United States and Canada. From 29 June to 24 July, over 250 children, aged between 7 and 13, from different states were able to experience the Salesian family spirit through the Virtual Summer Camp. Through an online platform, the children connected twice a day to participate in various live activities with Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Novices, Postulants, and young people of the Verification and Orientation Period belonging to St. Joseph Province of the United States and Canada ( SEC) and to Mary Immaculate Province of the United States (SUO).
The days began with creative videos realized by the Postulants, of the Salesian ‘Good Morning’. Each week, the children guided by two ‘Salesian explorers’ and by Mary Help of Christians, traveled through the continents of the world in search of a ‘virtue gem’.
During the first week in search of the ‘gratitude gem’, the children explored the European continent and met Don Bosco, Mother Mazzarello, Mamma Margherita, and Pope Francis. In the second week, the participants left for Asia to find the ‘courage gem’, where they met St. Luigi Versiglia. The third week saw the young explorers engaged in the journey between the Americas, in search of the ‘creativity gem‘, led by Blessed Maria Troncatti. In the past week, they landed on the African continent. Sean Devereux, an English Salesian missionary in Somalia, helped the children find the ‘generosity gem’.
Live animation consisted of virtual games, manual activities, virtual tours in different countries of the world, dance lessons, reading the good news, songs, talent shows. In addition, a time of the day was reserved for prayer and virtual Mass. Between one live-streaming and the next, the children were free to browse the website to enjoy the different pre-recorded activities. FMA, young people in formation, and lay people from both Provinces collaborated in making the videos on how to create small works of art, simple recipes, scientific projects, learn simple words in foreign languages, dance, sing, and get to know the continents of the world.
Certainly, because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the experience was different from having hundreds of children physically present. However, the FMA experimented with the possibility of establishing significant relationships just the same, as one participant underlined: “The most difficult thing now to leave the field!” One parent observed: “It seems that the FMA and the Novices are part of our family.” And another thanked: “We liked the virtual field, because it gave us the opportunity to see our daughter interacting with other people safely during the pandemic and we also got closer to God. Her days were full of activities! She lived a spring in solitude, but it wasn’t like this during the summer, with all these activities and friendships. Thank you!”.