Happy St. Patrick’s Day – free download for you

I will return to posting the Camp Manual tomorrow, but wanted to share a really lovely download package available free from my dear friend Paola Ciszanik over at Emmanuel Books.

I’ll be praying it is just what you need to liven your day – whether you homeschool or just have your kids home due to school closures.

Go mbeannai Dia Duit (May God Bless You in Gaelic)

Camp Manual – #3

BORING (BUT ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL) BUSINESS STUFF:

INSURANCE: The need to make sure you have proper insurance cannot be overstated. While talking about insurance seems so dry, we know you are aware of the risks faced when bringing any number of people together. Our society seems more litigious than ever and taking small steps to protect everyone involved is important.

Depending on your location the event will probably be covered by either the parish’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance. However, many facilities that you may want to rent will want to see a certificate of insurance before the event. Your parish’s insurance might extend to an outside location but you will need to find out.

If you can’t get it through your parish or home and you are a registered club, you can apply for the insurance through our Behold Publications insurance company.  We can apply for a certificate on your behalf and while there may be a small charge for this from the insurance company, we would let you know that cost before going forward.

(Registering your club is as easy to heading over to our website www.beholdpublications.com/RegisteredClubs and filling out the necessary information)

COST: This is determined by what is needed for your chosen location, food and craft supplies. You can make an expected budget including rental costs, menu and crafts dividing by either each attending camper or families as a group. 

Each attendee (both parent and child/ren) will need a name tag, necessary patches, craft supplies and whatever else you are offering such as a t-shirt, bandana, string backpack, etc. 

Do not overly burden your own family’s budget nor see this as a time to make a profit. Easy and low cost craft supplies are found on-line, at local dollar stores or maybe from the families who can be asked to look in their own supplies. Our patron saint badges are affordable and each come with easy suggestions for activities. Items at Dollar Tree can be ordered in bulk online and sent to your nearest store, saving time and money.

Be sure to keep track of costs and ensure you are paid in a timely manner. Above covering all costs, you might be in a position to ask families to go above and beyond what is asked to help off-set the cost of families in need by way of scholarship, or simply offer donations to the family hosting, the church you use or the religious who give of their time to visit the camp.

We all know that costs can easily skyrocket so keeping detailed records, receipts and staying in touch with the families expected to come can help make the camp affordable to all.

You could also find a beneficiary or two for your camp. Does your local Knights of Columbus, parish education fund, youth group or parish women’s group cover sponsorships? If so, they may be interested in sponsoring your camp.

THEME

(based on feedback from Carol (and others) we are considering designating a 2020 Theme which you would be free to use. Look for an announcement about this within the next week or so.)

2019 Theme

Past themes for camps having included Mary’s Garden Party for the 100th anniversary of Fatima to 2019’s Feminine Genius which explored the Doctors of the Church with emphasis on the women. Finding a theme will help in deciding everything from the patron saints, badges, games and crafts. You might ask the families you intend on inviting if they have any ideas or explore themes from our programs as well as the Church.

Ideas might include:

-A dedicated time to really get into one or two of any of the virtues from our wreaths

-Any anniversaries of importance either within your diocese or the Church as a whole. For example, 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Pope St. John Paul the Great which might make for a great retrospective on his life and papacy.

-Exploring Vocations

-Biblical Themes such as Women of the Bible or the Traveling with Saint Paul

-Corporal and/or Spiritual Works of Mercy

PATRON SAINT BADGES & THEME BADGES – 

We have over 20 patron saint badges which come with their own requirements, each of which easily becomes an activity session during your camp. 

Perhaps you chose the theme of The Holy Family – Making Our Families Like Theirs. You then have the St. Joseph badge. One of its requirements is the instruction to ‘make something out of wood with a parent’s help’. During one year’s camp, the girls and mothers made simple bird feeders which were then painted. 

Another theme could be Going into the Wilderness; a theme on the life of St. John the Baptist. You then can do St. Camillus de Lellis, patron saint of first aid and health care workers; as first aid when outdoors is always important.  This badge allows for learning basic first aid which could be done by a parent who might be a health care worker themselves, and have those attending construct basic home first aid kits.

