In response to the proposal made by our brothers, Thinnakorn Latoo and Tanongsak Bikho, who were recently ordained to the priesthood, the First Idente Youth Camp was held in Chiang Mai, located in northern Thailand, May 8-12, 2017. In 2007, when our brother Komkrit was working in Wiang Pa Pao, named by Bishop Joseph spiritual director and education inspector, our brother Eduardo Domínguez organized a Motus Christi with camping and recreational activities and the use of tents for the young people of Wiang Pa Pao in Sarapi, with the help of our brothers Teerawit, Thinnakorn, and Tanongsak. That was an Idente Youth pre-camp, though still lacking the symbols and complete program of Idente Youth. In that same year, our brothers Komkrit and Teerawit were involved in an accident and returned to our Heavenly Father. That painful event also led to a halt to the camps in Wiang Pa Pao. Ten years later, in the wake of special occurrences, such as the ordination of Thinnakorn and Tanongsak and the audience of our President, Rev. Jesús Fernández, with Bishop Francis Xavier of Chiang Mai, we again received the opportunity to help on weekends at Wiang Pa Pao.
In view of these brothers’ experience in Italy as well, the right occasion arose for the first Idente Youth Camp in Thailand. These two Missionaries from that area are quite familiar with camping conditions. They were born in the mountains, where life is like a permanent campsite, free from creature comforts and exposed to all kinds of needs. Families usually live in houses made of tree trunks, for example, and have no furniture, eating their meals while sitting on the ground. They have no gas for cooking and use the branches of the trees for fuel. Sometimes the kitchen is inside, adequately separated by cement and sand. At night, when it gets cold, they gather around the fire to keep warm and tell stories about their adventures and tribulations, sharing the music which some of those present spontaneously provide. The mountain people are invariably quite generous and hospitable and prepare abundant food in order to invite anyone visiting. Without refrigerators, they must consume everything and serve any leftovers for breakfast. They all cooperate in the midst of nature and find guidance in the oral traditions passed on by their elders as the fruit of their notable efforts. They solve problems with their natural talents and mutual help. Since they unflinchingly deal with cold and heat, bearing all with good humor, preparing and holding a camp is a satisfying challenge for these brothers. Nineteen young men took part in this first camp. We hope that on the next occasion there will also be girls from the Church of the Nativity of Mary, where our brother Komkrit was the first pastor. A bust in his memory has been placed there. One of our brothers goes to that area every weekend to celebrate Mass. The Head of the Camp this year was Thinnakorn, who from the outset organized all four sectors of the activity, distributed responsibilities among teams, and worked out a budget for expenses. Tanongsak took charge of cooking and supplies. Thinnakorn, with the help of all, built two bathroom facilities, a task requiring significant effort.
During the camp the flag hymn was sung in the morning and the evening, in a version translated by Thinnakorn into Thai from Italian. Shirts were made with the emblem and motto of Idente Youth. Lively games and competitive sports were organized, drawing activities, and so on. Seminars were held on law, the self-sufficient economy propagated by King Rama IX, and integral health. The campfire took place nearly every day, with enthusiastic participation. Mass was celebrated daily and included attendance by people from outside the campsite, and the young campers prepared the accompanying music with dedication.
There was a day-long excursion to a national park, as well as an olympics, with prizes and diplomas.
This camp stood out for the virtue of generosity. Tents were lent us in Wiang Pa Pao, and kitchen utensils were provided by a nearby Buddhist monastery. Moreover, several families volunteered to help with cooking and even brought dinners for everyone. Some of the women Missionaries also helped with both cooking and other activities. Yotsaya deserves special mention: with her nursing background, she spoke to the young people about integral health involving body and spirit. The experience was very positive for all, especially the young campers from the area, who quickly became Idente Youth teachers. At one of the Masses we recalled that our Founder had an intense camping experience in Valsaín, with the call to holiness; as a result, our camps are not just recreational—rather, we place our lives and talents at the service of all, in the presence of our Heavenly Father. This camp would not have been possible without the dedication and unity of everyone, along with the intercession of our brothers Eduardo, Komkrit, and Teerawit. Clearly, our Father Founder inspired and stimulated us with his example.
The general impression we all received is that we were not the same afterwards—the spirit of Idente Youth had sealed our lives. The camp does not end, as we sing when raising and lowering the flags, but spurs us towards the ideal of holiness and spirit of fraternity until our encounter with our Heavenly Father, whose symbol is the skyblue banner, which remains raised up at the moment of the camp’s conclusion, in expectation of the next occasion. The white stones around the flagpole are also still there, manifesting the ideal of holiness for each of us.
We sincerely thank our President, Rev. Jesús Fernández, and all our superiors and brothers and sisters, who have made this event possible with their prayer, support, and economic assistance.