Register soon for summer youth programs

By Michele Chan Santos

The diocesan Office of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry has summer programs planned to help youth (pre-teens and teens) deepen their faith; help the needy; volunteer at local service agencies; attend youth-oriented worship services and get to know other Catholic kids and teens.
What makes these programs special is how they strengthen the faith of the children and teens who attend, said Tori Baker, one of the organizers of the Cross Training retreat for high school freshmen, which is held at Eagle’s Wings Retreat Center in Burnet.
“It’s more meaningful because it unites the Diocese of Austin global community,” Baker said. “You meet kids from all around Central Texas. I went to Catholic camps as a teen and they were very positive for me. I was able to see that it’s OK to be Catholic and that I can be proud of my faith. It’s special because you are surrounded by so many people who are Catholic and want to do the same things you do.”
For questions and information about any of these programs, contact Adrian Sanchez, administrative assistant for the Office of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry, (512) 949-2464 or
The following programs are all accepting campers at this time:
Servus Dei
When/where: June 19-21 at St. Austin Parish in Austin
Cost: $85 per child, $45 per adult chaperone (adults must be EIM compliant)
Age of participants: Incoming sixth through outgoing eighth graders
Register: Through your parish youth minister
What it is: Servus Dei is a three-day social justice adventure for young adolescents. The program provides prayer experiences and engaging learning activities based on the life of Jesus and Catholic social teaching. It also introduces young adolescents to service, which takes place at local agencies and centers that assist people in need, including the Capital Area Food Bank, Catholic Charities of Central Texas and Mobile Loaves and Fishes. Middle schoolers will spend Friday and Saturday night at St. Austin Parish.
“Servus Dei is high-energy,” said Morag Sell, the youth ministry coordinator for the program. “It’s a wonderful way for our young people to tap into their generosity. It gives them a practical, hands-on experience of caring for those who are less fortunate.” 
Servus Dei is a fairly short camp; therefore, it is a good choice for students who have not done this type of camp before. There is also a high adult to student ratio. Some of the chaperones are parents and others are youth ministers; all are EIM certified. There are still openings for chaperones.

Together Encounter Christ (TEC) Retreats
When/where: June 27-29 or Aug. 30-Sept. 1 at Eagle’s Wings Retreat Center in Burnet
Cost: $100, scholarships are available
Age of participants: Incoming high school juniors through young adults in their 20s
Register: Applications are available at 
What it is: TEC is a three-day overnight retreat hosted at Eagle’s Wings Retreat Center. Teens experience a fresh, faith-filled atmosphere away from home, school and work. Young people meet, reflect and share how they see themselves, their ideals and their hopes and dreams while finding God’s presence in their lives. TEC is a fun and spirit-filled retreat where young adults explore and deepen their faith. Weekends are filled with witness talks, group discussions, personal reflections, prayer, recreational activities and live music.

Cross Training
When/where: July 17-20, Eagle’s Wings Retreat Center in Burnet
Cost: $185 (includes accommodations, meals, supplies, T-shirt). Application and non-refundable deposit are due by July 3.
Age of participants: Incoming ninth graders. There is a limit of 65 participants, so register soon.
Register: Go to and search for “Cross Training”
What it is: “Cross Training is designed to prepare you for high school,” said Tori Baker, who is on the Cross Training committee. “It teaches you how to keep your faith through high school. It gives the students tools and leadership skills they can continue to use through the youth ministry at their home parishes.” 
Cross Training is an overnight camp designed specifically for incoming high school freshmen throughout the Diocese of Austin. This camp offers a great chance to meet new friends, see how God fits in with everyday life and learn how service can make a difference in the world. There will be presentations, prayer, service projects, worship and many social activities. 

Co-Ed High School Softball Tournament
When/where:  July 27 at McMaster Athletic Complex in Georgetown
Cost: $175 per team; the tournament can accommodate up to 14 teams. Parishes can bring as many teens as they like; some parishes enter two teams in the tournament.
Age of participants: High Schoolers –– incoming freshmen through graduating seniors can participate.
Register:  Through parish youth ministers
What it is: The annual co-ed high school softball tournament builds community through fun and fellowship among the youth of the Austin Diocese. Youth sign up for the tournament as part of their parish team. Each parish team will be randomly placed in one of two divisions: Angels or Saints. Each division will play round robin, and the tournament will conclude with an all-star game, Angels versus Saints. Each team will contribute one male and female player to their division’s all-star team. Teams must have an even number of boys and girls. 
The tournament has a friendly, relaxed atmosphere where each parish usually sets up a tent and barbecues between games. 
“It’s a lot of fun and a great way to meet teams from around the diocese,” said Logan Mayes, the tournament organizer and the youth minister at St. Thomas More Parish in Austin.

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