Welcome to CYO/Camp Howard

October 26, 2020

5 days till National Vocation Awareness Week

#20 in a series of 25 short stories

Left to Right: Krista von Borstel with Dar the Nurse, Wilma, Noryn, Myrna & Sandi the outgoing CYO/CH staff.

July 18, 1997, I walked into the CYO/Camp Howard office for the first time as an employee.  The day coincided with my Mom’s birthday so an easy date to remember.  I shadowed the Executive Director until September 1st, the beginning of the fiscal year.  I learned a ton during those three months and felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from the sitting director.  I also realized we had a mess on our hands.  Relationships with Catholic entities such as the Catholic Sentinel did not exist.  There were no Catholics in the Catholic Youth Organization!  Not that everyone needs to be Catholic but with a name like that, someone should be!  There was a lot of dysfunction everywhere and I realized silently within myself that things needed cleaned up and it would take some time to get it to where it needed to be.

There are so many things I would like to say but feel it would be inappropriate in this format.  Suffice it to say, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.  I found another mentor, this time a business mentor, in Dick Weigel, the Executive Board chair.  His daytime job was helping businesses liquidate that were not making it or helping them get back on their feet.  Camp Howard had just lost $127,000 at camp that summer so we were the perfect business for a guy like Dick.

Vocation awareness comment:  There were moments that had me shaking in my boots again, but each time I knew I had to confront the situations because if I didn’t who would?  I kept asking myself that question.  I continued to be grateful for the time to be able to spend in cleaning things up, but it was a daunting task that took me about 8 years to completely turn around.

2 thoughts on “Welcome to CYO/Camp Howard

  1. I can see that it was a daunting task to get CYO/ Camp Howard back in shape. 8 years is a long time. I’m sure you’ve got it running smoothly & being a functional organization. I certainly hope that some of the kids in CYO Sports are Catholics & some of the coaches too. When I was a teen, CYO had dances at Catholic parishes. I remember going to a dance at Holy Trinity & a dance at St. Cecelia’s. Most of the dances I went to were at SMVA or at Jesuit High. I once went to a dance at Central Catholic in Portland. Does CYO or even parishes have dances any more. I sure don’t see them here in the SF Bay Area: not in the archdiocese of San Francisco nor in the diocese of Oakland (where I live).

    CYO of the Archdiocese of San Francisco not only runs CYO Sports, but also St. Vincent’s School for Boys (School & Residential Facility — several small 6 bed cottages — for boys with Emotional Disorders who need something more restrictive than an ED SpEd class in public school) and St. Vincent’s Family Based Crisis Program (modeled after Homebuilders, a intensive program to prevent out of home placement) where I did a paid internship while getting my MS in Marriage & Family & School Counseling. It was cool to get a pay check from CYO San Francisco. I loved working on the St. Vincent’s campus: all the lovely old buildings, the grotto for Our Lady & the chapel. https://marinmagazine.com/community/history/st-vincents-then-and-now/ Camp Armstrong in Occidental California is jointly funded & operated by CYO & Catholic Charities.

    I’ve stayed at Camp Armstrong several times, but never as CYO camp. While in High School I attended a Humanitarian Skills Workshop Camp there that was run by the Red Cross.. When I was a young adult Catholic youth group leader, we went on a couple of retreats at Camp Armstrong. It is a beautiful place.

    I would love to live in Occidental. It is close to the Russian River and surrounded by Redwoods. It is also near Sonoma & Napa Valley Wine Country. I have a few cousins who live there.

    I think I may have gone to CYO Day Camp at Camp Howard, but I can’t remember for sure. I know I went to CYO Day Camp in Akron, Ohio before we moved to Beaverton. I remember going to Day Camp in Beaverton, but it may have been through the Park & Recreation Department. I did go to Girl Scout Camp when we lived in Beaverton.

    You are probably wondering why I respond to / comment on your blog. I am really enjoying it. Back in 1975-1976 I considered entering the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. I had attended SMVA from 4th through 10th grade (We moved to SF Bay Area) and loved many SSMO sisters. I wanted to enter religious life so it made sense to visit the SSMO Motherhouse & spend a week there. I liked it very much, but felt drawn to the Daughters of St. Paul in Boston, MA. I liked their apostolate.

    I completed my postulancy there, but went home for summer vacation & chose not to return. Another postulant, Theresa Martin, had also attended SMVA (I know it’s Valley Catholic now). I often wonder if I had entered SSMO or the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael (I attended Dominican University of California in San Rafael) whether I might have stayed. I was terribly homesick the entire year of my postulancy and the DSP were very strict at that time. I totally relate to your feeling, “If I don’t do it, who will.,” in regard to many tasks I undertake in life. I’m a Special Ed teacher and certainly that has an element of “If I don’t do it, who will.”

    Please say hello to Sr. John Therese, my violin teacher and orchestra leader for 5 years. If Sr. Dismaria is still around let her know that I use the Spanish that she taught me every day now in my Tk-1st SpEd classroom & in communicating with parents. I do very well writing letters in Spanish. I also still remember the Our Father & Hail Mary in Spanish. I took 2 additional years of Spanish after we moved to San Rafael, CA, but a lot of what I remember I learned in Sr. Dismaria’s class. I watch a lot of Spanish television. I have difficulty understanding Mexican shows, but understand the dialogue in shows from Spain & various South American countries. Many of the sisters that I love have passed away. But ask Sr. John Therese & Sr. Dismaria who else might know me. Thank you for your blog. Denise Holladay

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