Vatican tees up summer fun with sports camp

Estate Ragazzi in Vaticano Estate Ragazzi in Vaticano website. Screen capture.

After weeks stuck indoors, the children of Vatican employees will be able to stretch their legs, and grow in their faith, at a sports camp hosted inside the Vatican this summer.

"Estate Ragazzi in Vaticano" is a camp for the children of Vatican City State employees in the style of the oratory of St. John Bosco.

And it is not letting ongoing coronavirus safety measures get in the way of an "educational, sporty, and fun" experience for kids ages 5-14, one organizer told CNA.

"What we are trying to do is to not change the way in which kids play, but to change the games" to comply with the safety measures in place, said Pasquale Acunzo.

Acunzo works for "Tutto in una Festa" which runs children's events and is partnering with the Vatican's Salesian community to put on the day camp, which will take place in July.

The idea for the camp, he said, started from Pope Francis' desire to welcome kids to the Vatican in the model of the Salesian oratory.

Salesian Fr. Franco Fontana, chaplain of the Vatican Museums and gendarmes, told Vatican News that organizers wanted a way to help parents working at the Vatican, many of whom will be back in the office this summer. 

With camp activities taking place inside the Pope Paul VI hall, the Vatican Gardens, and other sport facilities inside the city state, moms and dads will be able to have their kids nearby while working.

"After months in which families have been forced to stay at home, parents will need to entrust their children to trusted people who know how to restore hope, enthusiasm, and to teach their children safely," Fontana said.

The theme of the camp will be "happiness and the beatitudes."

"We are all called to happiness. We look for it, we all want it even though we know that it is not easy to find or maintain it. But what is true happiness?" the camp website says.

"Almost 2,000 years ago Jesus of Nazareth gave an extraordinary answer. He used eight sentences that all begin with 'Blessed…' and are called the 'Beatitudes.'"

Bishop Fernando Vergez, secretary general of the Vatican City State, wrote about the camp in a letter to parents in March, saying "summer should be, especially after these months, a beautiful and fruitful time for the growth of young people."

The time risks being filled with television and video games, Vergez said. "A lot of free time needs to be filled with meaning."

Activities will include prayer, workshops, group and individual sports, games, swimming, and other outdoor activities.

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