Catholic HEART Workcamp Memphis Under New Leadership

Catholic Heart Workcamp (CHWC) was started in 1993 by founders Steve and Lisa Walker in Orlando, Florida.  CHWC was born out of their desire to foster the spiritual growth of each participant through the sacraments, Catholic faith sharing and prayer as they live as disciples of Christ through serving others. Memphis has been a host city for CHWC since 2007.  Since that time Rene Platten, OLPH parishioner, has managed the camp.  As Rene looked to retire after last year’s camp, new leadership was needed for this annual camp in order to keep it in Memphis.  CHWC leadership in Orlando, FL reached out to St. Louis Youth Ministry and a new host parish was found!  In addition to St. Louis becoming the host youth group, Hannah Hill, Associate Director of Youth Ministry, became the new manager for the Memphis camp and Paul Walker, Director of Youth Ministry, became the new director for the Memphis camp.  Hannah and Paul had already been to a combined 32 workcamps around the country so the leadership transition was seamless.

St. Louis Youth Ministry has been to 24 CHWC mission trips since 2006.  This summer they will be attending two more camps where they will serve in Charleston, SC and New Braunfels, TX.  More than 130 adult chaperones have attended CHWC camps with St. Louis Youth Ministry over the years.  As an added touch of Southern hospitality, these former chaperones were invited to participate in this year’s Memphis camp in a unique way.  Nearly 140 campers visited this year’s Memphis camp which ran from June 2-8.  Campers camp from Texas, Ohio, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and California. Former St. Louis chaperones dropped in on these campers at their twenty different worksites with treats and warm welcomes to our city.  One former chaperone even treated every camper and staff member to Mempops after their Wednesday workday.  This added touch was a great way to include former chaperones and really made the newcomers to our city feel welcomed and appreciated. Work sites around the city included Ave Maria Assisted Living, Manna House, Boys and Girls Club of Memphis, Mid-South Food Bank, Agape Child and Family Services, and Catholic Charities.

Current and former St. Louis youth, and former CHWC chaperones also worked hard behind the scenes that week helping to transform St. Benedict at Auburndale High School into Catholic HEART Workcamp, greeting new campers, helping campers with their luggage and serving meals to the campers.  St. Benedict was an incredible facility for this camp and CHWC is very grateful that SBA is willing to share their space with for a week.

The week ended with the annual resident’s night where those residents and agency representatives who were served throughout the week were invited to come to SBA to share their stories of the amazing service provided by these amazing young people. Mayor Jim Strickland attended this year’s event and shared with the campers and local Memphians present the impact that our city has had on the world in the past 200 years and expressed his gratitude to all those who served so diligently throughout our city that week.  He told them that their service would certainly have lasting impacts and would multiply throughout the city.

St. Louis Youth Ministry, under the direction of Paul Walker and Hannah Hill, looks forward to continuing to host CHWC in the city of Memphis next year.

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