Catholic HEART Workcamp is based in Orlando, FL. The Founders/Directors are Steve and Lisa Walker who love young people and God. After 17 years as Parish Youth Ministers in Pittsburgh, Houston and Orlando, the Walkers’ have devoted themselves to the development and management of the Catholic HEART Workcamp on a full time basis. They not only are experienced Youth Ministers but National Speakers and Workcamp veterans.

The first Workcamp was established in 1993 and has increased in size every year. The Workcamps were established to offer quality service projects and evangelical programs for Catholic young people and their leaders. Whenever possible, Catholic HEART Workcamp works hand in hand with the host city diocese. Catholic HEART Workcamp continues to faithfully and enthusiastically serve the Roman Catholic Church in obedience to the Magisterium and strict faithfulness to the Church teachings.

Each Workcamp is equipped with 10 summer staff members, adult associate staff members, a nurse, Priest, and camp Manager.  These members are a guarantee the Workcamp will run smoothly.


Begin with a plan of action if you have not already. Ask for your free HEART Workcamp promotional DVD and show it to your pastor, adult leaders, kids and parents. Have a sign – up sheet for those who are interested. Send a follow-up letter to those who have signed up with a deadline for deposits. Send in a $90.00 deposit for each young person and adult. Have monthly meetings with those who have paid deposits to prepare, plan and build community.


Any students who will be entering the 8th Grade in the fall of 2018 who are serious about serving others. High school students as well as high school graduates and college students. We require one adult (21 years and older) for every five young people. Next Level camps are open to those entering the 9th grade and some are open to 8th graders. To see a list of these and all of the camps click here. Please bring at least one adult male and one adult female if you are bringing both female and male young people.


Although we love children, CHWC is a camp for teenagers.  We cannot accommodate or permit small children at camp. For the safety of all, and to follow the guidelines a school or diocese may request,  pertaining to lodging  in the school,  as well with liability insurance restrictions,  Catholic Heart Workcamp must have this policy in place.


We welcome groups of all sizes. Even if only a few young people participate, your group will have a great experience. We cannot accommodate individual youth registrations.


Facilities at local high schools will be used for lodging, showers and food service. Bring your own sleeping bag and air mattress. Adults and young people will be sleeping in classrooms. There are separate sleeping areas for girls and guys. There are no facilities or time allotted for doing laundry. Camp Showers: Most of the schools have “communal” showers, so make sure to bring a bathing suit (and towel). Some schools offer private showers with curtains. CHWC is concerned about the privacy and safety of our campers. In accordance with the “Bishops Charter for the Protection of Children” and to ensure the safety of all campers, we will designate separate shower times for youth and adults (21 and older). Due to some diocese’s needs we have incorporated a young adult (18-20) time as well. There are a couple of locations that the facilities do not allow for Young Adults to have separate shower times, please see the camp info page of the city you are attending if this is an issue. Times subject to change.

Shower Schedule:

Morning: Monday-Friday
Adults 5:00am-6:00am
Young Adults 6:00am-6:30am
Teens 6:30am-7:15am  
Afternoon: Monday-Thursday
Teens 3:00pm-4:30pm
Young Adults 4:30pm-5:15pm
Adults 5:15pm-7:00pm 
Evening: Sunday-Friday
Teens 9:30pm-10:00pm
Young Adults 10:00pm-10:30pm
Adults 10:30pm-11:00pm


Each day will be spent either renewing homes by doing such things as painting, housecleaning, yard work, and minor home repairs (experienced trouble shooters will visit the sites to check on workmanship and provide help when needed); or helping at day care centers for low income families by assisting with the children’s programs, working at homeless shelters or helping at centers that distribute food to the needy.


We work in cooperation with various agencies in each city to choose the sites and write up work descriptions. These agencies work to improve the lives of low- income families, children and the elderly. CHWC hopes campers will develop more of a heart like Jesus and share His compassion and love for the world. Our hope is campers will be stimulated by their service experience and be motivated to continue in their own communities.

As Catholics, we are called to “serve the least of these.”  We have a responsibility to help others…..which in the case of CHWC includes the poor and middle class. Jesus constantly talked about helping and feeding the poor. CHWC hopes the service week will give campers an opportunity to grow in their Catholic faith. Many campers are able to learn more about God from the residents they serve. Some feel they have met God through a person with a low income. CHWC hopes campers can see the incredible generosity and hospitality from people who are considered “the least of these.”

CHWC hopes campers will have the opportunity to experience who and what impoverished people are all about. It is a humbling experience. God gives grace to the poor. Their hearts are really big. CHWC hopes in the process campers develop meaningful relationships with the people they serve. CHWC wants to teach campers to get beyond their selfishness and teach them to walk with Christ among the poor. Following Jesus can be hard and sacrificial. The things Jesus loves sometimes can be uncomfortable or disgusting to campers (a person who has a house full of junk , hoarded stuff and has cockroaches running around is an example that comes to mind). The questions is can campers forget about themselves and truly follow him in low income neighborhoods? They may have to make sacrifices and get out of the comfort zone but the benefits are substantial.

Our hope is a CHWC week will raise questions such as why is there poverty, why do the richer get richer and the poor get poorer? CHWC desires campers return home with the conviction they need and can do something about improving our world and making it a better place to live for others. CHWC wants them to learn how much they have and be grateful and not take it for granted.

CHWC hopes the faith of campers is radicalized and is motivated to advancing His kingdom as a lifestyle, not just a week-long commitment. Our hope is that they will take steps of faith to uproot their comfortable, predictable, secure life and continue on a path of the extraordinary lifestyle that is following Christ.

