High-schoolers learn how to stand for life at 2013 Pro-Life Boot Camp

Story and Photos by

Juan Guajardo

Correspondent

July 19, 2013

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Nate Young (center), Mary Grace Lewis (to his right), and Ray Yokell (to her right), pray the Rosary outside a Dallas abortion clinic at the Youth For Life Pro-Life Boot Camp 2013 on June 28-30. More than 35 high schoolers participated in the camp at the University of Dallas campus where they listened to pro-life speakers, did volunteer projects, and prayed at a local abortion facility.

It’s a hot Saturday morning in June and on a sidewalk along Record Crossing Street in Dallas, 37 people are praying the Rosary across from an abortion facility. But these aren’t adults. They’re high-school students and participants in the 2013 Youth for Life Boot Camp, conducted June 28-30 at the University of Dallas.

The sight shouldn’t come as a surprise because Sue Laux, Youth for Life coordinator for the Diocese of Fort Worth, says youth and young adults are the most pro-life age group in the U.S.

But that same age group sometimes lacks opportunities for defending life. And that’s where the boot camp comes in. Started 11 years ago by Jacquelyn Smith, Youth for Life coordinator for the Dallas Diocese’s Catholic Pro-Life Committee, the camp is meant to give teens the information, support, and encouragement they need to live out their faith and pro-life stance and share it with others.

“We just feel like this is an important time when they need to hear about pro-life issues,” Laux said. She emphasized that teens are at an age when they are old enough to understand the issues and are affected by them. They have to deal with life issue with their peers. “ they’re not so jaded yet” she said. They understand “that life is precious and should be protected.”

“They need information before they are really thrown into the fire,” she continued, explaining that the college demographic has the highest rate of abortion. “If they get some facts now, it can help them stay strong throughout college.”

And participants do, said Laux. She said many former campers keep active in pro-life activities in their youth groups, parishes, colleges, and schools. Some continue in other Youth For Life events and other diocesan pro-life events. Some participate in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. Some were present to show their support for the sweeping abortion restrictions passed by the Texas Senate during the recent debates over the landmark legislation in Austin.

Not only is the camp unique in that it is an immersion experience in everything pro-life, but it is also the first Catholic pro-life boot camp in the nation, according to Smith and Laux. And over the years, the concept has spread to places as far away as Kansas and Massachusetts.

It’s called “boot camp” for a reason. Divided into two sessions each summer, the camp keeps teens busy with everything from praying outside an abortion facility and celebrating Mass, participating in adoration, praise and worship, and confession, to playing games, coming up with pro-life skits, watching pro-life movies, and learning from prominent pro-life advocates.

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Dave Pomerantz, co-founder of Sonograms on Site and Cupcakes for Life, speaks at the Pro-Life Boot Camp on June 29.

David Pomerantz, co-founder of Sonograms on Site, told the teens during his talk that they are “in a mission field that expires,” explaining that they are only in high school for a few years and have an opportunity to share with their classmates the importance of respecting life.

“You were called. Give it your all,” he said, describing defending life as the single biggest way they can influence their nation because when they stand up for the life of even one baby, they’re not just saving one life, but saving an entire lineage.

To illustrate, he told his young audience how the Nazis put his grandfather, only six-years-old at the time, on a train to a concentration camp. His grandfather’s car was the last, and somehow the connector pin became uncoupled and the car separated from the rest of the train. His grandfather walked toward a nearby town but found that Nazis were rounding up the residents to shoot them. He survived the massacre and hid under the corpses for three days before eventually finding safety at a refugee camp. Pomerantz says the story continually reminds him of the sober reality that he wouldn’t be alive if his grandfather had not miraculously survived the terrors of World War II.

“I realized then the true value of life,” Pomerantz said. “Everybody that God has made has a purpose. So literally if you preserve the child, you preserve the lineage and make a difference far into the future.

The last day of the boot camp featured a talk on same sex attraction by Monica Ashour, executive director of the Theology of the Body Evangelization Team (TOBET).

“It’s a miracle that your lineage, your bloodline was preserved,” he told his audience, noting how their ancestors have survived famines, wars, plagues, and disasters. “You have a purpose.”

Ty Young, 17, a senior at Cistercian High School, said his time at the camp encouraged him to talk to his friends about defending life and to share with them the information he got at the camp.

“I felt it just gave us all a better appreciation for how serious an issue this is,” Young said. “It makes [me] want to get more involved. God has a purpose for us. He wants us to get involved.”

Lillian Hoover, 17, who was attending the pro-life boot camp for her second time, plans to tell her mom to send her younger siblings to the camp when they are old enough and also to stay involved with a local pro-life group and celebrate National Pro-Life Cupcake Day.

“Even though we’re young, we’re still capable of doing something,” Hoover said.

 See Also 

Monica-Headshot.jpgTOBET director Monica Ashour addresses homosexuality at Pro-Life Boot Camp

Monica Ashour, executive director of the Theology of the Body Evangelization Team (TOBET), addressed teens attending the 2013 Pro-Life Boot Camp June 30, explaining the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.

 

Boot-Camp-Button.jpgIt’s a hot Saturday morning in June and on a sidewalk along Record Crossing Street in Dallas, 37 people are praying the Rosary across from an abortion facility. But these aren’t adults. They’re high-school students and participants in the 2013 Youth for Life Boot Camp, conducted June 28-30 at the University of Dallas.

Published (until 7/19/2063)