Diocese acquires camp facility

Totus Tuus camps are for young women and men. (Courtesy photo)

Help us name the new campground
In the coming weeks, the diocese will invite our Catholic community to submit ideas for names for the new camp. Start thinking about possible names and have your submissions ready to share later this month.

Late last year, with support from the One Family, Fully Alive in Christ! Campaign, the diocese purchased a camp property in Reno County. The 155-acre campground was secured under the asking price and plans are underway to complete basic renovations and maintenance needed to host Camp Totus Tuus at the new location this summer.

“Our hope is that this new camp will give people a place to go out into the wilderness and encounter Jesus,” said Anthony Keiser, director of the diocesan Office of Faith Formation. “In addition to Camp Totus Tuus, it’s exciting to think of the many ways our parishes, schools, and ministries will use this camp to help people grow closer to Christ.”

The Diocese of Wichita has acquired a 155-acre campground it hopes to develop for use by diocesan ministries, including Totus Tuus summer camps. (Courtesy photo)

The property is located just 65 minutes from downtown Wichita and features a spring-fed lake, 12 existing buildings, an amphitheater, walking trails, and other great amenities. It will be ideal for a variety of camp programs, days of recollection, retreats, and faith formation experiences for young people and families from across the diocese.

Diocesan leaders are working closely with an architect and camp consultant to develop a master plan and business plan for the camp over the coming months. Preliminary plans and conceptual drawings for the camp will be completed later this year. In the meantime, work is in progress to prepare the campground for this year’s Camp Totus Tuus.

Expanded capacity for Camp Totus Tuus

For many years, Camp Totus Tuus used a rented camp facility in Lyons, that could accommodate only 84 Totus Tuus campers per week. This year, at the new location, that number will increase to 128 per week, meaning that more than 300 additional campers will be able to attend Camp Totus Tuus over the summer. That is even before any new cabins are built. The expanded capacity at the new camp will greatly reduce the number of families left on the waiting list who have to be turned away due to lack of space.

“I’m thrilled that this new facility will allow us to serve even more children and families,” Keiser said. “Even with more capacity this year, Camp Totus Tuus sold out within just a few days. This is such a great sign for the future of our church.”

A life-changing experience for young people

Family and youth camp experiences, including Camp Totus Tuus, have impacted the lives of countless young people in our diocese, many of whom are drawn to the priesthood or religious life or recommit to living a life of faith after falling away for some time.

“Our campers and counselors are truly encountering the Lord in a unique and special way at camp,” said Abby Godfrey, a former camper and camp counselor. “I’ve seen it myself…this camp changed my life and brought me back to the church. It’s exciting to see what the Lord is going to do at this new camp.”

Camp Totus Tuus draws not only from metro Wichita but also from across the region. Over the last 15 years, more than 7,200 campers have attended the week-long overnight youth camp, with nearly a third coming from outlying parts of the diocese and some traveling from other states to attend.

Camp is vital

“This camp is a vital thing, a necessary thing, in a culture that is very nervous and anxious about quiet and separation and solitude,” said Fr. Drew Hoffman, a former counselor and priest of the Diocese. “With the new facilities, the potential to attract even more campers and shape their spiritual journeys becomes increasingly promising.”

In addition to the great memories and lifelong friendships, many campers and counselors experience an early call to the priesthood or religious life while there. More than 90% of diocesan seminarians have attended Camp Totus Tuus or served as a counselor at some point during their high school years.

“I went to Camp Totus Tuus as a counselor, and I experienced the Lord in a way I never had before and I experienced a call to the priesthood,” Fr. Hoffman said. “This camp bears fruit in so many ways, including in the many priestly and religious vocations that were nurtured or grew stronger as a result of the camp.”

Funds will renovate camp

Funds raised through the One Family, Fully Alive in Christ! Campaign will cover the cost to purchase the property, renovate existing facilities, clean up the grounds, and eventually build new cabins. In addition, an endowment will be established to help with ongoing maintenance and operations and to provide financial assistance to families in need.

To learn more about the new Family and Youth Camp and the other priorities of the One Family, Fully Alive in Christ! Campaign, visit OneFamilyFullyAlive.org.