In Mid-January, directors of Catholic Summer Camps from 10 different states gathered in Huttonsville to share life and ideas. During that time, there was a session offered to the group that discussed the "Hero's Journey" and the power story has to engage us and compel us further into greatness. We all love epic stories. We all resonate with hero's who are doing great things. We all long to be the hero of our own story.
When we are working with people this love of story is something worth tapping into. When you look at experiential education or group games you regularly see stories laden throughout... There is a river of chocolate and you need to get to the other side only using the marshmallows; there has been an epic disaster and you need to save everyone around you; who wants to play "Mafia"?; who hasn't pretended that the floor is lava?. As people we are drawn into stories. They get us excited, get us to buy in, and help us be willing to step out of normal and be comfortable doing something unusual.
As a Catholic Church, we also love stories. We are a people living out Salvation History which is "The Greatest Story Ever Told" as they say. Scripture is story after story after story, and most of them are exciting and thrilling when you actually read them. Where the Bible leaves off, the history of our Church continues. We memorialize major characters who have amazing stories by canonizing them and then hold them up as examples of people who lived lives of "heroic virtue" in all sorts of scenarios and agains all odds. We take events and remember them on the Church's calendar as well because they are significant. The feast of the Holy Rosary remembers a crucial naval battle, the dedication of churches, The exaltation of the Cross, Our lady of Fatima's feast, and so many other great stories are a part of our bigger story.
As you are leading your group through the experiences of our faith, I challenge you to connect them to their story of faith which is so much more than the length of their own life, but is the very life of the Church going all the way back to the Garden. As you look at your topics and activities, what story from scripture or tradition underscores your message or sets the stage for the conversation you are looking to have? We don't need to make up stories like so many teachers and experiential educators do ... we merely need to look at our own story.
This week's activity, called "The River Crossing", is a great activity for grade schoolers through adult. It is a common one for low-ropes courses, but can be done in any church hall or classroom. Here you will see it set in the stage of one of our lesser known saints ... St. Benezet, or "Little Benett"