Sacred Heart Family Camp
Sacred Heart Family Camp - One Heart, One Family
Those who try Family Retreat Camp once may find themselves returning year after year. Such has been the case for decades in California, where the camp originated, and the practice is gaining momentum here in Missouri.
Sacred Heart Family Retreat Camp is Friday-Sunday, usually the first week of June, at Eagle Hurst Ranch. The site near Steelville on the Huzzah River is about a two-hour drive southeast of St. Louis. The camp is open to parents with children from age 4 through college. The requested donation for the three-day, two-night stay is $475 per family, regardless of size. That includes all meals, snacks and air-conditioned cabins.
Organizers credited the Butz family, owners of Eagle Hurst, for making the retreat affordable and family-friendly. Running the retreat camp are the Sisters of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart. Sister Adriane, Sister Guadalupe, and Sister Laura- are based in St. Louis. They regularly offer retreats for sacramental preparation for youth, conduct adult and family programs, teach catechetics at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, working the the Archdiocese of St. Louis at the Paul VI Pontifical Institute. There they teach catechetics for teachers and offer an online prayer course.
The theme of the Sacred Heart Family Retreat is One Heart, One Family. Celebrating the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist are the center of the weekend. The Sisters noted, "The Church is deeply concerned for the family. I think the blessing of the priests who offer their time for this weekend are a wonderful witness to that."
The Sacred Heart Sisters pattern the Eagle Hurst retreat camp after the Sacred Heart Retreat Camp at Big Bear Lake, Calif. That camp has been operating for almost 40 years and has seen second and third generations of families returning annually.
Matt Witte said he and his wife, Gina, had been seeking a retreat experience their entire family could share. They had found Catholic retreats for families that included the sacraments "few and far between as compared to evangelical Christian or Protestant-type retreats." Then they learned about the Catholic Family Retreat Camp through the St. Louis Review. It was just what they wanted.
"It is a good place where family life is nurtured," Witte said. His family particularly loved the "‘outdoorsy' environment" of the retreat. They also were "thrilled" to have the sacraments present. He and his wife, for example, renewed their marriage vows while there. Witte said there were other families similar to his who were eager to learn about their faith but shy about how to go about doing it. He credited the Sisters for doing "a great job of bringing different levels of learning to our families." He especially liked that families did things together, but also that they were broken into various age groups "so they could get closer to what was going on in our particular lives."
While at camp, his family took advantage of the ample free time to swim or take a float down the Huzzah River, ride horses, find caterpillars, and play tether ball, horseshoes, tennis, ping pong and shuffleboard and kick around a soccer ball, Witte said. Two of his children missed soccer tournaments. But it's worth it, he said. "It's a sacrifice for them. Maybe they'll groan a little bit, but not as much as you would normally think, so that's a testament." And, he added, "the food is excellent."
For more information or to register for Sacred Heart Family Retreat Camp, call the Sacred Heart Sisters at 314.429.0526 or 314.792.7461. See on this page, the Registration form for June 2 - 4, 2017. For views of the camp and directions, visit the Eagle Hurst Ranch website at http://eaglehurstranch.com/.