Dear Adult Leaders,

Thank you for choosing to be part of Catholic HEART Workcamp. You have made great sacrifices to participate in a week of service with teenagers. You will be blessed for your commitment. The following pages are specifically designed for adults participating as “chaperones” and youth leaders. We need participation from every adult that attends CHWC as it’s impossible to have a successful week without your full cooperation and involvement.

We hope you’re ready to fasten your seat belt! We look to you to be fully engaged at your worksites and oversee your group’s teens at all times. You will be exhausted at the end of the week, but the rewards and satisfaction will make it all worthwhile. You are a kingdom builder and part of the anointing power of the Holy Spirit! You may even be personally affected spiritually and find yourself saying “I got more out of CHWC than our youth group members.” We serve an awesome God who wants to reach you in a new way. Welcome aboard and thanks again for giving a week of your time to serve with Catholic HEART Workcamp.

CHWC Office Team

Thank you for agreeing to serve as an adult leader for Catholic HEART Workcamp! Without you, we would not be able to offer the Workcamp. Whether you are a veteran youth leader or a parent jumping on board at the last minute, you are a vital part of Catholic HEART Workcamp’s success. We are aware of the fact many adults make huge sacrifices to participate, including many adults using their vacation time at their jobs to attend. Sleeping on the floor, eating camp food and dealing with adolescent hormones will surely get you bonus points in Heaven! You will not have much time to relax but you will be impacting teens and making a difference in the lives of the people you serve. The CHWC staff is very grateful for your time, commitment and effort. Being on the front line and in the trenches with teenagers is not an easy calling. Thank you for being an inspiration to us.

You will be working with others to share a powerful, life changing experience with your youth group. The focus of this Workcamp is on service, relationships, Jesus and having fun. If you look at CHWC only as an experience for teens, you will miss out on an opportunity for the spirit to move in your life. We have heard time and time again from adults that they receive just as much, if not more, out of their participation with CHWC than the teens. The bottom line is to have an open mind and an open heart when the week begins.

We need you to support all Workcamp activities and to help us enforce rules, even if you don’t agree with them. As adults, it would be easy to sleep during evening program, stay up past the designated “lights out” time or escape for a *real* cup of coffee. But CHWC needs your cooperation to make this week of service successful. We are asking you to be humble enough to fall under the authority of CHWC, even if you have to bite your tongue. We are all in ministry for our Catholic teens and the people that are served. If you have some ideas on how CHWC can improve, by all means let us know after the camp is over through the evaluations that we send out. We listen closely to adults who have taken time out to process and reflect on their experience and have constructive feedback to share with us.

Here is a video to help you prepare for your CHWC experience.


A positive attitude is important especially when stress, problems and other difficulties arise. Your reaction will influence how your teens respond. Your attitude can make or break Workcamp. For example, when something goes wrong (like the school water heater breaks and there’s no hot water for showers or supplies arrive late at your worksite), teens will watch how you handle the situation. If they witness you accepting a setback with a good attitude, they too will accept it and work with what they have. You will impact the lives of young people by offering faith to them through your speech, conduct, hard work and willingness to pray and participate in activities. The bottom line is you are a role model. We need your help and support in expressing enthusiasm and creating a positive atmosphere. Your participation in every part of the morning and evening program is vital. Your teens will participate in planned activities if you are participating too. Please do not plan activities by yourself or with your group that would conflict with Workcamp scheduled events. We encourage you not to go off campus by yourself or with your teens during free time. If you do have any negative feelings about CHWC facilities, staff or program, we ask that you do not talk to the teens in a derogatory manner about CHWC.


A work team typically consists of one adult and six teens. We do our best to have a mix of experienced and inexperienced campers, both male and female, from various churches and states. A few teams will have more than one adult. Your team will work together all week, usually on one project. In some instances, teams will switch work projects throughout the week.

Each work team will have one adult leader. You will not have one specific team role, rather you will oversee all the roles and make sure your team is running smoothly. For example, if the Prayer/Share time after lunch is not going well, encourage members of your group to share in greater depth on the question being asked. Take time out to get to know each of your team members. Of course you will be working side-by-side with the young people, but don’t get so wrapped up with repair work that you forget about the needs of your team members; be a relationship builder. Your function is to work alongside the teens and provide support and encouragement to them.