An exploration of the life of Pope St. John Paul would have to include the drama badge as he was a playwright!

In other words, our patron saint badges are the perfect answer to the question, “But, what would we do?” as each one has something active, something creative and something more spiritual as a requirement.

We also have a Family Evangelization Badge and Outdoor Adventure Badge which have accompanying patron saint badges that can be earned.

SPIRITUAL STUFF – 

This is the easiest part of all as we are all familiar with the various prayers, meditations and devotions we have in the Church. You will pray together when you gather, before each meal, as a part of each patron saint activity and more. We have by way of tradition our Morning Offerings, the Angelus, Grace before Meals, Evening Balance and so much more. 

If you are using a secular site, inquire about being able to bring in a picture of Jesus or a statue of the Blessed Mother to help everyone realize that your camp is also a time of retreat. You might ask a family to take on the task of creating a lovely Mary altar or place of prayer for everyone to gather around during times of prayer.

Be sure to schedule a group rosary. You can plan either a living Rosary with each attendee taking one prayer around the campfire or a more solemn one before the tabernacle at the Church. 

If a priest  is available, consider asking if he would be able offer Confession or maybe even a short talk. If there are other religious available in your area, perhaps one could come by to join in a meal or share their charism and work.

If any of your patron saint badges have a specific devotion (Litany of St. Joseph, Brown Scapular, etc.), be sure to make time to share its history and pray it as a group.

A Spiritual Communion can be planned in lieu of daily Mass but being able to attend Mass as a group for either Daily Mass or a Sunday Mass is a real blessing for every camp. 

COMMUNITY SERVICE – 

Asking the campers to remember the poor and those in need is as easy as asking everyone attending to bring food for a local food pantry or donations to a local pregnancy center. Having this as a part of your event helps remind us that we are serving Jesus when we serve others (Mt. 25:45). These works of love could be a part of your entire theme or just a request as a “thank you” especially if you are using a church space. 

CHARITIES – 

Charities from previous camps

While we know that charity and love prevail, but ‘charities’ are those items each girl would make at home and bring to exchange with other attendees. As a part of the welcome activities they make a great icebreaker and getting-to-know-you activity. These end up pinned onto shirts, name tags or hats. A quick search on-line (think Behold Publications Pinterest page) will help you find easy ones to make, for even the least crafty family. Let those attending how many you campers you expect so each girl can come with enough to share. 

GROUP CRAFT – 

While each patron badge has its own suggestions for a craft, everyone making the same craft as a group will give each attendee a memory to take home. These are easily done as a part of the welcoming activities. For previous camps, we have always done a type of shirt that the girls then wear at the final Mass or gathering. 

T-Shirt 2019

We’ve tie-dyed shirts, and “painted” shirts with sharpie markers and rubbing alcohol. You might decide to have their girls do autographed tote bags or pillow case which everyone signs or something similar. Ideas galore for such a kick-off craft can be found on-line. 

To help reduce costs you can ask each attendee to come with their own pre-washed white t-shirt or pillow case for dyeing, embellishment or something similar.

I hope this is helping you as you plan a camp for your group/area. Tomorrow’s post will include ideas for FOOD, FUN, and TEAMWORK

Camp Manual – 2nd Post

This picture is NOT A LITTLE FLOWER CAMP 🙂

First, many thanks to Carol who has already given us some great feedback which I will incorporate in the “final” manual and future posts.

WHO TO INVITE – (expect changes to this section based on Carol’s excellent feedback, but here’s our first draft)

PLANNING TEAM: While you might prefer working solo, planning a camp is a perfect example of many hands making light the work. Build a team of few other parents to help with everything from handling the registrations to heading up the crafts.

While we all know too many cooks might spoil a soup, the story of Nehemiah (chapter 3) beautifully details the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem with each gate being handled by a different group of workers. Don’t take on so much alone that either you (or your family) regrets ever even thinking about hosting a camp!

CAMPERS – Knowing exactly who you want to invite to your event will impact everything else. Perhaps you want to do something just for your own group (which is great) or maybe you are considering reaching out to others in your region. While an event for under 20 adults/children might be able to be hosted in your own backyard, anything larger might need to move off-site so decide how many you can expect to come.

