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Life Teen Camp


July 5 - 10 | Week 5

Host: Phil Baniewicz

Phil Baniewicz is currently the President / Headmaster at Maur Hill-Mount Academy, a nationally recognized, Catholic prep boarding school in Atchison, Kansas (he is also the head baseball coach of the 2015 League and Regional champs). He is the co-founder of Life Teen, one of the largest Catholic youth ministry programs in the world, which began in 1985. During his time as the president/CEO of Life Teen, the organization grew from one parish to worldwide. Phil is married to his beautiful wife, Lisa, and they have five amazing children - Miranda, Noah, Madeline, Hope, and Abigail. Although he likes all kinds of sports and playing music, if given the choice, he would rather go on a date night with his wife, throw a ball with his son, or watch his daughters perform home-made dance shows. Most of all, he just wants to be a faithful follower of Christ, a great husband, and dad who loves his kids.

Camp Covecrest

Camp Covecrest is a Catholic summer camp set in the mountains of North Georgia. It’s a place where parish youth groups from all over the country come together to experience summer camp at its best. Teens are given the opportunity to dive deeply into their Catholic faith and strengthen their relationship with Christ while having unforgettable experiences.

Week 5 Final Video

Day 1

So here we are! We have come from all across the country and now have gathered as a Life Teen community here at Covecrest. As we come together, we understand that we are made for community. It’s how God designed us… to fit together as one body in Christ. We come from different places and experiences to this mountaintop experience here at Covecrest. It is the same way people gather for Mass in our parishes – we come from different “places,” yet we gather around the altar to celebrate Eucharist together every Sunday. As I mentioned in my talk, I had amazing and hilarious experiences with my neighborhood group/gang. We bonded because of sharing life together, and even to this day when we run into each other, someone will mention the movies we used to make, the sports and games we played, and the good ole’ times we had in the cul-de-sac. However, it was those school friends of mine that really impacted my life. They are the ones that invited me to church and began walking the journey with me. And I am grateful to them to this day for making such a difference in my life. How about you? What groups or communities have the greatest impact on your life? Why?

 As we explore our “Glorify” theme this week, take some time to look at your own life. Will you glorify the Lord with your life, allowing him to shine through you. Or will you seek your own glory, desiring that others recognize you instead of God? Remember, God created each of us to reflect his glory to the world. So instead of using the gifts God gave us to gain attention and glory for ourselves, let’s use them to allow the light of Christ to shine through us to the world.

 Remember, this is only the first day of the camp. We have a long journey ahead of us. Now that we have gathered together, let’s jump on the Glory train and move ahead!

Today's Top Shots:

Day 2

There is a war going on. The battle has raged for thousands of years. Although we know the end of the story, it seems we continue to let the wrong side have the upper hand in our lives. Of course, I’m talking about the war between good and evil. God and Satan. Light and darkness. We’ve already been told that to God goes the victory. Yet in our own lives, we continue to cave in to Satan and fall into sin.

 The difference between dark and light seems big. If you walk into a dark room, you know it. If you then walk outside and the sun is shining, the difference is obvious. However, even when a little light shines in a dark room, you begin to see things more clearly. Maybe you can’t see everything truly as it is, but you can start making out shapes and your mind then fills in the blanks. That’s not bad, but if you are in that dimly lit room and see a pizza with what looks like sausage on it, you are expecting to taste that when you take your first bite. But when your taste buds get lit up with the taste of anchovies instead, it’s no wonder your gag reflex takes over. You see, it’s better for us to see things as they truly are. We need the Light of the World to light our life. So when we allow the Prince of Darkness (Satan) to hide, twist or manipulate things in our life, we fall into sin. Sometimes serious sin that completely breaks our relationship with God. Thank God that’s not the end of the story.

 God’s mercy will always trump darkness and sin. What a gift the sacrament of reconciliation is! Ahhhh. Don’t you feel like a weight was lifted off your shoulders after going to confession last night? God has lit up your life and wants you to see yourself, the world, and sin as they truly are. Nothing hidden in the dark. He calls us to be children of light! May we rejoice, for our merciful God has forgiven our sins, opened our eyes, and set us back on the right path!

Today's Top Shots:

Day 3

“OUCH! That hurt… AAAhhhh, that was nice. I haven’t felt this good in a while!” At first, you might think these are things you might hear at a chiropractor’s office. But that’s not the reason for these responses. Actually, these words are said after no physical contact. This is the impact someone else’s words can have on another person. What I mean is, we can feel all different kinds of emotions from WORDS. Someone can say something mean and it hurts. Another can say something affirming or positive and it can lift us up out of the dumps. Words can be powerful. As we talked about tonight, words impact us because we are made in God’s image. And if he himself is “the word made flesh,” then words themselves are going to have power. Words can give direction, describe, provide insight, and identify things or experiences. In particular, God’s word, the Bible, will give us all of these to provide us with direction and purpose for our lives.

