Retreat facility focuses on renewing, strengthening the faith of the young Church

April 25, 2023

Founded in 1981, Camp Kappe is situated on 130 acres of heavily wooded rolling land in Plantersville, and features canoeing. (Photo courtesy of The Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization)

PLANTERSVILLE — The Church continues to recognize challenges associated with the rising number of youth, ages 13 through young adulthood, who either stop going to Mass or choose to leave their faith behind. Finding ways for them to strengthen and renew their relationship with God and in community with one another through life-changing personal encounters is key.

Since 1981, Catholic schools and parish ministries in the Archdiocese and surrounding dioceses have turned to spiritual and educational programs and retreats offered at Camp Kappe Youth Retreat Facility. Operated as a part of the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization (OACE), Camp Kappe is situated on 130 acres of heavily wooded rolling land in Plantersville, about an hour north of Houston. Last year, Camp Kappe hosted over 1,320 retreat participants and 1,444 fifth-grade students from Catholic schools and chaperones attending its School of Environmental Education (SEE).

“Our retreat facility helps young people grow both in their formational knowledge of the faith and their personal spirituality,” said Randy Adams, executive director of Camp Kappe. “They become refreshed and renewed in their call to discipleship and are excited to continue the mission of the Church in their home parishes.”

Adams said attendance numbers for parish retreats and SEE have steadily increased over the years, which now includes more young adult ministry groups, movements and organizations using the facilities and programs. To support this growth, major renovations and expansions have taken place since OACE assumed responsibility for the facility in 2013. This includes major reconstruction of the Dennis Patrick Duffy Hall and the building of the new St. Pedro Calungsod ADA cabin, sports pavilion, Frassati Recreation Hall, Bakhita Hall and St. Jose Sanchez del Rio Chapel.

“Some of the youth whose parents attended both SEE and/or Camp Kappe retreats now attend themselves,” said Adams.

Adams said he believes Camp Kappe is a testament to the dedication and commitment of Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro, CRS, former OACE director, Brian Johnson, who died in 2017, and all involved in the growth of the retreat center.

“They understand the important role this facility has played and continues to play in the spiritual and educational growth in parish and Catholic School life,” he said.

Adams said much gratitude also is owed to the families of St. Mary Church in Plantersville that began this journey over 40 years ago by purchasing the land and encouraging Bishop John Ludvik Morkovsky to build and dedicate a retreat facility for youth in the Archdiocese. He said he was also grateful to the first director of the camp, Father Ben Smaistrla, Sister Thomas Ann LeCour, OP, founding director of SEE, and “Monsignor Adam McClosky, the early leader who continues to journey with his commitment to the camp today.”

Over the next year, plans are being made to expand the SEE sessions to include home-school students and parish religious education programs.

“This is a commitment that both myself and SEE director, Nathaniel Wooten, along with SEE staff, have made a priority,” said Adams. “This will allow more students to receive a hands-on experience of the importance of being good stewards of God’s creation as specified in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’.”

As one of 64 ministries supported by the annual DSF appeal, if more funding was available, Adams would like to expand Camp Kappe programs to assist more youth and young adults in the Archdiocese. He said additional DSF funds could help make this goal achievable by providing new summer activity equipment, supplies, staff development opportunities and facility improvements.

Adams said another goal is to create a summer camp experience for junior-high ministry, as well as a retreat summer program for students with disabilities and their families. He also would like to expand and enhance the community building and leadership activities by adding low rope facilities, as well as expanding the farm and garden experience for SEE students.

“DSF provides the funding we need to make these programs possible and affordable for the participants, no matter what their economic situation may be,” said Adams. “It is one of the most affordable centers in the state, helping to enrich the lives of its students in their journey to be good disciples in their faith. It also provides a great facility for our young adult programs to be able to gather on retreat and continue to discern, explore and strengthen the faith of these young people.”

To learn more about Camp Kappe, go to To donate to the DSF that supports the retreat facility and 64 ministries, go to The DSF supports each of these ministries, whether direct service or education, which require this critical funding to remain in operation. Out of each gift given to DSF, 100% of every dollar goes directly to supporting these ministries.