CHWC hopes that through seeing poverty up close and personal they will discover the richness of Christ. It is something that is easily taken for granted. It gets lost in the pursuit of earthly possessions and pleasures. There is nothing wrong with material wealth. God blesses people with nice things. But He also wants us to understand what it means to be more dependant on Him. God wants us to understand the suffering and poverty of others, so when He blesses someone with wealth, they will have the heart to help the poor with their blessings.

CHWC hopes campers will go away with an exposure and better understanding of what it means to be poor.There are many different levels of poverty. In America, many claim to be poor if they cannot buy the latest clothing or a new car every few years. Others say they are poor because they have to hold two or more jobs to make ends meet. Some rely on government assistance programs to meet their needs, because they have been unable to do it on their own. Still others have no place to call home. They beg in the streets, or dig in dumpsters for their meals.

CHWC goal is to give campers an opportunity to open themselves up more to the light of Christ and be more concerned about the things that concerns God …which is helping the poor. Working and serving in poor communities raise serious questions for people who live in a ‘cultures of comfort’ vs. a ‘culture of poverty’. In the ease and affluence of our lives, making sacrifices can seem unreasonable. The world we live in whispers in our ears that we are entitled to hold on to every comfort – that we have a right to do so. This is not to say, our campers are not needed to serve in middle to upper class neighborhoods. According to Mother Teresa it is among the wealthy that we can find the most terrible poverty of all – loneliness. Wealthy countries like the USA have the highest rates of depression, suicide and isolation.


The Workcamp staff takes supervision and safety very seriously. Besides the Workcamp adult staff, each group is required to bring one adult sponsor for every five young people to provide supervision at the work sites and the school. The Workcamp will not involve young people in any kind of dangerous projects. No youth will be allowed to use power tools at all. Adults are as long as they have previous experience. Every participant is asked to bring protective safety gear. Every young person is matched to a project they can handle. To compensate for the hot weather, work campers are supplied with plenty of liquids to drink and given frequent breaks. Each residence and worksite is inspected beforehand. Home repair projects are well organized and prepared. First-aid kits and emergency care instructions will be available at every worksite. Medical facilities are located a short distance from every site. Every safety precaution is exercised to produce a safe and injury free atmosphere.

CHWC’s bottom line is the safety of its campers. As a service organization this is our top priority in choosing which communities we will be involved with. Unfortunately, no neighborhood is totally safe and secure. There are no communities free of crime. Families and people are victimized in upper-class nice neighborhoods. Crime occurs in wealthy neighborhoods and middle class suburbs. If a work team feels unsafe CHWC will remove them from their worksite.

CHWC policy is to remove work teams from the worksite if they do not feel comfortable. In some cases, teams choose to finish their work project….even though there is criminal activity going on around them…such as someone selling drugs down the street. CHWC policy is to contact the local police when we have work teams in neighborhoods that have a high crime rate. In some situations they have placed a squad car close by or in front of the house we were working in. They often will send additional patrol cars through the community and keep a closer eye on it. CHWC does not send work campers when there is a clear risk of violence, crime or danger or deemed unsafe for our campers. CHWC dos not haphazardly send teens into unsafe neighborhoods. The safety of campers is our highest concern. CHWC considers the welfare of campers much more important than improving the living conditions or a particular person. Campers are not required to work in conditions or communities that make them feel unsafe or uncomfortable.


If we are to follow the passions of God and be concerned about the plight of the poor, CHWC needs to be in communities which are not considered the best places to live. That being said, CHWC does occasionally work in middle class/wealthy areas in which there is obvious need – either the home is in apparent need of repairs or the resident physically can not complete the needed repairs because of someone is handicapped, widowed or has a physically disability.

CHWC does it’s best to make sure – both the structural conditions and environmental conditions are safe for work campers. As a mission/service organization, serving in middle class communities (with lower rates of crime) but not also in low income neighborhoods (which may have a higher rate of crime), raises some interesting question/issues about justice.

  • What kind of message are we communicating if we only serve those in middle class neighborhoods while ignoring those in low income neighborhoods?
  • Would it be better to send campers in more middle class or wealthy area?
  • What about the poor communities?
  • If CHWC only offer services in middle class communities how do the people who really need the help receive it?
  • And what about Jesus’ concern to help the poor, if we focus on only middle class communities?
  • What about the opportunities for teens to be educated and learn more about the meaning of poverty and what poor people have to endure everyday?
  • Would campers miss out on an experience to be jolted out of complacency or motivated to do something about the problems of poverty if they were not in a low income community? When is a neighborhood considered too dangerous for CHWC to send in?

It is not always cut and dry or apparent and clear when it comes to deciphering what is considered a high crime area or low crime area. CHWC partners with local social agencies in locating homes. CHWC depends on them to locate our work projects. Serving people in low income areas is not always easy or comfortable. CHWC does not intentionally send campers into dangerous communities or situations. CHWC depends on a local Manager and social agencies to be aware of keeping campers away from high crime that are dangerous. At the same time sending them to low income communities that need the help is also part of our mission.


As long as young people come with a servant’s attitude, there is no problem involving them in home repair projects. We match skills to projects. There is plenty of work that needs to be done, such as painting, which takes little or no experience. Young people are not asked to participate in projects they are not equipped to handle but will be given opportunities to learn new skills if they so desire.


Yes, this is one of the beautiful aspects of the HEART Workcamp. New relationships and friendships are formed with other people from around the country. Everyone is divided into teams most teams consist of six teens and one adult each team is assigned to work at a site. There is free time each afternoon and evening for the young people to join their own group members. For youth leaders that do not want their teens mixed with campers from other parishes on a work team, the option is available to request a work team consisting only of their youth group members. CHWC will also accommodate groups that request their young people be placed at a work site with two adults. A CHWC work team typically consists of one adult per 6 teens. CHWC does not require 2 adults per work team. Procedures are in place if an adult has to leave a work site. If a youth group leader requests that their young people be placed at a worksite with 2 adults, the process is as follows:

  • Your group must stay together with members of your own youth group.
  • You must provide enough adults for your group to be split into teams with 2 adults.
  • You will create your own teams based on your vehicles. (Form Provided by CHWC)

*Your campers could be split up if a particular camp is able to provide 2 adults for every work team and enough adults are available. This decision will be decided the week before camp by the camp manger. If you would like to be kept together, even if we have enough adults, please make that request known to the camp manager when you mail in your applications.


