Follow Up on Camping

A few weeks ago, I sent an email to my boys’ Scout troop about camping over a Sunday and not providing an opportunity for the boys to attend Mass.  Since the troop belongs to my church, I included our pastor on the distro list.  A few hours later, he sent this response:

Thank you for forwarding to me a copy of your email to {the Scoutmaster}.  I think you will find him to be very sympathetic to your concerns.
I’m not familiar with the trip you are referencing.  When asked in the past, I have celebrated the Holy Eucharist on Sunday mornings during Cub Scout camping trips.  It is a wonderful experience … celebrating Mass in the “cathedral” of God’s creation!
For the record, I have not been asked nor have I given permission for scouts to miss Mass. 
To help resolve the conflict, some basic education may be required.  You are right that it is a precept of the Church to attend Sunday Mass.  This is in accord with the third commandment.  This obligation cannot be “dispensed” by a bishop since keeping holy the Sabbath Day is Divine Law, not ecclesiastical law.  The Church does foresee that it could very well be “impossible” to participate in the celebration of the Eucharist (for instance, if you were on a cruise or otherwise in an area without access to a priest or Catholic Church).  These conditions could very well apply to a remote backpacking trip.  Nevertheless, the divine mandate remains.  Canon Law prescribes that there should be a service of the Liturgy of the Word (c. 1248.2) and the day should be treated as a Sunday – different than other days.  Note that the canon specifies “impossible” not merely “difficult” or “inconvenient.”  Hence, those who miss Mass to attend a sporting event or a theme park are guilty of a grave sin. 
I would think that in {national park where the boys were going} there may be priests willing to drive in … as long as the troop is flexible in the hour of the celebration of Mass.  If it is “impossible” to celebrate Mass, a Catholic service of the Word should be provided.
I hope this helps!  Please keep me informed on how the conversation progresses and let me know how I can assist.

Your Pastor

 I was elated by this support.  

The following day, the leader who questioned my son’s reason for not going on the trip sent an apology and a sincere explanation that he in no way meant to dissuade Fritz from his religious convictions.  Of course, I know he did not.  Unfortunately, though, the bad example remains, and actions speak louder than words.  He did mention planning for future camp-outs, so I do have hope that when they look at a calendar and talk about what trips they will do, somebody, somewhere, will say, “You know, if those Reitemeyer boys can’t get to Mass, they won’t go.”  And maybe countless other parents will be happy, not knowing why exactly the troop started making little changes, but just grateful that they did.

7 thoughts on “Follow Up on Camping

  1. Stick to it! This is a good first step.
    We just found out that the first camping trip Little Brother would be able to attend as a Boy Scout is scheduled for…wait for it…EASTER weekend.
    Our troop is sponsored by our Catholic parish.
    My husband is planning an in-person chat with the Scoutmaster about this, tonight.

  2. Barb, that is outrageous. I can't imagine what they were thinking.

  3. Thanks for posting the reply! So glad he supported you. Hopefully this is the start of some change. And that's a good reminder when we get discouraged by what is going in the world right now. Sometimes, WE have to be the change, one person at a time.

  4. I think the Scoutmaster is not a churchgoer, so it wasn't on his radar screen. It will be later, though. And Easter is a little early this year, so I'm betting that the guy saw a March date open at the camp and took it. So I can guess what they were thinking, but now that it's obvious that it's Easter weekend, they need to fix this.

  5. Thank you for posting your reply. We don't allow our son to go hunting unless one of the other Catholic relatives will bring him to Mass on Sunday or he comes home in time for the Sunday evening Mass (they don't go when hunting – but go when camping – apparently it's more of an inconvenience when hunting). I plan to reference this if it comes up again. Right now we are looked upon as maybe “too religious” but we've stuck to our guns and now they bring him. Again, thank you. People need to step up and point this out….little by little we can make a difference…or little by little people will be losing what they have…

  6. Basically the first interaction I had with my now-husband was when he said he wouldn't be able to attend a college honors retreat if he couldn't attend Mass. As a non-Catholic at the time, it greatly surprised me. We arranged an early ride back to campus for him and several other Catholics, only to have them get in a terrible accident. But that accident was really the start of US, so now that it's ten years later and we know everyone is okay, we can be thankful for God's plan. And I'm so thankful he is the faithful Catholic he is, so keep raising those boys right!

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