Wilderness 2004 stresses faith, friends

Teenagers from the Peoria, Ill.-based youth group are joined by friends from the Burns area for a group photo on their final day at the Lake Creek Camp in Logan Valley.

LOGAN VALLEY - A lengthy bus trip with a group of teenagers is, by itself, an act of faith, but that's exactly the task Rev. Bailey Clemens and several other priests and nuns undertook in bringing Wilderness 2004 to the Lake Creek Camp in Logan Valley.

"We are a Catholic youth group from Peoria, Ill., and this is a 12-day trip designed to build faith and friendship," Clemens said.

The group is comprised of 45 teenagers from Illinois, South Carolina, Iowa, Colorado and Indiana who have spent the past several days touring the western United States.

Clemens is very familiar with eastern Oregon having been born and raised in Burns and is the uncle of Kellen Clemens, the starting quarterback on the University of Oregon's football team.

"We take a trip every year which allows the kids to get some time away from their regular routines," Fr. Clemens said. "This is the fourth year we have been here at the Lake Creek Camp."

The group stopped in Burns on Friday, June 11, staying at the Catholic parish house, and enjoyed a barbecue at the Clemens Ranch before coming to the Lake Creek facility on Sunday, June 13.

Prior to arriving in eastern Oregon, Clemens said the 45-member group visited the Bad Lands, Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons.

"We have some kids from the Burns area who joined us, and we have a total of 65 young people here at the Lake Creek Camp," he said.

The trip was not strictly confined to sight-seeing.

"We have held discussions on building friendships and working toward the common good in the community, as well as discussions on understanding nature and the ethics of work," Clemens said. "This trip is also an intense retreat on faith and prayer."

When asked whether the group would be visiting the Oregon coast before heading back, Clemens said it would be just too long.

"Twelve days on a bus with a group of teenagers is an act of God in itself," he commented.

The group left the camp Wednesday morning, June 16, headed for Salt Lake City and then home.

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