Our goal is to communicate that “Our Catholic faith is NOT BORING!” A program at Catholic HEART Workcamp can leave you speechless! Why? Soul stirring message to love and serve others, skits that teach (and some just for laughs), live music, inspirational media, professional sound and lighting, youth involvement on stage, outrageous crowd breakers, dancing & serious laughter


CHWC works directly with a nutritionist and the menu is based on a well balanced diet that will provide all the nutritional and calorie needs of approximately 10-20% protein, 20-30% fat and 50-60% carbohydrates. CHWC does realize that there will be campers with food allergies, vegetarians etc. We feel we offer plenty of options for vegetarians but if a camper requires a special diet they are required to bring their own food or supplement what their diet requires.

  • If your diet requires you to bring your own food or to supplement, CHWC will provide a space in the refrigerator for you to store your food.
  • Due to liability and restrictions by the school kitchen facility, CHWC does not permit any campers to cook or have access to the ovens. You are welcome to use a microwave if one is available (only adults are permitted in the kitchen). You must designate an adult (21 or older) from your group to be responsible to coordinate the camper’s needs.
  • Once you arrive at camp please let the kitchen manager know what your special needs will be for the week.

Here is a sample of the menus throughout the week: Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner


Young people and their leaders will be spiritually renewed after participation in the Workcamp, by putting their faith into action. They will be living out Christ’s command to love and serve others. By participating in the HEART Workcamp, the young people and their leaders will be celebrating their Catholic faith. The Workcamp promotes the signs, symbols, stories and rituals affiliated with the Catholic Church. The sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, as well as prayer services, will be offered throughout the week to help young people become more aware of the presence and love of God. Catholic Heart Workcamp is centered on:

  • Faith and works: (James 2:17).
  • Corporal works of mercy (Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned)
  • Sacred Scriptures: Written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and have been handed on by the Catholic Church. We consistently refer to scriptures throughout the week of camp
  • Divinity and saving value of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus: CHWC calls campers to renew their baptismal call on their journey of faith
  • Parish life: Call to active participation in the life of the local parish and youth program. The Church is an assembly of faithful followers of Jesus as Lord.
  • Mary: Call upon Mary for prayer and intercession. Belief in Mary’s Immaculate Conception , as The Mother Of Jesus, her Perpetual Virginity, her intercessory power, and her
  • Assumption into Heaven Prayer: Belief in the power of communion with God
  • Belief in the power of the sacraments.
  • Reconciliation offered
  • Eucharist: The heart of our faith in which Jesus is fully present and alive.
  • Daily Mass offered Saints: Role models of how to live a holy life. Call upon the saints to watch and protect our campers
  • Full conformity with the hierarchy, doctrines, traditions, rituals, practices and beliefs of the Catholic Church


Most groups use vans or small buses to travel to Workcamp. We ask that these same vehicles be used to transport teams to their worksites. In order to abide by state law, vehicles must be equipped with seatbelts for all riders. Participants will not be allowed to ride in open trucks or vehicles without seat belts. If you choose to fly to a Workcamp location, you must arrange to rent vehicles that can be picked up upon arrival at the airport. To keep the cost of registration low, groups are responsible for all vehicle expenses.

12 &15 PASSENGER VANS: Safety and liability issues are forcing churches to abandon 12 &15 passenger vans. In most diocese they are no longer permitted. Therefore, CHWC will no longer permit 12 & 15 passenger vans. Mini-buses offer a viable replacement option for transportation.


Every adult (21 and older) is assigned to a work site. (This does not apply to “Associate Staff Member” volunteers) This adult is part of the overall team. We depend on adults to work side by side with the young people in accomplishing the work projects. For the safety of the teens, each parish must have at least one adult chaperone in each sleeping quarter. The Catholic HEART Work Camp also depends on adults to supervise their own parish young people during the free time and programs. CHWC requires 1 adult (21 or older) for every 5 youth. If you register male and female campers you will need at least 1 male and 1 female adult leader.


Please check off “Associate Staff” on your Application. We no longer offer discounts for Associate Staff position (except for Sisters/Brothers and Priests whose registration fee is $90.00) WORK BEHIND THE SCENES (18 years or older): Help prepare & serve breakfast & dinner as well as clean up after meals. They also do other jobs such as working the snack booth, emptying trash, take pictures at the worksites and run errands. They will have several hours free time each day – usually late morning or early afternoon. These adults do not participate in worksite projects.

TROUBLE SHOOTERS (21 years or older): People with experience in construction willing to work at a variety of job sites assisting groups with question/difficulties which arise related to a work project. They also assist the Workcamp supply manager, deliver/pick up tools/supplies from worksites and pick up supplies from the local hardware store in the evenings. NURSE/PARAMEDICS (21 years or older): Certified medical personnel help at the “home base” whenever a minor medical problem arises (sunburn, twisted ankle, headaches, etc). This person has the option of being on a work team and going to a worksite or staying at the home base and working behind the scenes with the Workcamp set up. PRIEST: Help with Eucharist celebration though out the week and with Reconciliation. Priests are assigned a team and go to worksites, unless they choose to work behind the scenes with the Workcamp set up.


Yes, all registered Priests are required to request proof of faculties from their home diocese, to be sent to the diocese where they will be attending Catholic Heart Workcamp. A letter of suitability must be sent to the diocese where they will be attending camp.


