This weekend was a really exciting one for me. One of my many jobs as a priest is serving as the Scout Chaplain for the Archdiocese. I’ve been a scout for 23 years now and have always loved how the Catholic faith and scouting go together so nicely. When the Archbishop appointed me Chaplain for all the scouts I was very excited. I also had a few ideas.
One of those ideas was that I thought we should have an annual event that gathered all of the Catholic scouts together for a big campout. I thought maybe we could have a cooking competition, Mass, and maybe a Christian music concert. I went to the Catholic Committee on Scouting that existed at the time and told them my idea. I told them that I knew that there were wide open fields surrounding the headquarters of the Archdiocese and that I thought it would be great if we could fill those fields with tents and scouts. I think they thought I was crazy.
Eventually we agreed that it was possible, but I was told that events had been done in the past and that I could probably expect about 40 to 50 people. I was a little disappointed, but I thought we could start small and grow the event over the years. So we decided to do it.
I started praying a lot to the Holy Spirit. I wasn’t sure how techno savvy the Spirit is these days (have youever gotten a text message from the Holy Spirit? I’ve never even seen a Tweet from Him), so I also helped Him a little with some Facebook, Google, Web pages, and a lot of networking. The end result was that this small little event went big time really fast. We had over 300 scouts surrounding Savior of the World pastoral center. It didn’t occur to me until later, but if we had wanted to take over the Archdiocese, we actually had a pretty formidable army surrounding the place.
Fortunately for the Archbishop these scouts came not to invade, but to cook and have fun. We had beautiful weather and the day was everything I hoped it would be. Celebrating Mass that evening with all the scouts on the surrounding hill with the sun going down was just perfect. We then had an awesome concert by campfire light and I sat and tried to digest all the BBQ entries I had judged earlier in the day. Meanwhile the lights of scouts camped all around lit up the hill while Cub Scouts chased each other around with flashlights for no apparent reason.
The first annual Holy Smokes was a huge success. I might have had the idea, but it never could have happened without the support of many people, including our great new Scouting Chairman in the Archdiocese, Harold Bradley. Everyone that came said they had an awesome time and will be back next year along with more people. Maybe next year we’ll have a thousand! We better start planning now.
Check out more pictures on our Facebook group