Spread the news through your group, social media and church bulletins. Get started on our paperwork for registration, including emergency forms, and all the details you need to keep track of. You can use on-line spreadsheets such as Excel to keep track of who will be attending, their fees and payment, what they are bringing, etc. This aspect of the planning is the perfect job for one of your partners.

PARENTS – Be sure to let each parent attending know that is a mother/daughter retreat. They are expected to stay with their child and be a real part of every activity from making the craft to helping clean up. Without wanting to be harsh, the camp is not a time when a few Moms to do all the work while other Moms relax on their phones or disappear. Emphasizing the mother/daughter aspect by including every parent on the camp teams will help.

Of course, you will have some families who send their daughter along with a friend due to work, a new baby or other situation. This is not a problem and can become a real chance to serve a Mom in distress; but be sure to encourage the Moms that this time spent with their child will be a blessing for both of them.

BEHOLD PUBLICATIONS – We are here for you! While we won’t be hosting the event or able to attend in person, we want to help. Check the website for info from previous camps that includes what to bring, ideas on charities. Reach out and let us know any additional questions beyond what we are providing in this manual. The website for previous years’ camp information is: www.beholdpublications.com/SummerCamps

Be sure to let us know the date/time/location (especially if you are opening it other groups) and we’ll be happy to make sure it is on our Facebook page and blog, as well as links from the Summer Camps page.

LOCATION – You will need a location that can give you space for every event you are planning from crafts to patron saint badge sessions along with food prep and serving.

For example, if you are expecting participants to form three teams, you will need three locations; two teams just two locations. It is easy to share a large space with a team at each end in a church gym or a short hike to the two pavilions offered at a campsite.

Consider first the homes of your own club members. A farm or home with more than an acre might be well-suited for your camp. Using a home allows for access to a kitchen, bathrooms and inside space due to inclement weather at a fairly reasonable cost (free?). A large enough piece of property could hold a few tents or campers, while the floor of a basement or barn with sleeping bags and air mattresses has its own charm.

Next, consider asking your parish if its location would allow you use for your camp. A parish with a meeting hall, an attached school or large acreage would suffice while also providing access to Jesus in the tabernacle and maybe even your priest for the sacraments or a visit. The cost of use for a parish would need to be considered when deciding on what to charge.

Outside of these locations you can inquire at retreat centers, local camping sites or even public parks that might also allow for camping. A full service retreat center will offer the most amenities but also cost the most as it might be outfitted more like a hotel. 

Remember all of these will charge a fee and may require insurance which you need to consider as part of the cost.

OUTSIDE, INSIDE OR BOTH? – the location and length of time for your camp will not only inform the families if they need secure tents/campers or just sleeping bags/blankets, but help determine what activities you plan. A camp providing cabins and bunk beds has its own cost but offers protection from the weather while giving you places for eating, crafts and games.

Meanwhile, a church facility might have a ban against a fire precluding marshmallows and a sing-along around a campfire, but give you a great kitchen for meals. 

Some public locations can offer affordable tent space or cabins along with a pavilion for meals, crafts and etc. but not offer a chapel for prayer time. 

Consider the finances of your families before committing to any location requiring rental fees.

TOMORROW: How long should the camp be? And Boring Business Stuff.

Future Posts will cover Theme, Patron Saint Badges, Crafts & Songs. As well as Sample Schedules for a One Day Camp, An Overnight Camp and Three Day Extravaganza

ALSO NOT FROM A LITTLE FLOWERS CAMP 🙂 But don’t we wish it were?!

Considering a Camp?

CAMP MANUAL – Section I

You may have seen our Little Flower camps or Mary’s Garden Parties advertised on our site (www.beholdpublications.com) or through the blog and thought ‘I wish I could take my daughter to one of these but can’t because….(fill in the blank here).’

Have you ever considered that you could host your own camp, literally in your own backyard?

Well, might this be your year to try in light our announcement (3/6) that we will not be hosting any national camps this summer? Our necessary respite from planning and hosting camps comes from several factors including the passing of Bob Stromberg (Joan’s husband) and my continued struggle with multiple sclerosis. While we will miss all of those lovely girls (and their mothers) from our regular camps in Virginia, Minnesota and Kentucky, it is the right time to stay home. So, it is all up to YOU!

