From July 18-28, the land of Captivenia opened its doors for an 8th time, welcoming 95 girls to experience the truth & mystery of being “Chosen” by the King.
Hidden away in the foothills outside Calgary, Alberta, this camp is a protected & well-kept secret. It seeks to be a living experience for girls and young women of the truth of their identity and feminine genius. That sounds very abstract & ambitious, yet for camp director Valerie Doran and her team, it is God-given mission and a key for transforming the world.
As well-said by Fulton J. Sheen,
“To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”
The girls that come to the camp are welcomed, cared for by an incredible team of young women, placed within a community and surrounded by beauty. At the same time, it is a camp that provides the most basic bare necessities, allowing the girls to experience some challenge & discomfort that builds resilience. It removes from the girls all the things girls and women often use to cover up or hide: cell phones, pictures, name brand clothes, make up, friend group. None of those things are bad but since they do not enter into the realm, the girls are left vulnerable and free, to be themselves and discover themselves in a new way.
A day in Captivenia is never dull and never the same. During the week, the girls have wilderness training, go on night adventures through the forest or “missions” as they are called, build forts, practice archery, race at obstacle courses, have scavenger hunts and face scary enemies on various adventures. As well, they have daily prayer times & mass, formation talks, activities, and adoration. Definitely not least important, are the characters of the land & the memorable moments the girls share with them, “the scenes”. Each camp unfolds a different drama in the land as the story-line and individual characters lives are developed. The campers are never mere spectators but are part of the scene and often are called upon to do acts of heroism and service to help the story unfold. This summer, one of the girls role models, the lead Messenger was kidnapped in battle and the girls later had to enter enemy territory to rescue her. As well, the throne of Captivenia was vacant and so they were in expectation for the naming of the new princess. The characters: with their personality, virtues, words, decisions, are living out in front of the girls everything the camp is trying to teach them. They become like living, breathing icons of the spiritual life: the care of a King, the danger of evil, the power of good, the effort of virtue, the importance of prayer etc.