The vehicles your youth group uses to get to the Workcamp will be needed to transport work teams to and from the worksites during the week. Vehicles must conform and abide to their Diocese travel requirements regarding usage. Only adults designated by their Parish will drive to worksites.


Everyone is given a well deserved free day to visit local attractions. Free day activities are listed on the web page under the information for each city. Cost of free day activities is not included in the registration fee. Leaders are responsible for their own groups and transportation needs. There will be morning mass and program on the free day morning starting at 8:00 am, then the rest of the day is yours. Groups will have the option to leave after the morning program or at the end of the free day or return to the school and leave the following morning. However, we do encourage groups to stay for the free day activity and return to the school. Campers use the evening time at the school to say their last goodbyes and exchange addresses.


Yes, each group will receive a digital packet that includes, a pre trip planning information, a medical information/release form, and a “what to bring” list for each camper.


The Catholic HEART Workcamp does not allow any participants without personal health medical insurance to participate in Workcamp. If for some reason a participant does not have health insurance, you may purchase a temporary policy through www.temporaryinsurance.com.

In the unlikely case medical attention is needed, the participants personal health insurance is needed to cover any expenses that occur. The Catholic HEART Workcamp will employ reputable staff members and take reasonable precautions to safeguard the Workcamp participants during the week of Workcamp. However, neither the Catholic HEART Workcamp, social agencies or the school acting as “home base” will be liable for loss or damage to property of participants prior to, during or following the Workcamp due to theft, fire, accident or any other cause beyond its control. It is the sole responsibility of the participants to obtain insurance at their own expense against property loss, damage or injury and against liability for personal injury.

The Catholic HEART Workcamps liability for injury to persons or loss or damage to property shall be limited to such as may be caused by negligence. The Workcamp participants assumes responsibility and agrees to indemnify and defend the Workcamp, employees and agents associated with the Workcamp against any claims and expenses arising from negligence, theft, loss, damage or personal injury. The Catholic HEART Workcamp has limited General Liability coverage.


For More Information Visit our Registration Page


The registration fee covers:

  •  All meals during Workcamp (except on free day)
  •  Rental of facilities in each city
  •  Liability insurance and supplies and materials
  •  Morning and evening program materials
  •  Worksite plans
  •  Summer staff salaries
  •  Summer travel costs (including gas and insurance on staff vehicles)
  •  Advertisement and promotions
  •  T-shirts
  • Marketing
  • Gifts for each participant
  • Contributions to other ministries
  • Dues and resource subscriptions
  • Web page
  • Equipment rental
  • Office supplies
  • Postage
  • Printing and brochure cost
  • Computer and copy machine maintenance
  • Musicians
  • Expenses for developing future

Workcamps Registration fee does not cover free day expenses or transportation costs.

Catholic HEART Workcamp takes seriously the authority, responsibility and call from God to develop and maintain an organization that is ethical, honest and fair. We are knowledgeable of the responsibility to be good stewards of the talents and finances God sends our way.

Catholic HEART Workcamp is both a ministry and business. As a ministry it’s amazing to witness all that God is doing through young people and the movement of His Spirit. As a business, we have grown in the areas of professionalism and organization. The focus of CHWC has always been on sharing the Good News of Jesus with participants and serving others. Our goal has never been on financial profits, though we cannot exist as an organization without meeting our financial obligations. We know greed only leads to destruction and the seriousness of Christians who compromise their souls for money.

Jesus warned, “No person can serve two Masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24). The registration fees are needed to carry out the ministry of HEART Workcamp. These fees pay for the operational cost of maintaining the business side of CHWC. We are totally dependent on registration fees to meet our financial obligations. We do not receive grants or any other outside financial assistance.

We believe HEART Workcamp offers an exceptional “ministry product” for teenagers. Time and time again we have heard teens and adults say, “this is the best week of my life.”  Check out our bulletin board if you want to see the impact CHWC has on the lives of Catholic young people. CHWC works hard at developing a quality stage environment, props and production. This includes professional lighting, sound and media equipment. Young people respond favorably and are more open to HEART Workcamp because we go the extra mile in making our camps youth friendly. Catholic HEART Workcamp is conscious of spending its money wisely and is always open to suggestions on how to better serve the Workcamp participants, and residents we serve.

CHWC partners with local agencies in identifying work projects. The purchasing of materials is a joint effort between CHWC, local social agencies and residents. This activates agencies and residents to have more ownership and pride in the work projects and helps us keep our registration fee as one of the lowest priced service camps in the country.

With the ongoing demands to plan, create, administer, develop, and respond to the needs of the HEART Workcamp, our staff has grown over the years. The registration fee covers financial compensation for an eight-person “home base” administration team. This consists of the President (Steve Walker), an Office Manager (Charlotte), Media Specialist (Nick), Registrar (Kim), two Office Support personnel ( Kelly & Wayne), and Accountant/bookkeeper (Isabelle). With employees come taxes: federal, state, local, self-employment, and social security. CHWC also hires 80-85 summer staff members between June and August, which are all paid positions.


Adoration is offered at all of the ‘Next Level Workcamps’ The “Next Level” camps are open to those entering 9th grade in the fall.  (Some are open to 8th graders.  See our dates page for these locations)  Participants have wondered why CHWC does not offer Eucharistic Adoration at every Workcamp.  As much as HEART believes in the real presence of Jesus through Adoration, the following are the reasons why it is only offered at “Next Level” and “Elevate” camps.

1. In order to offer Adoration some type of teaching or catechesis is needed to help the campers understand what Eucharistic Adoration is about. Unfortunately with the tight schedule at camp there is not the needed time to properly explain Adoration.

2. The teachings of the Church state Eucharistic Adoration is best offered in a holy place such as a church or chapel verses a Workcamp gymnasium or auditorium. Unfortunately not all of our camp locations have a church or chapel for us to utilize.