Of course, making the time to plan and host a Little Flower (or Blue Knights or Hospitality Club or Honor Guard) camp/garden party will take time and effort on your part, but what you will gain will make it well worth it. We know because we did it first.

We also know when we do as Jesus told his apostles to “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” (Mk 6:31) we allow Him to strengthen us and give ourselves the grace we need for the work He calls us to do. The camps we have had are always done with a spirit of retreat woven throughout. By doing so, our time of fun, crafts, fireside songs and games lets Christ know we are two or three (or thirty) gathered in His name, asking Him to be present with us.

From the beginning, we have wanted our camps to have a Mother/Daughter retreat feel. Too many times, our lives are so busy with daily responsibilities and the siren call of the world that real time with the children God has given us to love, form and nurture is diminishing. These camps can go a long way to restore proper order to our relationships and our lives.

So, perhaps the Holy Spirit is calling you to consider planning a camp for your own group and perhaps even for those groups near you. To make this easier, we have compiled what you need in order to make such a camp/retreat possible. 

Remember to pray first for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and then give all of your efforts over to God. Ask the God of all creation to help you follow His will in what you create for His glory and praise. Once you’ve chosen the patron saints you want to include, add them to your prayer team, and know God is with you and working with you towards success.

TIME FRAME for PLANNING – 

Realize the importance of planning the camp well ahead of the time you want to host it. Of course, you can easily ‘throw together’ a day event with a pot luck supper and activities in a few weeks, but more time will be needed if your event will be longer.

Taking the time to plan well and give the families you are inviting the time they need to plan on attending (as well as plan on helping you out) is not only appreciated but the responsible and charitable thing to do. Luke 14:28 reminds us, “Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?”

Tomorrow’s section will include: WHO TO INVITE, LOCATION and TIME FRAME CONSIDERATIONS. See you then –

Novena to St. Joseph begins tomorrow

by Theophilia

He is considered by many to be the most popular or favorite saint and why not? Though he was a man of few words (actually no words) in Scripture, he was a man of action. Whatever God asked of him, he did. Take Mary as your wife – done! Take the child to safety to Egypt – done! Return now to Nazareth – done! Protect Jesus and His Blessed mother – done and done! If only we could have the same conviction and sense of purpose!

Over the centuries we have come to know of his protection as Patron of the Universal Church, his intercession for unborn children, fathers, immigrants, workers, employment, explorers, pilgrims, travellers, carpenters, realtors, against doubt and hesitation, and of a happy death. He is also the patron of entire countries such as Belgium, Canada, Vietnam and so many others.

Did you know of his title as “TERROR OF DEMONS”?!?!?

St. Joseph, Terror of Demons
Theophilia, www.deviantart.com

In other words, this go-to guy is waiting to join us in fighting our battles. Head over to https://www.praymorenovenas.com/st-joseph-novena to join the Church in remembering him and ask for his help with any of your struggles, doubts or in the selling/buying a house!

Important News about 2020 Camps

Hutchison Lodge, Freedom Center, Leesburg, VA

While it may still be cold where you are and Easter remains weeks away, many families are already starting to plan their summer plans. Realizing this, Joan Stromberg and I want to let all of you know that we, together with our company, Behold Publications, will not be planning or attending any 2020 summer camps.

St. Michael’s Parish , Pine Island, MN


Over the past years, we have hosted and attended as many as 4 camps throughout the summer; enjoying time with Little Flowers and their Moms in Minnesota, Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky and Maryland. However, 2020 will see us staying home with our own families. As many of you know, Joan lost her dear husband and friend, Bob on February 1, 2020 after a fierce battle with cancer; while I am finding my MS a bit harder to handle, especially when traveling.


So, we’re going to enjoy some time close to home and ask all of you to consider either hosting a camp for your own group, or attend a camp that is already being planned by another Little Flowers Girls’ Club®. And camps ARE being planned.
We will be posting those details very shortly and know those Moms will do to do a great job, but know that we will not be attending.

