Boy Scouts find fun and faith at first Catholic Camporee in South Carolina

CHERAW — Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts from across the state assembled at Camp Coker for a weekend of outdoor activities and instruction Oct. 13-15. They fired rifles, shot arrows, paddled canoes, learned to tie knots, practiced realistic first-aid and slept in tents. The only difference from a normal camporee was that it was sponsored by the Diocese of Charleston’s Catholic Committee on Scouting and had a religious aspect.

Jim Weiskircher, committee chairman, was pleased with the success of the first-ever Catholic scouting weekend in the state. He and his staff designed a special patch for the event, showing a chalice and the Eucharist in the center against a rich purple background.

Skies were clear and blue that weekend, and the energy of the youngsters matched the brilliance of the weather. Assistant scoutmaster James Hansen was pleased with the crowd and their enthusiasm.

“Just being able to see all these Catholic scouts in South Carolina getting together for scouting activities was great,” Hansen said.

Scouts Matthew DeAngelis, 11, and Daniel Landry, 13, liked the events offered to the boys, even if the weekend meant sleeping rough.

“It was a little uncomfortable, but I liked it, especially the rifle shooting,” DeAngelis said.

In addition to traditional activities, the Catholic Camporee offered a religious station that was calculated to “promote an awareness of Christian life through the activities of scouting,” according to Weiskircher.

Scout Freddy DeAngelis, 14, said that he was able to find a measure of peace over the weekend.

“Scouting gives you a chance to learn more about the world and your faith. Scouting and Catholicism are a good combination,” DeAngelis said.

Father David Michael, a Boy Scout himself and now a diocesan priest, celebrated Mass outdoors on Saturday afternoon.

The camporee officials presented religious badges at a ceremony following the service and took the opportunity to participate in VIRTUS training, a program to help protect children from sexual abuse.

The younger scouts — Cub Scouts — competed in a tug-of-war, made crafts, and built and fired a giant slingshot. The Boy Scouts also engaged in a spirited competition of outdoor skills and cooked their own campfire meals. The 191 scouts cleaned up and were inspected following a Sunday morning awards presentation program.

Before noon, the scouts were on their way home in all directions, tired but satisfied after a successful Catholic Camporee.