The adult’s role on the work team is not to dictate and “take charge,” but rather to encourage all group members to work together as a team cooperatively and constructively. This can be a stretch for adults who are the “get it done” types. An exception to this rule would be on the last day of work, if you find your team needs to work faster in order for your project to be completed, by all means “take charge” and encourage productivity. Teams work best when they discuss problems and make decisions together; no one enjoys being bossed around. Seek input from everyone and when your team encounters a problem, work together to reach a consensus. Dictators can ruin a Workcamp experience, so we encourage you to create an atmosphere of support, acceptance, affirmation, cooperation and shared decision-making. Adults need to walk the middle road between allowing young people to assume responsibility and guiding the experience of the work team. Become part of the team instead of being in charge of it.

There may be times when you will need to intervene and assume a leadership role, like in an emergency situation or if someone’s safety is at risk. You certainly need to use your developed resources of maturity, common sense and experience to assist your work group in the event of an emergency. We also ask you to step in when you see any unacceptable behavior such as: use of profanity, put-downs, uncooperative attitude, misuse of materials, paint fights or situations in which someone may get hurt. The use of power tools is limited at CHWC, so it’s important you oversee the use of any electrical equipment. When using electric saws or drills, make sure the measurements are correct. Also, since we do not always know which houses have been painted with lead based paint (which can be hazardous), CHWC’s rule of thumb is for campers to always wear a mask and goggles when scraping. Your job will be to make sure the teens wear a mask and goggles. Safety is always our #1 concern and top priority.


As an adult leader, we need you to be responsible for your teens during afternoon and evening free time and in your sleeping quarters. We need you to make sure each member of your group is accounted for during morning/evening programs and before you go to sleep. At 10:30pm, we ask campers to go to their rooms and get ready for bed. Please be in the hallways and move your campers along to brush their teeth, say good night to their friends and get ready for bed. We also need your assistance in enforcing “lights out” at 11:00 p.m. Encourage your young people to keep quiet after “lights out”.


It is understood that some young people will clearly demonstrate the need for more supervision than others. CHWC would like to leave the task of handling any behavior problems with your teens to your Youth Minister and your adult volunteers. The CHWC staff will only become involved if:

  1. The situation requires immediate attention.
  2. Per your request.
  3. If a youth needs to be sent home.

If you see a young person (whether he/she is or is not from your group) doing something that is disruptive, destructive or a safety risk, we need you to intervene and encourage this person to stop. Don’t be afraid to use your authority in a kind and constructive way to resolve the negative behavior. Keep in mind, there may be times you are tired and stressed out but losing your cool rarely solves anything. Stay calm and pray for patience and gentleness to help you deal with the situation.

If a problem continues, talk to their group leader. If you see someone totally disregarding the rules, contact the Workcamp Manager, Team Captain or Director and make them aware of the situation.


Occasionally, you will have a team member who will work as little as possible. He/she is not participating and would rather sit back and let everyone else work. You may even wonder, “Why did this person come to a Workcamp?” Here are some ways to deal with slackers:

  • Pray for the person and for patience. Specifically ask God to change this person’s work habits and give you wisdom to handle the situation.
  • Pull this person aside, share your concerns and talk kindly to him/her one on one.
  • Ask during the devotion time “how do you think we are working together as a team? Do you think everyone is doing their fair share of work?” Try to have other team members answer this question instead of you.
  • If a person has someone else on the team who has become a friend and together they are slacking/goofing off, try to split them up. Ask them to do separate jobs.
  • Compliment and encourage him/her to keep working hard. Try asking, “I’ve noticed you look tired (or are not working as hard as you did yesterday) are you feeling okay? Can I help in any way?”
  • Ask this person to work with you on a project.
  • Talk to their group leader back at the base camp about your concerns. Maybe ask the leader to talk to this person about your concerns.
  • Ask another team member to speak with him/her one on one about your concerns.


What Is Four Corners?

