Italian Summer Camp for Young Disabled People ( Campo Estivo Italia )
In what can certainly be regarded as an established tradition, even this year members of the Youth Groups of the Order of Malta from all round Italy have convened in Racconigi ( in the beautiful countryside near Turin ) for the annual national Summer Camp for disabled people. This consists of seven days of activities, games and excursions whereby ill people and Order of Malta Volunteers live side by side, learning to know each other and to serve those in need, embodying the evangelical virtues of Charity and Love.
All of our guests were accompanied to the Camp by members of their respective Delegations, who travelled with them by train, plane or car.
At this point, it appears fundamental to remember how no less than one person is assigned to follow each of our guests from dawn to sunset, with a maximum of three being necessary in the most challenging cases.
The days spent in the Camp are never idle, in fact they flourish with the most various activities and initiatives: from games specifically conceived for disabled people, treasure hunts, visits to some of the numerous Italian historical monuments in their majestic beauty, competitions in cooking or sewing and even some pet therapy, provided by a specialised canine Unit trained by the Order itself.
In deference to the Catholic tradition of the Order, the spiritual activities are also manifold. Each day begins with the morning Prayer, and is then marked by the Holy Mass, Confessions, the regular prayer of the Holy Rosary and the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Indeed the constant presence of three Chaplains has helped considerably in this sense.
Furthermore, it ought to be noted that the whole medical, first aid and nursing services were entirely provided by members of the Order youth.
In describing this joyous recurrence of the Summer Camps, nonetheless, reference should always be made to another important aspect: organization. In fact, it might be quite challenging to arrange for the transfer of our disabled guests, to collect all the necessary supplies and to provide for the care needed by almost 150 people. No less effort is required by the need to erect tents, install chemical toilets and drive all the vehicles.
But in the end of such an experience, every drop of sweat is rewarded and every difficulty is easily forgotten at the sight of the sincere smile of our guests and at the knowledge that troubled families were finally able to enjoy some holidays as we were catering for their sons and daughters, to whom they caringly attend during the whole year with sacrifice and love at the same time.
Many other pages would be needed to properly describe what such an opportunity represents for all the participants: suffice it to say that it allows everyone to experiment the perpetual vitality of the charisma of the Order: "Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum".
Therefore, it would be difficult to imagine a more appropriate ending for this very few lines than the words of Saint Luke in the Gospel: "Beatius est magis dare quam accipere".
"Beatius est magis dare quam accipere"