Faith and Fun Intertwine at Malverne's Camp Lourdes [Photos]

Kids learn Bible lessons while enjoying arts, crafts and music during two-week program.

The day includes arts and crafts, sports and snack time. The kids sing songs, play games, share laughs and create memories, but this isn't your typical summer camp.

For two weeks in August, roughly 80 kids, ages 4 to 9, enjoyed these activites while also learning about their faith at Camp Lourdes in Malverne.

The camp, which is set inside the basement of wrapped up another successful season on Aug. 17, treating parents to a showcase of the songs, prayers and lessons their children learned this summer. Click through the gallery above to see photos from the performance.

The show captured this year's theme, "Diving in with all our hearts," explained Kristin Dematteo, 26, of Malverne, who has been volunteering at the camp for 13 years. 

Everything they did -- from the daily Bible stories they read, the arts and crafts they created and the songs they sang -- all tied into the theme, Dematteo added. 

To help the kids, especially the youngest ones, understand the Bible readings, the counselors would "pick out the main messages and explain it as simple as possible," Erin Graetzer, 21, a Malvernite and OLL graduate who has been volunteering at the camp for eight years. "A lot of the stories come down to just always helping other people and we'd ask them how they help others ... their mom and dad, so they realize that what they are doing is Christ-like."

They do get the message, they ask questions and even come in with examples of how they used what they learned at camp in their home life, says Dematteo.

"That's the best when they tell you they went home and helped someone," Graetzer adds.

Like Graetzer and Dematteo, the camp's roughly 50 other counselors are all volunteers. Many of them are still in high school. What inspires them to dedicate two weeks of their summer to the camp?

"For me, it's re-energizing, because sometimes you get lost in how you live your life," Dematteo says.

"You're teaching the kids, but you also learn yourself," adds Graetzer.

Plus, she says,"Everyone is so enthusiastic and excited. They come back because it's their favorite two weeks of summer. It's like a little family."


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