DSC_0386
Rock Climbing in MD in 2014
T-Shirts made with sharpies
and rubbing alcohol


What about you? Might St. Therese and the Blessed Mother be asking you to consider hosting a one day summer garden party or a full three day camp? To help you in hosting something in your neck of the woods, we’ve created a CAMP MANUAL that will help you with the nuts and bolts of running a camp – be it a just a fun-filled day of activities or a 3 day camp extravaganza.


Starting on Monday, March 9th, I’ll be posting the manual in easy to digest (and print out) sections so you will have most of what you need to planning your own camp. 


By way of wonderful coincidence, the day happens to be the feast of St. Frances of Rome (d. 1440), who is the patroness of automobile drivers! It is said an angel traveled with a lantern lighting her way as she traveled keeping her safe from harm. She will be a wonderful patroness as everyone prayerfully considers hitting the road or asking others to travel to them!


So, keep an eye on the blog and Facebook pages for the manual. We will also be letting you know of the camps being planned right now as soon as those details come in.


Of course, we will miss seeing everyone and want to throw out special love and hugs to the regular attendees of the camps at St. Michael’s Parish in MN and at the Freedom Center in VA, and Camp Crestwood in KY, along with special thanks to Caroline Fleischmann for her encouragement in getting the manual done. Summer 2020 won’t be as exciting for Joan and I as in years past, but we both know this is what we need.


Please continue to pray for Joan and her family and be assured of our prayers for your families and summer plans.

Happy Feast of St. Katharine Drexel – Do something unexpected!

Check out our book “The People’s Princess, A St. Katharine Drexel Story” by Joan Stromberg

She arrives to visit with us in our Wreath II, holding a bouquet of daisies, ready to teach us about the virtue of generosity with stories of her own remarkable life (1858-1955).

Her story is probably familiar and easily found on-line, or in our book “The People’s Princess” (click on link above) but, as a quick reminder, she was the heiress to a share of her father’s fortune receiving more than $15 million upon his death (worth more than $400 million today).

Rather than sit back and enjoy a life of leisure, she did the unexpected and sought to do great good with her fortune. At the age of 33 (!!), she made her first professions in religious life and left the comfort of Philadelphia behind, heading out west. She actively spent her fortune on the needy (in particular African Americans and Native Americans) through both charitable organizations and the order of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament which she founded.

What a challenge to us as we are starting off Lent – how is God asking us to be unexpected? While I doubt any of us will receive a fortune to share or a late vocation, we all have opportunities throughout our day to share our time, our faith and God’s love with those we encounter.

Be unexpected as St. Katharine was – generously giving our smiles, our cheer and our time; expecting nothing in return.

We can think of this small act of generosity as daisies we are planting in someone’s heart and life.

Looking for a great book to introduce your Little Flowers/Little Women Hospitality group to the work of St. Katharine Drexel? Check out “The People’s Princess- A St. Katharine Drexel Story” by Joan Stromberg at Behold Publications.

Choose Life

By The River – Henry Wolf
Smithsonian Institute

Coming so soon after the March for Life, this phrase usually reminds us of the horrors of our abortion culture. This is true; yet choosing life means so much more than that. Today’s first reading, Dt. 30:15-20, “Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.”
is our admonition to choose life at all times, in all situations.

I remember so clearly when Matt and I needed to choose the Church’s road rather than our own. This was especially true in regard to Her teachings regarding contraception. We would begin to choose life and our 11 children are the most obvious testimony to that decision.

Road Song No. 3, Donald Shaw Maclaughlan

But over the years, God would ask us to stay on His path and choose life again (and again and again) beyond the # of children we would have. From the struggles of my MS diagnosis to Matthew’s sometime employment struggles to the daily struggles every married couple faces along with the inherent issues of raising any size of family in today’s culture, we have to choose God’s plan over our own.

We have to choose love over anger, service over selfishness and following the Church over the world, . We have to fight at times to ensure we do not let ” (y)our heart turns away and you do not obey, but are led astray and bow down to other gods and serve them…” (vs. 17).

