Higher Calling Camp started in 2000 with 22 youth from 2 parishes, Saint James in McMinnville, Oregon and Our Lady of Lourdes in Vancouver, Washington. The following year we grew to 48 youth and 2 new parishes joined the other two, St. Boniface in Sublimity, Oregon and St. Thomas in Camas, Washington. Each year the camp continues to grow in numbers and in parishes participating.
When the camp first started it was just going to be something that two parishes did together each summer, but quickly we realized that we would be able to fill a need for the young Catholic Church. After year two we started inviting some parishes that did not have youth programs or were smaller in size to give them an opportunity to do something that their parish may not be able to offer to them.
The camp has always been about the youth and what once was a camp that had 22 youth has grown to as many as 200 in a week. What started as two parishes has grown to include youth from over 50 parishes from Oregon and Washington over the past 14 years. One of our former campers is currently in the Seminary, while others have gone on to serve in the church a Youth Minsters, and Religious Education Directors.
Fr. Terry O'Connell of Saint James Parish would come up one night a week and celebrate mass with the youth in the early years. In 2003 he brought up a newly ordained Deacon Sean Weeks to visit the camp, and at that camp he agreed to come back the following year after his ordination to be the Chaplain for the week. He kept his commitment and has been chaplain for 12 year. He has been joined by many Priests throughout the years, some who come for a day or two, while others stay the week. We are blessed to have these Priests offer us daily Mass and Reconciliation and Adoration of the Blessed Sacarament.
In the first few years the camp was co-directed by Mike Douglass of Saint James parish and Jim Mains of Our Lady of Lourdes parish. Mike has continued to serve as camp director.
Ed Cooney of St. Boniface parish in Sublimity was our first music leader at camp and as the camp grew he moved into the role of Assistant Director where he helped with the everyday running of the camp and directed the counselors and was known for his facilitating of one of the ropes events. He continued to serve in that role until 2009 just two months prior to his passing. In 2010 on the first day of camp a tree was planted next to the ropes event that Ed facilitated. We wanted to make sure that Ed had a lasting place at our camp.
The Higher Calling Camp has the great support of many parishes who send their youth ministers, parish priests and bring wonderful volunteers. 2020 will be our 21st year of doing Higher Calling Camp, and we are dedicated to making it the best year yet.