  • An opportunity to experience the power of prayer and forgiveness of God.
  • An opportunity for an adult leader to pray for a teen’s personal concerns, needs, hurt, stress, problem, worry, fear or more faith.
  • An opportunity to release burdens, clear up conscience, reflect on personal hopes, dreams, worries, and disappointments in a non-judgmental atmosphere.
  • An opportunity for any participant to visit the Forgiveness Corner for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Local priests join us this even to help with Confessions.*
  • An opportunity for peer ministry to happen naturally by having one young person comfort, offer hope, understanding, encouragement and prayer for another teen’s concern, problem, fear, hurt, pressure or worry.
  • An opportunity for friends within a youth group to reconcile, mend fences and overcome tension within a personal relationship.

A meeting will take place on Wednesday after the work day to explain in more depth to the chaperones.

*Regarding Reconciliation, it is not mandatory but it is strongly suggested that campers participate in this sacrament.

In my experience as a priest at Four Corners, is that it is a spiritually charged yet peaceful time of prayer. It is one of the most memorable parts of the Workcamp in the youth’s minds. I hear this over and over again from the 40 to 50 kids we take as a parish. The confessions I have heard have been heart-felt and profound. In my opinion they almost always reflect a thorough examination of conscience—especially given the length of many of the lines, which itself speaks volumes. While it’s true that for adults the atmosphere for confession at Four Corners may not seem as placid as standing quietly in line in Church on a sleepy Saturday afternoon, teens ordinarily don’t experience it that way. Four Corners is peaceful to them and deeply moving. Many youths have come back to the active practice of their Catholic Faith as a result of it.

Catholic HEART Workcamp aims to reach a broad spectrum of youth. It casts a wide net and has a strong evangelistic note to it, yet it does take the opportunity to catechize as much as possible given the context. I have found it to be always right in line with the Church’s teaching and devotional life. Despite the fact that there is so much we as adults would like to say, there is a limit to how much explicit teaching can realistically be done.

Fr. Jeff Lucas (Diocese of Erie, PA)
The atmosphere of the Four Corners evening including the music, witness talk, presence of priests for Reconciliation, video, skit, and candles all set the stage for each teen to pray about what is important to them at that time. The music and the program on the Four Corners evening opens so many hearts to the need for this sacrament that the teens will wait in long lines for confession to a priest. The lines of teens waiting for the Sacrament of Reconciliation sometimes is long but CHWC does their best job to have as many priests involved from the local community. Unfortunately, not as many priests are available that are needed because of clergy summer vacation and other commitments. In regards to the other three corners, my teens see adults and their peers offering heartfelt prayers to God. This is one of the best examples of Catholic Christian life that we could give them.
An excerpt from a Religious Education Director who has attended CHWC regarding the atmosphere and environment of reconciliation at four corners

  • An opportunity for campers to gather with friends to meet new people and socialize.
  • An opportunity to force or manipulate campers to pray. Most campers choose to take advantage of this prayer experience, but if a person chooses not to go to a corner, they are asked to sit quietly, reflect and/or listen to background music so as not to disturb others that are participating.
  • An opportunity for a youth leader to focus on a person’s “erroneous” actions.
  • An opportunity to shame, reprimand, scold or put down a teenager’s behavior.
  • An opportunity for adults to be or to wear their “parent hat” and treat camper as a child (even if they are your child!)

The adult leaders are instructed to keep anything regarding the camper’s moral behavior (such as drinking, sexual activity, smoking, etc.) in confidence. Four Corners is meant to be a safe environment for healing, prayer and release of burdens. Adults are asked to encourage campers to attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation to seek forgiveness and healing. In the unlikely case an adult leader is listening/praying with a teenager and senses or hears anything about the camper being in danger, being sexually or physically abused, suicidal, or harming him/herself (whether in the past or currently), the adult leader is instructed to share this information and his/her concerns with the teen’s youth leader. The adult leader needs to let the camper know he/she will have to share the incident with his/her youth leader for the welfare of the camper. The responsibilities of the camper’s youth leader is to follow up, share incident with his/her parents and if needed, report it to the local legal authorities.