When I was in high school, one of the highlights of every summer was going away to C.A.M.P.S., a weeklong Catholic retreat where I’d get to escape from it all, see all my friends and just immerse myself in a spiritual community unlike any I’ve ever encountered elsewhere.
Between the speakers, the music, the competitions or the conversations people struck up over dinner, C.A.M.P.S. was an unbelievably powerful experience and a major influence on my life. Even to this day, some of my closest friends are people whom I first met at C.A.M.P.S.
Many of those people were also from Amesbury, and I have to admit that almost everything I knew about Amesbury before being hired by The Daily News last summer came from my periodic visits from Reading, usually to grab some ice cream from Hodgies.
The reason why I bring all of this up is because I know there are many Amesbury residents who can relate to my experience. C.A.M.P.S. has had a strong presence in Amesbury for many years — dozens of local youth go every summer — and this past weekend over 350 campers and staff members from over the years gathered at the Holy Family Parish Hall in Amesbury to celebrate the ministry’s upcoming 30th anniversary.
At its core, C.A.M.P.S., which stands for Christ As My Personal Savior, is a ministry dedicated to bringing high school youth closer to Jesus while fostering a Christian community that allows that personal relationship to flourish. It was first started in the summer of 1984 by youth minister Maureen Mulcahy and Father George Morin, now the pastor of Holy Redeemer Church in Merrimac and West Newbury, and has been held annually every year since.