Isn’t it great knowing that the God of the universe cared about you so much that he didn’t just give you life and leave you on your own? He left a map/instruction booklet/ love story for you to read to help you out daily. The Holy Scriptures are critical for us if we are to have a strong relationship with God. We get to know him better by hearing what he has to say. I know sometimes Catholics shy away from the Bible because they feel like they don’t have any of it memorized or aren’t sure where to begin. Well, if you go to Mass every Sunday, you hear more scripture than you realize. The entire first half of the Mass is called “the Liturgy of the Word” and consists of four different bible readings every Sunday. There is usually a reading from the Old Testament, the New Testament, a Psalm, and one of the Gospels. And if that isn’t enough scripture for you in our “Catholic worship,” did you realize that many of the words spoken throughout the Mass are scripture quotes? Take a look sometime. We are rooted in scripture in our community worship. What you and I need to make sure of is that individually we are diving into the scriptures.

I want to challenge you for the rest of this camp and for when you go back home to commit to reading and praying the scriptures at least four times a week. Just 10-15 minutes at a time is enough. Try “lectio devina” like we did at Covecrest. You will find the Lord speaking to you with His word and guiding you. Don’t be surprised when he gives you a clear answer to something you are dealing with in your life through a specific scripture you read that very day! Our living and loving God is guiding you right now. Take the time to listen to him through his word.

Today's Top Shots:

Day 4

Have you ever been in love? Or, have you ever got caught up in “playoff fever” when your local sports team made a run deep into the playoffs? I bet if you have experienced either one of these, you found yourself caught up thinking about them all the time. You spent time talking with your friends about the team’s starting lineup or your crush’s perfect smile. Morning, noon, and night you watched everything about your team’s chances in the big game. You read articles about the player’s lives and what kind of food they liked. For me, that just happened last year with the Kansas City Royals. For me and everyone else in the Kansas City area, it was “all Royals, all the time.” And I loved every minute of it. My entire family went down to the stadium for game seven of the World Series, even though we didn’t have tickets! Why? Because we had caught the fever.

 For us as Christians, we are called to have that kind of passion for Christ. The scriptures call us to “pray without ceasing.” Since prayer is really a relationship with God, then we are being invited to be in constant relationship with him. To pray morning, noon, and night. Maybe it’s a rosary while driving to school. Singing and praising God with worship music while in your room in the morning. Praying the scriptures before going to bed. Going to a daily Mass. Saying a prayer before meals and tests. Inviting others to join you in prayer before every game and practice. Whatever the case, I hope you “catch the fever” and daily find yourself staying in constant contact with Jesus. May the Holy Spirit set you on fire with his love so that you desire to pray without ceasing!

 As we experienced last night in XLT and adoration, posture can help you in prayer. Just like any athlete will show you the best position to be in to be successful in different sports, we need to realize that posture can help us in our prayer as well. There are different postures you can take in prayer, but as a teenager in today’s world, I want to encourage you to take a posture of openness. It starts with your heart being open, but it can include your hands open before you on your lap, or even raised high in joyful expectation of the Spirit touching you. Your entire body should reflect the posture of your heart towards Jesus in the Eucharist. When you open yourself up to Jesus, he will fill you with his Holy Spirit and you will then reflect the Light of Christ to others!

Today's Top Shots:

Day 5

It’s time. You have spent the past week here at Covecrest, having fun, building relationships, conquering the outdoors (at least trying), and growing closer to Christ. Now your time here is over. However, your real mission is just beginning.

 Have you ever watched spy movies? You know – the gadgets, the chase, the danger, the mission. That’s right, the MISSION. Well, I’m not going to give you digits to identify you (007, agent 99, Oceans 11, etc.), but I am going to send you out with a mission.

 You see, since you were baptized into life with Christ, you have been given a mission that’s not top secret. It is a mission that is for the entire world to know. God calls YOU to spread the Good News to the earth. Practically, that means you need to go home and live out the Gospel in your home, at your school, and in your community. You need to do the little things (clean up, help the needy, visit the sick) and the big things (preaching the Gospel to teens who don’t know God, standing up for injustice, fighting for the rights of the unborn, loving enemies with compassion). I wish I could tell you that there would be theme music behind you as you spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth, or that people will stand and applaud when they see you reaching out or making sacrifices. But the truth is, you probably will be rejected, made fun of, ridiculed… maybe even persecuted. Don’t lose heart. It is the way of being a true Catholic Christian. You must carry your cross (joyfully) as your spread the Good News. If you stay rooted in prayer, connected to others, receiving Jesus in the Eucharist frequently, and keep the Mass the source and summit of your life… you will be a light to the world. The joy, peace, love, and zeal that will be evident in you will inspire others to seek the God who you speak about.

 So go forth on a mission to preach the Gospel with your life and with words. Remember, YOU are shining the Light of Christ to the world!

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