3. There are almost always some non-catholic campers at Workcamp and Eucharistic Adoration may be difficult for them to experience, appreciate or understand.

4. The central focus of Adoration is on Jesus. The Eucharist is displayed in a special vessel called a monstrance, in which people come to pray and worship. The most logical time to offer Eucharistic Adoration would be during the “Four Corners” prayer experience. The primary focus of “Four Corners” is on teens praying for healing, forgiveness (confession), peace and others, with adults and their youth group in four different corners of a room. It would be inappropriate for campers to be praying and talking with one another and spread throughout out a room, while at the same time that the Blessed Sacrament is being exposed.

5. Eucharistic Adoration has a unique impact on individuals. There are many different age groups and levels of spirituality within a camp atmosphere. Without proper understanding and preparation, some campers may become confused and unsettled observing other teens express themselves in the presence of Jesus.

6. In order to offer Adoration, approval is needed from each Diocesan Liturgy office. Time is required to obtain the proper permission, proposals, explanations and logistics. The HEART Workcamp home office does not have the needed time to properly obtain permission with all its other administration and organizational responsibilities. In some cases, the Dioceses may not grant permission and it would be unfair to offer Adoration at some camps and not others. With all of this being said, we now have the ‘Next Level’ and ‘Elevate’ camps which do offer Adoration. We feel that Youth groups that attend this camp will bring youth that we be more prepared to handle this sacred event.


Be creative, persistent and prayerful. Finding finances is not as hard as you think. Set up a budget for registration and travel costs, then brainstorm with your group and Parish staff for ideas such as pancake breakfasts, car washes, letter writing campaigns and other activities to raise money. Fund-raisers are a great way to build community. Ask each participant, the Parish, local businesses and private individuals to help you cover the cost for Workcamp. Click here for a list of fundraising ideas.


Catholic HEART Workcamp is diligent in providing a safe environment for every camper. Teenagers, young adults, adult leaders and their families can be assured that CHWC is concerned with every campers well-being and protection.

Catholic HEART Workcamp requires all camp summer staff members to provide personal information, references and a recommendation from their Parish Priest/Youth Minister prior to employment. We also require all summer staff to conform to a FBI National background check. All CHWC Staff will also be trained in the Virtus program “Protecting God’s Children” in order to be in compliance with the U.S. Catholic Bishop’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

CHWC requires anyone eighteen and older, either as a chaperone or camp participant (belonging to your Parish or not), has successfully completed the requirements of the Parish and be in compliance with their Diocesan policy for interacting with children and teenagers, in accordance with the U.S. Catholic Bishops Charter for the protection of children and young people. CHWC mandates a signed and notarized Verification Agreement Form from the Parish Youth Minister and the Pastor stating that each person 18 years or older has completed the requirement of its Diocese as it relates to their sexual abuse risk prevention policies, training and background checks. If there are no such requirements all adults must complete the requirements of Catholic HEART Workcamp, by conducting a sexual abuse risk prevention background check. These documents are stored in our home office, in Orlando, Florida and copies are at each of our camps throughout the week they are operating as well.

Anyone 18 and older MUST complete a training course on Protecting God’s Children for Adults or similar program that is offered in their Diocese and be familiar with resources regarding safe environment, abuse of minors, sexual misconduct and sexual harassment. In addition any young adult between the ages of 18-20 are placed on their own work team, with an adult (21 and over) as their group leader and are not mixed with any teens under the age of 18 at the worksites.


The document, 2015 Charter for the protection of God’s Children and Young People, developed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, outlines the goals, duties, and responsibilities of dioceses. CHWC follows the same guidelines in response to any form of child abuse.

Catholic HEART Workcamp believes every person has the right to be respected and treated with dignity as a child of God. Every person has boundaries and the right to expect respect of those boundaries. Every person has the right to challenge any behavior or comment that is offensive and inappropriate.

Catholic HEART Workcamp takes responsibility to safeguard and protect all participants, especially minors. A minor being a person under 18 years of age or a vulnerable adult (having a physical or mental handicap) who is under 21 years of age.

In any case if CHWC (Directors, Managers and/or Staff) have reason to believe that a minor is a victim of sexual abuse the following protocol is in place and will be followed as such:

  • Reach out to the youth minister who brought the student to camp
  • Parents will be notified with the youth minister present
  • By law CHWC will immediately call the local authorities and the Department of Child Protective Services, then respond accordingly


No, we are not officially overseen by a Diocese. In our experience, a Diocese does not want the liability or legal responsibility involved in a Workcamp but is willing to support CHWC’s effort to offer a quality service event for teenagers. We do however have local youth ministers, local parishes, and local priests involved in most, if not all our Workcamps. In addition we partner with various priests across the country to act as a Camp Chaplin at some of our camps. We also bring in local priests to aid us in the saying of daily mass and for a Reconciliation service during the week. Catholic HEART Workcamp continues to faithfully and enthusiastically serve the Roman Catholic Church in obedience to the Magisterium and strict faithfulness to the Church teachings.

Steve has his Masters degree in Religious Education, from Duquesne University and were youth ministers in the Catholic Church for over 15 years before starting Catholic HEART Workcamp. The original idea developed after t youth group participated in a Protestant service camp while they were serving as youth ministers. Since the camp was missing a Catholic social justice piece, we began developing a camp to meet the needs of our Catholic young people. Little did we know, the camps would grow to include an office staff of nine and involve over 13,000 campers.

The HEART of CHWC is to gather and celebrate our Catholic faith. Workcamp participants are inspired to grow deeper in their walk with Christ. Through service, prayer, and the sacraments, camper participants are renewed in their love for our Catholic faith and are motivated to return to their home communities to serve on a local level. CHWC…..

