went on to their Counselor in Training Program and then become Counselors and continue to work at Cathedral Camp through college.
Licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Freetown (MA) Board of Health, the camp also follows all state and diocesan regulations and today is headed by director Very Reverend Gregory Mathias and Asst. Director. Mrs. Rena Lemieux. As a ministry of the Fall River Roman Catholic Diocese, Cathedral Camp strives to create an atmosphere in which Christian values are modeled by the way we treat one another and the environment in our everyday activities. They gladly uphold, even surpass these high standards.
OK, safe, secure, organized? Check. Parent’s concerns addressed? Check. Now, on to the part that the kids will care most about: tomfoolery, shenanigans, and fun! So, what type of activities will the little ones be participating in?
All boating, swimming, archery, arts & crafts, dance, music, outdoor adventures and other activities are broken up into five age groups, to best ensure the safest environment and one most conducive to fun. There are also camp-wide fun activities for each session, for example, Halloween in August, a kickball tournament, Spirit Week.
- Indians (Ages 4 & 5): The 4 and 5 year old age group will enjoy camping in their own tepee, plenty of games, story time, a supervised recreational swim in a shallow pen, tons of arts & crafts. The ratio of counselor to “Indians” is 1:5.
- Unit 1 (Ages 6 & 7): In this age group, girls and boys are separated. In addition, to many of the above activities, there will be plenty of water-sports, swimming lessons, boat rides dancing and field sports. The counselor to camper ratio is 1:8.
- Unit 2 (Ages 8 & 9): Unit 2 differs from Unit 1 by having all of unit 1’s activities plus boating, fishing and archery.
- Junior Camp (Ages 10 & 11): Junior campers get all the arts & crafts, outdoor adventures, boating, fishing, swimming, archery, and activities that the younger campers get, with the addition of sailing. The counselor to camper ration is 1:10.
- Senior Camp (Ages 12, 13 & 14): Seniors campers get all the arts & crafts, outdoor adventures, boating, fishing, swimming, archery, sailing and activities that the younger campers get, plus assisting counselors with younger campers to develop leadership skills and responsibility.
Does your child have a friend that is attending and they want to participate in these activities with them? Camp Cathedral will gladly do their best to accommodate them.
In addition to these activities, and no less important is the sharpening of social skills through making new friends, interacting with authority figures, and encountering certain rules and guidelines. Finally, the environment helps develop a healthy respect for, and deeper connection with nature.
All of these elements create a positive experience for the kids and the staff alike. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the kids to burn off that extra energy, develop and hone social skills, learn new skills, exercise their minds and bodies and most importantly to just have plain ol’ fashioned fun.
If you are interested in having your children attend this year’s session at Camp Cathedral, there will be eight, one week opportunities from June 27 to August 19, 2016. One of the best ways to get a preview of things to come, get questions answered and any concerns alleviated is through the open house on Sunday, June 12, 2016. Opening remarks begin at 1 p.m., and tours will follow until 3 p.m.. At this year’s open house, you can also throw your name into a hat and someone will win a free week of camp.
Campers are allowed to bring their own food or purchase food at the campsite. However, there is no refrigeration, so a cooler is suggested for those who will be bringing their own food. There is no charge for bus transportation, or before-and-after-camp care – it is included in the camp fee. The website has a list of this year’s sessions, fees, registration forms and more info here.
In addition to these eight sessions, the Cathedral Camp Retreat & Conference Center is a great venue for any outings that your church, organization, or school may have. Whether for workshops, overnight retreats, confirmation retreats, days of recollection or other special event, you have a venue for up to 71 overnight guests. Access to the facilities include a large auditorium, main dining room, several conference rooms, and of course, sleeping quarters.
There is nothing that defines coming-of-age than attending a camp: running, laughing, playing, swimming, ice pops, forming tighter bonds with old friends and creating new ones…simply creating powerful lifelong memories. I’m now in my mid-40s and if I was asked what the top ten best moments in my life were, camping memories would be some of the fondest. Your kids will absolutely love you for it now, and when they become adults they’ll still recall who was responsible for it.
If you would like more information, you can contact Camp Cathedral by phone at 508-763-8874 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
167 Middleboro Rd,
East Freetown, Massachusetts 02717
P.O. Box 428
Phone: (508) 763-8874
Camp runs from June 27 to August 19, 2016