By Molly Martin
When Andrew Bina attended the Totus Tuus camp for four years in high school, the camp’s motto was “in the business of changing lives.” Bina, a seminarian from Holy Family Parish, Pilsen, and director of this summer’s camp, says the motto still rings true.
“It’s sort of a beautiful thing to watch,” he said in a telephone interview. “With the fun in there and with the opportunity to get the sacraments and be in a place where you can live a Catholic lifestyle and see other people living their Catholic lifestyle – it just changes lives.”
Founded in 1996, Camp Totus Tuus is one of the few Catholic summer camps in Kansas. The week-long event of fun and fellowship allows participants to interact with other Catholic youth from around the diocese and immerse themselves in every facet of a Catholic lifestyle.
“I am sort of the opinion that Camp Totus Tuus is like a microcosm of a life well lived because we do everything to the max,” said Bina. “Totus Tuus means ‘totally yours.’ God came to earth and gave his all and he calls us to do the same. Totus Tuus is a structure within which you can learn to do that.”
Camp Totus Tuus, located outside of Lyons, structures itself around a mentor-based program. Campers partake in Eucharistic adoration, Marian devotion, catechetical instruction, and vocational discernment while enjoying the benefits of the campgrounds, such as the canoeing with a team of 10 college-aged counselors.
“We don’t have catechists, we have lived experiences that the counselors talk about,” said Bina. “They talk about their own experiences in prayer and their own experiences in high school, which the kids that show up are currently going through.”
That mentorship or discipleship, in addition to the sacraments, is the foundation of Camp Totus Tuus, he said.
Bina hopes campers take away “whatever God has to say to them.”
“Camp Totus Tuus is a loud place, we play a lot of fun games and we play loud music, we have a really good time,” he said. “But then there’s also a lot of opportunities to slow down in a way that you can’t in your normal life.
“In that silent time, God really has the opportunity to speak. My hope is that the campers are open to that – open to that silence – because God has something to say to everybody who shows up out there. Even me, the director, going into my seventh year – God has something to say to me and in the silence, I can hear it.”
Bina will use the silent reflections and his experience with Camp Totus Tuus to strengthen his formation when he returns to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, Mo., in the fall.
“You’re supposed to slow down and in the silence you listen to God speaking to you in terms of vocations,” said Bina. “Totus Tuus has a way of just like relighting the fire – it puts the fire in your belly and you just want to tell everybody how awesome the Faith is.”
“Every time I go back to seminary, I just get a real, strong desire to continue in formation,” continued Bina. “If God is calling me to the priesthood, the Faith is going to be my life in a very particular way and I’m going to be called to share the good news in new and varied ways – and Totus Tuus just gives me an excitement about that.”