Inspires participants to live out and answer their baptismal call to serve
Respects the dignity of the human person
Cares for the poor and elderly
Loves one’s neighbor
Responds to the Gospel

Catholic HEART Workcamp is diligent in providing a safe environment for every camper. Teenagers, young adults, adult leaders and their families can be assured that CHWC is concerned with every camper’s well-being and protection.

Catholic HEART Workcamp requires all camp summer staff members to provide personal information, references and a recommendation from their Parish Priest/Youth Minister prior to employment. We also require all summer staff and adults participating as campers, in accordance with the U.S. Catholic Bishops Charter for the protection of children and young people, to conform to a national background check. In addition, we mandate a signed and notarized Verification Agreement Form from the Parish Youth Minister/contact person stating that a background check has been completed. CHWC requires anyone 18 and older to be in compliance with their Diocesan policy for interacting with children and teenagers. We strongly encourage adults complete a training course on Protecting God’s Children for Adults if it is offered in their Diocese and be familiar with resources regarding safe environment, abuse of minors, sexual misconduct and sexual harassment. In addition any young adult between the ages of 18-20 are placed on their own work team, with an adult (21 and over) as their group leader and are not mixed with any teens under the age of 18 at the worksites.

Sexual misconduct has been a problem that has gained increased attention in the church and society. As an organization, CHWC has developed procedures and polices to deal with sexual misconduct. Harassment of any type is not tolerated. Any offenses by camper toward another camper (whether adult or teen) is taken seriously. All complaints of harassment, harm or law breaking are investigated. Anyone involved with incidents of abuse or harassment will be handled with due regard for confidentiality and privacy, especially with regard to the victim. When a complaint or allegation is brought to the attention of the camp director/manager/staff member, a process to deal with the situation immediately goes into place.

In order to prepare the teen and adult campers for a Catholic HEART Workcamp week, we provide a “pre-trip booklet” to be reviewed by each adult leader, teen camper and their parents. This booklet covers our safety requirements, dress code, medical/hospital procedures, worksite requirements, issues related to meals, worksite/facility behavior and expectations, tool/personal supply list, code of conduct, disciplinary action, policy on sexual harassment, nurse and trouble shooter guidelines and overall Workcamp expectations. We also communicate in our information packet that work teams consist of campers from other youth groups. This is one of the beautiful aspects of the HEART Workcamp experience. New relationships and friendships are formed with other people throughout the country. The option is available to request a work team consisting only of a specific youth group by parish youth ministers. To ensure the safety of all campers, designated separate shower times are assigned for youth and adult (18 and older).


Humor, fun and laughter helps Catholic HEART Workcamp create a relaxed atmosphere. Being silly gives campers permission to be themselves and breaks down barriers. Laughing out loud releases stress and feels good. Camper resistance decreases, walls come down and respect is given when campers are laughing and having a good time. It speaks volumes to kids who seldom laugh at a “church” event or say “church is boring”. Humor is a vital part of the Catholic HEART Workcamp experience because it helps achieve our ultimate goal, which is to motivate teens to serve Jesus. Part of the success of CHWC comes from creating humor that is relevant to the youth culture. It is difficult to find or create icebreakers and activities that create laughs, is not R-rated or childish and speaks the language of teens without being offensive.

When campers switch from singing and having fun during the first part of the program they are much more open to the serious part of the evening. Humor is the doorway for CHWC to gain the “right to be heard”. The spiritual message and motivational talks on servanthood are better received after campers get crazy during the first part of the program.

Some icebreakers CHWC use is similar to the TV show “candid camera”…a surprise gag on someone. We believe teens that volunteer know something’s going to happen to him/her. Most go along with the gag for the good of the group and enjoy the attention. CHWC is sensitive to volunteers that are on the receiving end of a gag. Our intention is to create an atmosphere in which campers are laughing “with” and not “at” volunteers. Carpenter Commandos (crowdbreaker leaders) are told to make every effort to affirm campers that participate in an icebreaker. We give out a t-shirt at the end of gag and affirm them with a “lets give them a big round of applause for coming up here”.

Campers that come back year after year expect to have fun, laugh and have a good time. Some games, activities and skits are repeated every other year. But even then, campers who have experienced a specific gag or icebreaker still enjoy it because he/she knows what’s coming and is “in” on the gag, so to speak. When someone has previously seen a game or icebreaker, it’s still funny because of the dynamics and reactions of the participants. One never knows how a contestant is going to respond.

CHWC is serious about humor, but we are not a perfect organization. From time to time a game is boring or bombs. But all in all it is an important element of the CHWC experience. We do our best to have fun to enhance the camper experience. CHWC is always looking to hear about games and skits that have worked in youth groups. So if you have any ideas, please forward them to our office. We love new ideas!


1. As stated in “THE CHALLENGE OF CATHOLIC YOUTH EVANGELIZATION” (Justice and Service section), the HEART Workcamp is a lived out experience which provides young people an opportunity for making the Gospel real. “The ministry of justice and service is an opportunity for evangelization when our approaches are infused with Scripture and Jesus’ teachings. Immersion experiences, service projects (work camps) and justice education programs present opportunities for youth to see the face of Jesus in the marginalized, oppressed and poor. The challenge for those in youth ministry is to enable young people to bring the Gospel into a transforming dialogue with society and culture”.

2. Our Catholic identity as Roman Catholic Christians is unique. Young people are able to celebrate their Catholic identity at the HEART Workcamp. It promotes the signs, symbols, images, stories and rituals that express the Catholic faith.

3. The HEART Workcamp gives young people a sense of the larger Catholic Church in our country by giving them opportunities to meet, interact and serve with other Catholic young people.

4. The HEART Workcamp celebrates the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Eucharist throughout the week. These sacraments help young people experience grace and become more aware of God’s gift of love and presence. This communal and sacramental dimension of Catholicism makes it easier to understand why we as a “universal” Catholic Church believe that following Jesus and participating in service is an integral part of our Catholic faith.

