Lighting the Fire

The lessons and fellowship formed during a week-long stay at Legendary Lodge have a lasting impact

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains on the edge of Salmon Lake, a spirited game is unfolding throughout the rustic campgrounds of Legendary Lodge. Teenagers in costume are trying to guess which virtue or vice the other represents. Amid peals of laughter, these high school campers are learning the tenets of the Catholic faith, building leadership skills and developing friendships to last a lifetime.

Often referred to as “the jewel of the diocese,” Legendary Lodge is the summer youth camp owned and operated by the Diocese of Helena, Montana. From June to August, the lodge welcomes nearly 900 children from the 5th to 12th grade level. Focused on faith formation, the lodge provides a uniquely Catholic experience for young campers to live, play and pray. “It’s a family tradition—many campers have been coming for nine years, just as their siblings did,” said Dan Bartleson, seasonal director of Legendary Lodge.

Catholic Extension has been providing support for the diocese’s youth ministry programs for 10 years. The investment of nearly $300,000 in developing these young disciples has already yielded strong returns. Lessons and fellowship formed during a week-long stay at Legendary Lodge have a lasting impact. Counselors and leaders work closely with Bishop George Thomas, area priests, youth ministers and parents to ensure the ideas covered in camp build in momentum long after the campers have left Legendary Lodge. Thanks to ongoing catechesis, parishes throughout the diocese are seeing their young members continue participation in church activities year-round.

By building faith and inspiring hope in youthful disciples, they become the true jewels of the diocese and church, ready to set the world on fire with Christ’s love.

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