Order of Malta


Malta Camp USA Daily Updates


Click here to view the photo gallery for this year’s Malta Camp. 


Day 6

Our final day at camp was full of emotion. After breakfast, everyone packed up to be ready to go in the afternoon. With bags packed, we transitioned to our final activities — signing the pillow cases we’d tie-dyed on Sunday. Everyone used the time to continue adding to the Wonderfully Made posters we began yesterday.

Even at breakfast the tears began to flow. The reality was setting in that camp was nearing its end, and that we wouldn’t wake up to a group of friends and a day jam-packed with activities tomorrow. The good-bye hugs started early, recognizing that there would be dozens more for each person before we had to depart. Many joked that they got more hugs today than they get the other 364 days of the year.

After lunch, as parents began to arrive to pick up our Guests, there were many promises to return to camp next year — plans for new talent show acts, ideas for fun costumes to bring, and requests for roommate pairings. One Guest asked if he could keep coming to camp until he was 105 years old. Guests and volunteers alike said this was sure to be a highlight of their year.

Many exchanged phone numbers in the hopes to keep in touch throughout the year. One of our Guests said it best — “I came here only knowing one friend, and I feel like I am leaving as part of a family”.

Personally, I find myself filled with both pride and gratitude. I am proud of the Malta Camp family we have built; proud that every single Guest from 2023 returned to join us this summer. I am hopeful that this family will continue to grow and thrive, both at camp and beyond, as it has over the past year. And I am grateful: to the parents who entrust their young adults to our care; to the volunteers who give up a week of their summer to spend at camp; to the donors who allow us to fund our program; to the 30+ people who have spent months planning for this week; to those who have loaned us Christmas decorations, received hundreds of Amazon shipments, and opened up their homes to volunteers while setting up; and most importantly, to our Guests who bring an infectious joy to everything we do at Malta Camp — I thank you from the bottom of my heart!


Day 5

Today was a whirlwind! Our morning started at Apex Entertainment, where our group got an opportunity to bowl, play laser tag, ride bumper cars, and compete in arcade games. Lots of Guests had an opportunity to show off their bowling skills — with a number of Special Olympics medalists in our presence, there were lots of strikes thrown, pins hit, and a few volunteers who were very grateful for gutters. In the laser tag room, it was Team Fire vs. Team Ice in a series of showdowns that had us running, ducking, and shooting for points. With lots of activities to join, there was something for everyone.

After lunch, our group split up for the first time in the week, going to June Farms, a nature walk, and helicopter flights. At June Farms, we fed horses, pet goats, and saw some giant pigs. On our nature walk, campers hiked through the woods, spotting butterflies and different types of trees on their adventure. On our helicopter rides, we flew up to Saratoga Springs, overlooking the race tracks, and seeing as far as mountains in Vermont and the edge of Massachusetts. It was a fun afternoon for all!

When we returned to Siena, we did a reflection activity on our theme, “Wonderfully Made”, taking time to think about how each of our campers is wonderfully made – expressed through words, stickers, photos from the week, and more. We created posters that showcase all of the strengths within each member of our community. After dinner, we had our annual dance party – marked by crazy costumes, a photo booth, and a DJ. Everyone danced the night away! After our party ended, we shared lots of final good night hugs, realizing that tomorrow is our last day together.

We are grateful to all of your for following along on our journey this week and look forward to sharing our final adventures with you tomorrow. 


Day 4

As today wrapped up, one of our campers asked “why is this just a week and not the whole summer?” — that seems to be a sentiment shared by many today at camp. We have hit a stride that makes our community feel effortless, having built a collective understanding of what each person needs to be successful. Far enough into the week that we recognize that the end of the week is in sight, but not so far that people are sad about it.

Our morning started with one of the most anticipated activities of the week, a trip to the Zoom Flume water park! Our group quickly spread out across the splash pad, lazy river, water slides, and wave pool, with everyone finding a few activities that fit their interests. We had lots of brave campers taking on some of the largest and fastest water slides, and others who preferred to keep things on the calmer side. Reflecting on her morning, one Guest shared, “even if I can’t do everything the same way as everyone else, I can still do as much as I am able and be part of the group. I feel so included in everything that we do, and that’s not something I get anywhere else”.

Our afternoon at Siena College started with Field Day. After a costume filled relay race, we divided into the color teams that we have used to organize camp throughout the week. Each team drafted people to participate in 15+ events, ranging from a 100 meter dash, to charades, to a wheelbarrow race featuring blow up costumes. However, the highlight of all of field day had to be our plank-off, which had everyone cheering on their teammates, until the event ended in a tie after 7 minutes(!!) of planking by 2 competitors. During our afternoon, everyone had a moment to shine as the representative of their team, and cheerleading became as important a role as competing. After returning to our dorm for dinner, one Guest remarked “this was the funnest afternoon of my whole life!”

Our evening concluded with a 35 act(!) talent show, with performances ranging from singing to dance to ventriloquism to comedy to push-ups. We were amazed by all of the brave performers who took to the stage, and the audience was quickly engaged in every performance, clapping and dancing along to musical performances and cheering loudly for each act. It was so much fun to see the talents of our performers, and the confidence everyone gained when they saw the support they had from everyone at camp. It was the perfect end to an amazing day!