5. The HEART Workcamp offers prayer services using Catholic symbols such as holy water, oil, crucifixes and candles. These experiences encourage young people to value these symbols when they return to their own Parish and use them as a tool to enhance their prayer life.

6. The HEART Workcamp is not limited to general evangelization or foundational Christian principles (as are the non-denominational workcamps). The HEART Workcamp is able to further develop “Catholic Spirituality” by interpreting scriptures and communicating teachings in line with the Roman Catholic Church.

7. The HEART Workcamp exposes young people to other Catholic leaders in the Church such as Priests, Lay Ministers, Youth Ministers, Religious Ed Coordinators and adult volunteers, thus planting the seeds for Catholic vocations.

8. The HEART Workcamp offers young people and leaders pride in the fact our Catholic denomination sponsors a Workcamp. (As one youth leader stated, “I am tired of all the other denominations having workcamps and am glad to see our Church has something for us to offer our young people”).

9. The HEART Workcamp “stirs” up kids in a positive way. They leave excited about service and the Church. In many ways the HEART Workcamp is a tool for pre-evangelization and evangelization. Youth leaders are able to use these experiences as a way to excite young people about service and their Catholic faith. Hopefully the young person will bring this excitement for service and the Church back to their own youth program. Youth leaders have the opportunity to follow up with them back home by nourishing this passion and helping the young person formalize it in a deeper manner. All of this happens within the context of the Catholic Church, thus helping to guarantee the next generation for Christ in the Church.

10. A Workcamp that is based on “Catholic spirituality” increases the chances of consent for participation, support and funding from Pastors, Parish Councils and Parents. The knowledge that a workcamp has a Catholic focus eases the minds of many people who have the authority to approve or disapprove young people attending in a week long work camp. (Many people are fearful of non-denominational youth gatherings).

11. The HEART Workcamp gives young people an opportunity to live out some of the aspects listed in Scriptures on service as well as the corporal works of mercy. It also gives young people a better understanding and lived out “taste” of what the Catholic Church teaches about social action, social work and peace and justice issues.

12. There are many non-denominational workcamps offered across the nation. Most of these workcamps are positive experiences for young people. One of the beautiful features of a non-denominational workcamp is it gives young people an opportunity to experience and interact with other youth who have different Christian faith traditions. The exposure to ecumenism is important for young people to experience. But as relationships grow between a Catholic young person and a Protestant young person or leader there will inevitably be questions which arise as they explore their faith with each other. Questions about the Bible, Salvation, Mary, the Pope, Sacraments or other “Catholic” issues. Catholic young people are then put in a position to defend their Catholic faith. This could be a positive or negative experience. It becomes negative when a Catholic young person is put on the defense because they are being challenged about what the Church believes. They also could become confused or upset because they are not equipped to provide answers. A Catholic Workcamp, on the other hand, offers young people within an environment of support and encouragement when it comes to questions and matters of faith. The HEART Workcamp offers youth leaders opportunities and “teachable moments” to discuss the Catholic faith in a non-denominational atmosphere. Instead of having to defend the Church, young people are put in an environment in which they can ask questions and receive answers as well as support in their Catholic faith.


CHWC uses Christian music during mass and during praise and worship. This kind of music is intended to bring campers closer to Christ. Balanced with this, we like to use secular songs representing the youth culture of today.

People may wonder “How can you use secular songs at your camps?” What, precisely, makes a song secular or Christian? Is it the lyrics? The person singing it? The style of music? Madeleine L’Engle had an interesting statement in her book, Walking on Water: “To look at a work of art and then to make a judgment as to whether or not it is Christian is presumptuous. It is something we cannot know in any conclusive way. We can know only if it speaks within our own hearts and leads us to living more deeply with Christ in God.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s say secular music refers to popular songs written by a mainstream artist without any specific Christ- honoring intent. The songs aren’t about Jesus. The singer isn’t a Christian artist. And yet … sometimes, when I’m in my car with music blaring, God uses the lyrics of a song to speak deeply to my heart.

Here is what CHWC believes: It is permissible to use music in the service that doesn’t have an obvious Christian message. Why? To craft for our campers a seamless experience that builds toward a goal, the goal of reaching them with the news that they matter to God, right here, right now, whatever their circumstances.

Our programs are a seamless message comprising different elements, all of which are focused on helping people take their next steps toward Christ. Paul did this when he quoted from a famous poet of his day (Acts 17:28). He wasn’t saying, “I agree with everything this poet wrote.” He wasn’t saying, “Read all of his poems.” He was just using a well-known secular poem to connect with his listeners in order to help make a change in their lives. CHWC speaks the “foreign language” of our culture in order to reach the people in it.

CHWC learns the language, signs, symbols, and customs of the culture and then uses it to build a bridge to God. When people ask how we can use secular music in our services, we say, “How can we not?”


Each CHWC Mission participant has the opportunity to fund raise the entire cost of their trip. In a youth groups effort to raise the necessary funds, keep in mind that fundraising allows people who may not have the opportunity to travel on a mission trip to participate in this essential work through youth group members. “Some people give by going while others go by giving.” Allowing others to support your efforts through their financial commitments and prayers.

We are constantly asked if we have any fundraising ideas, so we asked a bunch of youth ministers what they did to raise money for CHWC this list is a compilation of some of the best ones. If you have any fundraising ideas email us at info@heartworkcamp.com .

