Camp Villa Marie

Camp Villa Marie provides children ages 6-12 with an exciting, fun-filled camp experience. The purpose of the summer camp is to provide our children with a holistic environment that nurtures their spiritual, physical, intellectual and social needs. Campers enjoy activities such as arts and crafts, bible lessons, swimming, outdoor and indoor games, along with a special activities based on the theme of the week. The camp is located on 29 acres of pristine deep water acreage on the Isle of Hope. Camp Villa Marie is building on a wonderful past to create a strong and vibrant future.

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Then and Now…

Villa Marie Center, several acres of tree-shaded, waterfront property overlooking tidal Grimball Creek, became the summer home of hundreds of children each year. For some, in the early days, it was the only contact with other Catholic families, and the only opportunity for Catholic instruction.

Classes in Christian doctrine were an important part of the schedule. But the long summer days also allowed for recreation sessions. Swimming and fishing, basketball and softball and volleyball, archery and air riflery, arts and crafts were all part of the schedule, as well as the evening’s entertainment of movies, plays and skits. There were trips to the beach and to historic Fort Pulaski. The earliest camp began with only four buildings: a chapel, two dormitories and a kitchen/dining room. As the years went by, camp cottages were added, and –in the 1950s-the sprawling, single-story complex which became Saint John Vianney Minor Seminary in 1969. With the closure of the Seminary in 1969, this main building, renamed Saint Johns Center, became the year round home of some of the diocesan offices. Young people and adults from schools and churches throughout the state headed to Saint John’s for seminars and retreats, picnics and family gatherings of all kinds. Photos preserved at the diocesan Archives show the Sisters of Mercy in the old days, clad in their traditional garb, accompanying the children to the chapel for confirmation, or posing with them during their religion classes. They are also seen (still in the all-encompassing habits) fishing at the dock, taking part in field games, or sitting cross–legged amid the pine trees.

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