MSYM Boot Camp

Check out the video from this past summer’s Boot Camp for Aspiring Saints!!!
Registration form is at the very end, but please check out these FAQs first by clicking on each one for the answer!


What is Boot Camp for Aspiring Saints all about?

Combat Boots croppedBoot Camp for Aspiring Saints is all about performing daily Spiritual & Corporal Works of Mercy as we lead our youth on their own path to sainthood!  Following in the footsteps of our Boot Camp for Aspiring Saints Patrons, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati and Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, we venture out each day on a different Mercy Mission.  Each will be filled with charitable works beyond our parish boundaries and of course we intend for this to be a great deal of fun! Click on the questions below for all of the details. Registration is available at the bottom of this page. Parent volunteers are needed to get us off in the mornings and we need a few parents to travel with us each day as chaperones on our missions.

What are the works of mercy?

The Corporal Works of Mercy include: Feed the hungry, Give Drink to the thirsty, Clothe the naked, Shelter the homeless, Comfort the imprisoned, Visit the sick, Bury the dead. The Spiritual Works of Mercy include: Admonish sinners, Instruct the uninformed, Counsel the doubtful, Comfort the sorrowful, Bear wrongs patiently, Forgive offenses, Pray for the living and the dead.Our inspiration as the theme and focus of each day and the week as a whole is the passage in Matthew 25:  “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me . . . Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

What does a Mercy Mission involve?

A mercy mission always involves three things: a charitable act of some kind, a lunch break, and a very fun activity.

What does a typical day in Boot Camp look like?

There is no typical day! We begin the day some time between 7:00am and 9:00am. We generally have Mass on our own somewhere during the day. We have bagels and juice available for the youth before they get on the buses but encourage them to eat a good breakfast at home before coming to Boot Camp. We head off for our “work of mercy”, visit a religious order along the way and stop for lunch at an outdoor picnic area. Our afternoon may have another work of mercy or it may be something just for the fun of it – like a swim in the Shenandoah River! We return home tired and fulfilled then do it all over again the next day. We do schedule one day just for fun. We return between 4:00pm and 6:00pm depending on where we go for the day. The schedule will be pre-determined and we stay on schedule. You will know in advance our departure and return times for each day of the week.
NOTE: The times may vary depending on the nature of that day’s Mercy Mission and travel time. For instance, last year our “Feed the Hungry” mission departed at 7:00am, traveled to a farm in the northern neck of VA where we harvested corn. Not an easy or comfortable thing to do in the July heat! From there we went to the University of Mary Washington Catholic Campus Ministry for a short ‘Holy Hour” and finished the day with a swim in the Rappahannock River.  We returned to Holy Spirit by 4:00pm, very tired and very fulfilled! We try our best to schedule activities that push the youth out of their comfort zone. It is the most amazing thing to see the youth as they move from uncertainty to compassion throughout the week. Click Here for a look at the 2019 schedule, the 2020 schedule will be similar.  Please note that it will be subject to change.

How firm is the morning departure schedule?

It is FIRM. It varies throughout the week, but the scheduled times are firm. Your final itinerary will include a “check-in” time and a departure time. Because of the nature of our daily plans, we must begin on time. Please be sure your youth arrives no later than the check-in time.

How should my youth dress for each day?

The youth should dress modestly, NO short shorts, spaghetti straps, or 2 piece bathing suits permitted. We will visit a church or religious house at some point each day and appropriate dress is a must. Perhaps a sweater or jacket to throw on, or a skort would be handy for the girls. There will not be changing facilities. Comfortable walking shoes are a must for every day – sandals and flip flops are not allowed.

Is there anything else they should bring?

Yes, sunscreen is a good idea as we will be outside most all day. See the detailed itinerary for complete instructions for what to bring each day. Some days require additional liability forms. They will also be available on the detailed itinerary. They must be brought with your youth the first day or preferably submitted in advance, we will NOT have time to complete them on the first day.

Is there anything my youth should NOT bring?

Glad you asked. All Middle School Youth activities are TECHNOLOGY FREE! This includes cell phones and iPods.  Please leave them home. No exceptions. Chaperones will have cell phones the youth may use in the event of an emergency. Parents will also be provided with an emergency  number for the week.

Is food provided by Boot Camp?

No, you will need to send your youth with a lunch, drinks, and snack for each day. They should each bring a refillable water bottle as we will have jugs of cold water with us. Some days include an ice cream stop and Father O’Donohue will surely bring some much sought after junk food and Starburst, but that is not a substitute for lunch! We will have bagels and juice before departing, but that should not be a substitute for breakfast as we will have some wonderfully long days and they will need to be ready for them.

How does the group travel during the week?

We have rented 2 large charter buses! Youth may leave items in the buses during the day.

Who can attend?

All middle school youth may attend. That is grades 6 – 8, and includes rising 6th and 9th graders. They need not be members of our parish however priority will be given to current youth group members. Which brings me to this point – the youth MUST be registered members of the Middle School Youth program. The registration is available from the main youth page of the web site or from the “forms” section of the middle school page.

Are the youth required to attend all 5 days?  

No, however, they will want to once they see how much fun it is! The days fill up and we can not always make last minute additions. There is always a waiting list so last minute drop-outs are discouraged as they make the planning very difficult.

Are there any other forms I need?

Youth MUST have completed a Holy Spirit Youth Ministry Registration/Liability Form on-line. If you are new to the youth program with this event, please complete the on line registration form. The fee is prorated based on when you fill it in. Your Boot Camp registration will not be processed until this step is completed.
Some days may require a specific facility related form – see the detailed itinerary for more information.

If something comes up and my youth needs to miss a day they have registered for, can I get my money back?

No, sorry. There are expenses that will have already been made prior to that point.

Is there a 2020 Boot Camp Mercy Mission Schedule available?

Not yet! Check out our 2019 itinerary for a good idea of what is to come!

How do I register?!

Click here for the Boot Camp for Aspiring Saints 2020 registration form.