Flamingo Sale…Your youth can sell pink flamingo yard ornaments. People in the parish pay for a flamingo (or 100) to be put in someone’s yard. The group would then one night drive to the homes and “deliver” the flamingos. The group can also sell “flamingo insurance” for the homeowners that don’t want any in their yard. Joe Welch, Oklahoma City, OK

Make a map that shows the distance from our church to Workcamp. Parishioners can buy a mile to help you get closer to your goal of getting there. Make a cross or a hammer cutout and put their family name on it. Could say something like: The ________family supports St. Joseph Youth. Rene Platten, Memphis, TN

At CHWC we have Taco Tuesdays…TACO TUESDAYS NIGHT…Invite the parish for a free taco dinner (have someone sponsor the food). Have the teens give witness talks and show pictures and videos of their work at CHWC. You can then ask the people to write checks and leave them in the paint cans on the tables. The pictures and stories will touch people’s hearts! Maggie McGowan, Lakeland, FL

“Change for Change” Have your teens talk at mass about what they will do at CHWC. Ask the parishioners to donate their spare “change” (bills and checks) to help us make a change in the world. Have your teens stand outside of mass with paint buckets for the people to put their money in. Michelle Murphy, Sanford, FL

Pancake Sausage Breakfast…Ask all the teens going to camp to donate a specific food item for the breakfast, that way you will have no cost and everything you make is pure profit. They are “All You Can Eat” breakfasts and all you ask is a free will donation. Mickey Nickrent, Mahomet, IL

Sell wreaths, garland, etc. for Christmas. Get merchandise from www.sherwoodforestfarms.com. There is no money due until a couple of weeks after after delivery of merchandise, which is nice. Mickey Nickrent, Mahomet, IL

Homemade Pizzas…order all supplies from Sam’s. Make them available for pick-up Superbowl weekend. This makes very good money. Mickey Nickrent, Mahomet, IL

Take Stock in our Youth…Make a flyer that will say…Our youth will be participating in Catholic HEART Workcamp (explain what CHWC is). Add what the total cost of the trip will be. Our Teens are selling “STOCK” in themselves to raise money for this service trip. A donation of $10.00 or more entitles the donor to a piece of this experience. The donor will be invited to attend the Saturday evening mass before the trip, with a cookie and punch reception following to meet the people they have invested their money in. They will be sent a “dividend statement” from the camp updating them on the work being completed. And finally, invite them to another cookie and punch event to view pictures of the week and hear stories of the participant’s adventures and how their experiences enhanced their faith. To purchase stock ask them to mail their contribution to (put name of contact and address where to send.) Maureen Ragsdale, St. Louis, MO

Super Bingo…We pre-sell tickets…$25 per person…$1,000 jackpot…20 regular games with specials and other “rip-off” games of chance. We start with a plate lunch that the kids serve and we really make money when people buy extra cards and specials. The last few years we have averaged $4,500-$5,000 for one afternoon of work. We have found that the Saturday between the last NFL playoff game and before the Super Bowl weekend is ideal to catch all of the Bingo Aficionados…male and female…also we advertise the Bingo at the local area bingos several weeks before the event…the diehard bingo players…not necessarily our parishioners are the ones who support these Bingos. They like the lunch and helping the kids too! Mary Blythe, North Huntingdon, PA

Murder Mystery Dinner Theater…The kids in the youth group do a dinner theater play…we serve a dinner and give away a few door prizes. We love it because the kids have a ball putting the play together…it doesn’t require a lot of extra practices or scenery etc. The audience likes getting dinner and guessing “who dun it”. Mary Blythe, North Huntingdon, PA

We sell Advent Supplies (Calendars, Candle sets, Wreaths, Religious Cards etc.) after Masses for two weekends before Advent begins…the Parishioners are grateful to get their Advent sacramentals and we make about $1,500 for very little work. Mary Blythe, North Huntingdon, PA

“Cross Ornaments”…We make crosses out of construction paper…attach a small envelope (coin size) to the envelope and on it write…”You’re invited to…” then inside the envelope we ask the people to pray for our youth who are going to NCYC OR CHWC etc. so that they will grow spiritually…then we also invite them to share the monetary burden if they choose by returning the envelope through the collection basket with any donation they care to make. People put in $5 – $500. We hang the cross ornaments on a Christmas tree in the back of church for a couple of weeks about 2 months before the designated event. Mary Blythe, North Huntingdon, PA

We do Hoagie sales after all Masses one weekend every 3 months. Mary Blythe, North Huntingdon, PA

We host a 32 team 5th and 6th grade girls and boys basketball tournament. We have $4,000 in the bank from entry fees before the tournament even starts. With admission fees and concessions, we will make around $8,000! A lot of work over two weekends (we only play Friday night and Saturday) but great rewards…AND we use it as an opportunity to show everyone what we are doing at CHWC with a video playing the entire time. Randy Alderman, Greenville, IL

Websites for additional ideas:


Yes we will work with you in making sure that you are following your diocesan policies even if it is not the policy of Catholic HEART Workcamp.

EXAMPLE #1: A CHWC work team typically consists of one adult per 6 teens. CHWC does not require 2 adults per work team. Procedures are in place if an adult has to leave a work site. If a youth group leader requests that their young people be placed at a worksite with 2 adults, the process is as follows: Your group must stay together with members of your own youth group. You must provide enough adults for your group to be split into teams with 2 adults. You will create your own teams based on your vehicles. (Form Provided by CHWC)

*Your campers could be split up if a particular camp is able to provide 2 adults for every work team, but if you would like to be kept together that request will be honored.

EXAMPLE #2: CHWC requires adults to sleep in the classrooms with their youth. We feel this will prevent any inappropriate behavior that could become harmful to oneself, or cause damage to the school facility. If your diocese does not permit adults to sleep in the same rooms with teens, CHWC will honor your request. The youth group will in turn have to abide by the adjustments CHWC will make to accommodate your group such as: At least 2 adults must sleep in the hallway outside the classroom of their group. Some schools have security lights in the hallways that cannot be turned off. (You may want to bring a sleep mask) Some hallways are not air-conditioned. (You may want to bring a fan)