Camp Calye was a very refreshing experience for me. It was a break from my everyday routine of waking up, eating, sleeping and exercising. Personally, I am just a regular attendee of the The Feast. I am a member of the Light of Jesus Community yet I am not a servant. Honestly, I am almost invisible. I only go there to attend mass. Occasionally, I stay to listen to some talks I deem as interesting. That was my routine every Sunday. Weeks passed by and I felt like my spiritual life has come to a roadblock. Then Camp Calye came…
The month before Camp Calye, my father, who was one of the leaders of Feast Taytay, was already trying to persuade me to sign up for camp. I said, “Pag-iisipan ko pa, Dad.” Every week, my dad continued to bring it up yet I always kept saying that I would think about. It was a subtle way of saying, “No.” I thought that attending that camp was “baduy” and that I would not have anything to do there. However, as summer went on, I thought to myself, “What am I supposed to do here in the house?” I was bored to the point that I was just staring into space to pass the time. The day before the camp started, my dad asked me one last time whether or not I was going to join the camp. It got me thinking, “Why don’t I just go to that camp? I have nothing better to do here. I’ve been rotting in the house for the past two weeks.” I had nothing to lose so at the last second, to the delight of my dad, I finally joined the camp.
On the April 18, I woke up at around 5:30 am to finish packing the things I needed for the camp. After packing, my dad and I headed to McDonald’s in Antipolo because that was where I was supposed to hitch a ride going to the camp. My dad and I got there while Tito Kap and his family were waiting there. I ate some breakfast and after a brief exchange of pleasantries, my dad and I parted ways.
I came to camp feeling heavy. I was asking myself, “Ano ba ‘tong pinasukan ko?” It was like I was there against my own will. I registered my name and I went to a team which was the Grey Team. I put down my bags and I went on the makeshift amphitheater or “ampi.” We started off with a prayer went on to the worship. I wasn’t paying attention because I was still busy thinking about what I was doing there. It felt like I went there just for the sake of going out. The only highlight of the day was when we were tasked to go through the obstacle course. It was so much fun! After the activity, Brother Obet Cabrillas or Daddy O gave us a very inspiring talk about his life and about man’s quest to go back to his primordial nature or “Likas.” I was so inspired and moved by his talk. I felt like the emptiness inside was slowly filling up. After his marvelous talk, I was asking myself, “Ano nangyari? Bakit ganito ang nararamdaman ko?” At the back of my mind, I knew something was going to happen to me. After the activities and dinner, we moved our bags to the tents and decided to call it a day.
Day 2 of the camp was more or less, the same. We had more fun and interesting activities prepared yet I still woke up with that nagging feeling that my stay there was pointless. After breakfast, we proceeded to Camp 2 to listen to a talk by Brother Erickson about “Lupig” or taking away one’s negative inhibitions. Admitting your weaknesses, pains and insecurities to yourself so that God can help you get rid of them. It was nothing short of inspiring because like Daddy O, Brother Erickson used to be a rascal; a guy who would pick a fight with anyone who would get in his way because he grew under very adverse circumstances. If you don’t step on others, you’re the one who gets stepped on. When he eventually let God into his life, he realized that there was more to life than what he knew at that time. He changed for the better and eventually became a servant for the Light of Jesus community. After the talk, we had a gamut of fun activities like rappelling and rock climbing. We even had “Fear Factor” challenges (e.g. eating raw egg, the Trust fall, passing around a frog as fast as we can). After lunch, we had a bunch of activities and worship. Personally, the highlight of the day was the group sharing in the evening. I was able to share my knowledge and experience to people who would not judge me. At the same time, it felt good to help my group members who had their own pains and weaknesses by giving them advice and insights. I felt genuinely satisfied and happy after the group sharing. After sharing, it was time for lights out.
Day 3 was the most memorable for me. I expected something to happen to me and something really did happen. Morning was very tiring since we hiked up the mountain to a glorious view of Laguna de Bay. Breath-taking is the word. It was tiring but it was very much worth it in the end. After we went down and had lunch, a talk was given by Sister Ericka about “Lakas” or discovering one’s strengths or “powers” and using it to serve God. I’ve used “inspiring” over and over again at this point yet I could not find any other word fitting for all the talks. I felt like the emptiness inside me was almost filled up. The talk made me realize what my strengths were and how I could hone it even more. The day went on and my team was very competetive in all the activities that we have done from Day 1. The activities flew by until it was time for the bonfire. The bonfire was a camp tradition held on the last night of the camp. The bonfire was my enlightening experience. Specifically, the part when our facilitators prayed over us. Kuya Christian felt like he was in tears while praying over me. It brought me to tears. It wasn’t him that was talking but God. He was touching me and talking to me. That was the time I opened myself to let the Holy Spirit inside of me. All the burden and heaviness that I brought suddenly faded away. I realized that all throughout my life, God never left me. Even if I was beginning to doubt my religion, he was still there by my side. Patiently waiting for me to open up and lift my life up to him. It was a very profound yet calming experience that when I went to go to sleep, it was one of the few times I shut my eyes with absolutely no heaviness in my heart.
Day 4 was the last day of camp. We went swimming early in the morning to sort of rejuvenate ourselves from 3 tiring days of camp. After an hour and half of swimming, we went back to the camp to tidy up and pack our things in preparation for leaving. However, before leaving, Brother Paolo gave us one last talk about “Lipad,” which was the overall theme of Camp Calye. He basically shared his life to us and told us how “Likas,” “Lupig,” and “Lakas” played a part to make him experience “Lipad.” He was a young servant who disliked the elders of the community because he thought they were hypocrites. He wrote a letter to them containing all of his sentiments and thoughts toward them. It came to a point that he was suspended from serving. His turning point was when Daddy O talked to him about apologizing to the elders. That was when he discovered that his “Likas” was to serve the Lord. Eventually, he also realized that he was a prideful person because he would not apologize that easily, much more if he knew that he was the right one. Yet somehow he found a way to swallow his pride and write to each and every elder a letter of apology. He was crying as he was writing each letter however, after he finished all of them, he was able to breathe a sigh of relief. Eventually, he was reinstated back into the community and through the years that he has been serving, he realized his strengths and honed them. Over time, the person that the elders wanted to remove eventually became a leader like them. Brother Paolo is now the overall Youth Head of the Light of Jesus Community. After the talk, we had the customary “take-a-picture-with-everyone” to solidify the memories we have made throughout the whole camp. After all the picture-taking, we ate lunch, took our stuff from the tents, put them inside our respective jeeps and left Sacramento Adventure Camp.
To sum it all up, my Camp Calye experience was something I will never forget. It was the time where I felt God’s ultimate love first-hand. I could never have prepared myself for all the lessons, insights and experiences I gained from four days of camping out in the wilderness. I almost never got to experience this camp if it weren’t for dad’s persistence. God does move in mysterious ways. Personally, after experiencing Camp Calye, I can firmly say that the best things in life are always the ones you never expect.
– Robert John Quiroz