Approximately 25 grandchildren, their grandparents and parents in the Wichita Diocese learned about many of the foundational themes from Theology of the Body at a three day “Grand Camp” coordinated for the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kansas. Our grandparent camp counselors employed the new curriculum, ROOTED from Ruah Woods Press to convey beautiful teachings through stories, crafts, and games. All grand-counselors were introduced to and received some of the fundamental themes of Theology of the Body on a level they could easily comprehend along with their grandchildren.

The Genius of the ROOTED Curriculum

All of the lessons in the ROOTED Theology of the Body Curriculum are put together with the child’s developmental level and natural curiosity in mind, helping them to discover, in accordance with their maturity, what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God. Each unique and unrepeatable child is created out of love, to love, as God loves. With the help of Ruah Woods Press, we adopted some lessons to suit our format of a two-hour time frame each day of the camp.

The Child and the Catechist

Many have attempted to unpack the Theology of the Body teachings for adults and young people for a number of years. What Ruah Woods Press has done with their K-12 curriculum, ROOTED, is unprecedented in helping children to draw upon their imagination to come into contact with the mysteries of the faith. Through familiar experiences, children not only encounter a transformation within themselves, but also in the world around them.

Furthermore, because the primary focus of each lesson is the child and his/her relationship with God, we as the catechists were there to allow the space for that to take place. This can only happen if we have an attitude of humility in realizing that we have a privileged place as witnesses.

Stories are Powerful

Children are naturally drawn to remembering stories. They revel in hearing them again and again. Stories have the ability to capture truth in a way that a child can be invited into thinking more deeply about. Choosing classic children’s literature that kids may already know, lends itself to a more meaningful awareness, facilitating deeper understandings when accompanied with Ruah Woods’ creative educator guides.

We divided our campers into three groups, grades K-2, 3–5, and 6-8. In the youngest age group, we used the story “Blueberries for Sal”. Children learned how different each animal is and that each species has a mother matched best with that corresponding baby. We also read “An Egg is Quiet” and talked about God’s design for nature within animals that hatch from eggs. We made various colors of paint with egg yolks and painted our eggs. Next, we read a “Tiny Seed” book and talked about the marvel of trees and plants grown from seeds. More crafts we did included tissue paper animals and making our footprints out of paint. We concluded on the last day with “The Quiltmakers Gift” and discovered that authentic happiness is found in giving ourselves away to others in love.

The opportunity to explore the 3-5 grade curriculum from Ruah Woods Press provided an excellent experience for our middle tier Grand Campers.  We used the stories, “St. George and the Dragon,” “Peppe the Lamplighter” and “Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters” as catalysts to introducing the virtues.  Daily art activities including the dragon of vices and the shield of protection gave the campers the opportunity to express themselves and to reinforce the learning points.  Each class involved some physical activity like a scavenger hunt for virtues and a visit to the Adoration Chapel at the Spiritual Life Center.  Additionally, these campers each took home a copy of one of the saint cards provided in the materials.  The curriculum is a beautiful expression of the Theology of the Body and a great way to encourage the TOB to be integrated and internalized.

For the middle school children who participated in our “GrandCamp,” we adapted lessons from the ROOTED Curriculum’s work of literature, “D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths” along with the accompanying Teacher’s Guide. Our sessions invited the children and adults to look more closely at mankind’s universal search for God and what we can know through God’s revelation of Himself. The themes for each of these days with our older campers were: Creation as Gift, Gift of Self and Virtue.

A Call for More

 The beauty, truth and goodness about humanity and all creation, as viewed through God’s love, purpose, and design, resonated within the hearts of everyone involved. Gratitude and a desire to delve into understanding more were expressed…

  • One grandchild said “Grandma this is so much fun, why is it only three days?”
  • Another parent said “Thank you for doing this for our families.”
  • Many children didn’t want this experience to end, we heard many say “This was really cool, can we come back tomorrow.”

 

Written by,

Sharon Witzell
Program Coordinator Senior Adult Ministries
Office of Marriage and Family Life
424 North Broadway | Wichita, Kansas 67202

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