By involving girls in mediaeval images and stories Camp Captivenia aims to help them embrace their call to be a light in the world and to be the leaders of tomorrow.
Young Catholic girls who want to grow in their faith and have fun in a mediaeval setting now have a place of their own to go.
Captivenia, a Catholic camp run on the scenic Britton Ranch near Turner Valley, offers girls aged nine to 12 a week packed with physical and spiritual activities in a mediaeval setting.
Participants follow an exciting theatrical storyline and their journey includes horseback riding, leatherwork, archery, water balloon launchers and a magnificent mediaeval banquet.
Captivenia, which means captivating grace, was inspired by another Catholic mediaeval camp named Arctheos, where boys and men draw swords to fight evil and prove their strength as true sons of God. Both camps use the same property and facilities.
"Captivenia's mission is to help girls embrace their baptismal call to be a light in the world," says camp director Karen Doran, a young actor and Catholic teacher living in Whitecourt. "Our hope is that all who attend will know and experience Christ in a fun mediaeval setting."
Captivenia will help participants grow in their Catholic faith and "discover their irreplaceable role in transforming the world around them."
Both the girls and boys camps are affiliated with Regnum Christi, an approved apostolic movement of the Church recognized by the Holy See. Regnum Christi's mission is to love Christ, serve others and build the Church.
This is the third year Captivenia has been active. The first year it operated on the property of Our Lady of Victory Camp and had 60 participants and 40 Bellesera.
Bellesera, which means beautiful ladies, are trained camp counsellors aged 13 to 16.
"The idea is to form these young girls into leaders for tomorrow," Doran explains. "When you start them (as counsellors) at that age, it gives them a sense of purpose and understanding of the gifts that they have been given and how they can use them to serve Christ."
Captivenia moved to the Arctheos Camp property last year and had 80 participants and 36 counsellors. This year 85 participants and 40 counsellors are expected at the camp, which will run from Aug. 13 to 18. The bellesera arrive Aug. 9 for training and stay until Aug. 18.
Doran said the camp's main purpose is "to bring young girls to a place to experience Christ's love, specifically through their feminine heart."
Participants will experience Christ's love at the camp and will learn how to use their God-given gifts and talents to bring Christ to others in their capacity as young women, she said.
Participants follow a mediaeval storyline during their stay at the camp. "Everything is designed in the storyline for the young girls to basically seize certain objectives or obstacles that enable them to grow in their virtue," Doran explained.
"Everything revolves around virtue and every year we have specific virtues that we have chosen to exemplify through the storyline."
The young girls step into a real life story when they come to Captivenia. "They enter from their world into the world of Captivenia through one of the gates and when they come through they enter into a land that has its own life," Doran explained.
"(In the world of Captivenia) there is a marketplace, there are villagers walking around, castles, a royal court and customs of the land. Everything in this world is parallel to the story of Christ and his people. It's like they are living out a story that parallels the whole understanding of Christ and his people."
Activities like leather work are encouraged at the camp because it teaches the girls perseverance. They make leather items that they will use during the week.
There is also archery and horseback riding at the camp. The girls also go on missions like treasure hunts or other tasks that help them advance the storyline.
Girls who have been at the camp before say they love how the storyline grows every year, Doran said. Those who came back last year stepped into the second chapter to the story. If they come back this year, they are going to live the third chapter.
Arctheos, the boys' camp, operates in a similar way. "Every year we trust that God will provide the next chapter to the story."
Team members and those who play characters wear costumes. The girls attending the camp wear Captivenia shirts, which is basically the camp uniform.
In keeping with the mediaeval theme, the girls sleep in large tents on individual cots. The only buildings in the camp are a castle and a chapel. The food is catered and brought into Captivenia.
Captivenia and Arctheos are like a family operation. Doran's brother, Brian, is the director of the boys' camp.
Arctheos has been operating for 10 years and attracts over 200 people a year, including counsellors. "We are stopping at 80 to 85 but eventually we'll most likely expand to allow 40 more girls to come," Doran said.
To learn more about the camp and to register go to www.captivenia.com.