Each time my MS required medication changes or worsening symptoms, each time Matt found himself in a less-than-perfect job situation, we had to seek God’s plan over our own. Each time we thought that a life of following God is just too hard, we had to instead “hold fast to God” (vs. 20). We needed to believe that regardless of what it looked like, He loved us, would give us the grace to endure and wanted only our very salvation.

With our youngest now 12, Matthew and I still choose life every day when we work towards the good of each other, remained committed to our marriage, our family and the Church. Of course, choosing the life of a child is at the center of the continued battle with the culture of death we live in, but on a daily basis we must also act in a way that reflects our “loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees…” (vs.16)

Sometimes God makes things really clear – planning Lent 2020

I always start the season of Lent hoping for a huge, spiritual transformation. I usually end Lent disappointed as I remain virtually unchanged, same old, same old Rachel – sins, warts and all.

Determined that this year be different, I knew I had to make some changes to help Lent 2020 along. So back in January I did the following:

  1. I asked God for direction in what I should focus on and not left that decision to Ash Wednesday.
  2. I looked on-line at good sites to find resources to support me such as good books, on-line retreats, etc.
  3. I put the items I have found on my planner and calendar (along with digital reminders when possible) so I remember to actually do them.

The result is that I know I am being asked to reconsider and reconfigure my on-line time. In other words, I know I spend too much time wasting time on-line and I don’t even have FB or an Instagram account to blame!

I have been considering this change since my resolutions of New Year but did nothing about it until I saw this video from Fr. Mike Schmitz – Acedia: The Noonday Day Devil – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AHWlZ_ptvc

And just today – https://spiritualdirection.com/2020/02/24/the-vice-of-acedia-and-our-use-of-the-media-part-1 The fact this article mentions eutrapelia, my favorite virtue from our LF wreaths was just bonus and confirmation!

Clearly, acedia (my proper use of time or lack thereof) is the vice God is asking me to tackle this Lent.

I also recognized I have almost constant worries I keep giving to God and taking back. I can’t seem to remember that I am NOT in charge, but He is. And one of my biggest fear is for those family members, both near and far, who have wandered from the Church, both near and far.

In that regard, I found this book offered by https://www.sophiainstitute.com/ and will be prayerfully reading that instead of wasting time on-line.

Finally, I’m signed up to have my Best Lent Ever 2020 through Dynamic Catholic https://dynamiccatholic.com/best-lent-ever Granted, this will come to me on-line but what a good use of that time.

So, while on-line (something I am being asked to reconsider) I found my Lent and am laughing at God’s use of irony.

It’s not too late for you, after all Ash Wednesday is still 2 days away. Be prayerful with God and ask Him how your Lent should look and then make a plan. I’ll be praying for you and your family that Lent 2020 is your best Lent ever.

A new day is coming….

Ash Wednesday is right around the corner and with it comes a new Lent.

Lent is the time Christ asks us to come away from ourselves and join him in desert as we await the new day that is Easter morning – risen to new life from a life of sin and death. Traveling into the desert, even from our living rooms, means packing supplies for the journey and not taking anything we don’t need. The desert can be a tough place and weighing ourselves down with unnecessary burdens will only make the journey tougher. Lent asks us to leave our selfish indulgences behind and turn our back on our sins.

Giving up something concrete such as TV or a favorite dessert empties us of ourselves, leaving room for more Jesus. We can fill up those new empty spaces with more sacraments (daily Mass, time for confession), maybe some additional prayer time or a retreat, or great Catholic resources.

As some suggestions for Lent check out:

Dynamic Catholic’s Best Lent Ever – http://www.dynamiccatholic.com

Consider starting an on-line book club. In my corner of the world we have some reading The Saint Monica ClubHow to Hope, Wait, and Pray for Your Fallen-Away Loved Ones by Maggie Green from https://www.sophiainstitute.com/

Others are giving https://www.tanbooks.com/ , Mary Magdalen in the Visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich a read.

Let’s head into the desert with Christ, taking only what we need and nothing that will slow us down or keep us distracted from our mission – to become more like Christ!

Not sure what you have planned for Lent, but be sure of our prayers that Lent 2020 gives you a new clarity. Think of it as gaining 20/20 vision on how much God loves you and your family.

Feel free to share what you and your family are planning as a source of ideas for others!