It is so hard to believe that tomorrow is our last full day of camp — I find myself asking the same “why is this just a week?” question that I have heard so many times today. It is clear that everyone is excited to spend more time together, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow has to bring.


Day 3

Christmas came early this year, with everyone waking up to a lobby full of snow, stockings hung by the fire place, and a Christmas tree! Campers embraced the surprise holiday celebration, donning festive hats and necklaces to get in the Christmas spirit. Our morning started with breakfast and showing of Frozen. After which we participated in Reindeer Games, including Christmas tree cornhole, pin the nose on Rudolph, and giant gingerbread house decorating.

After a morning of fun, we headed to lunch, where we made our own pizzas — stretching dough, adding sauce, and choosing toppings. People loved being able to choose how their pizza would turn out, and loved seeing their creations turn into a delicious meal.

Next, we headed to an ice rink, where some people skated while others played noodle hockey — competing to get a balloon into the goal posts with pool noodle sticks. It was awesome to see lots of people try new things, taking to the ice with support from friends. Some of our skating pros helped teach everyone how to skate, making sure people were safe and had a steady hand nearby.

In the afternoon, we did Christmas crafts, including making Christmas cards, starfish ornaments, slime, and participating in a Secret Santa. This also gave people a lot of time to chat with new friends, and continue to build connections with other campers. In conversation, one new Guest at camp shared “I’m really happy because I feel I can be myself here, and I don’t usually feel like that at home”. This is what camp is really all about!

After a turkey Christmas dinner and a Secret Santa gift exchange, we finished our Christmas celebrations with a Malta Camp staple, Silent Night. During this vespers service, celebrated with Bishop Ed Scharffenberger, we sang Christmas carols, read the story of Christmas, and spent time in prayerful reflection. Many Guests left petitions at the altar in the Siena College grotto (which will be brought to the Lourdes grotto in a few weeks) and lit candles for family and friends. There were a few teras and many hugs shared before we wrapped up the evening with Christmas cookies.

Holidays are often about family, but with camp taking place in the summer, it is unlikely that we will be able to celebrate Christmas together in-person. So it was so wonderful to spend Christmas together with our camp family!


Day 2

Our first full day of camp was full of high-energy fun! We started our morning out at SkyZone, where we bounced, jumped, and climbed until we were exhausted. During our time at the trampoline park, we played dodgeball and basketball, jumped in a foam pit, and rode a zipline. Everyone laughed as we threw foam blocks at each other, and a few campers tried to dig all the way to the bottom of the foam pit. On the obstacle course, we learned that we have a few all star athletes among us, as well as many brave campers who we cheered on as they tried new things! Outside of the trampoline area, people played cards and games, joined frequently by tired jumpers excited for a break. Uno seems to be the game of choice at this year’s camp, with people pulling out cards nearly every time we have a break and in the evenings.

After lunch, we travelled across town to All4Fun, where we enjoyed mini-golf, go-karts, and batting cages! There were lots of cheers for impressive shots, mixed with laughs at funny misses. On the go-kart track, everyone cheered as they watched their new friends race to the finish. Many Guests commented on how excited they were to drive a go-kart, since they aren’t able to drive a normal car in their daily lives — the smiles on everyone’s faces made it clear that whether you were first or last to the finish line, the race was already won!

Our afternoon fun was cut short by an unexpected downpour, closing the go-kart track and forcing our group returning home early to stay dry. But we made the most of the situation, getting some extra time to practice the secret camp handshake! Dinner time brought to life how quickly this group has come together, with calls of “hello” to new friends and invitations to sit together heard all around — it is hard to believe that this group was mostly strangers yesterday! After dinner, we ventured across campus to watch The Greatest Showman. Some sang and danced along, while others just watched. By the end of the day, everyone was ready for bed, exhausted from a full day of adventures!


Day 1

Wow! It is hard to believe that it has been nearly a full year since this group has been together – coming back to camp feels just like coming home, picking things up as though there was never a break! This summer, we are excited to welcome over 100 people, including 39 with disabilities, to Siena College for Malta Camp USA – a week to try new things, make new friends, and embrace the truth that each of us are “wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

While many of us have only known each other for a matter of hours, it feels like we have already found the rhythm of a cohesive group. As our Guests arrived this morning, we greeted everyone with balloons, dancing, and lots of bubbles. Hugs were shared with friends old and new, and with each new arrival our welcoming committee continued to grow. After everyone was settled in, we enjoyed lunch before heading off to our Opening Mass. Celebrating the feast of St. John the Baptist (traditionally the Mass for 6/24), we heard about the role we each play in carrying out God’s plan, as well as (fittingly) singing Psalm 139. We are grateful to all those who helped make today’s Mass so special, especially lectors Martina, Lauren, Antonio, Kristi, and Kimber, cantors Nicole and Ryan, altar servers Thomas B and Thomas C, and Sean and Eileen who brought up the gifts.

After Mass, we did some activities to get to know each other better. Our twist on BINGO had everyone trying to cross off their boards by meeting new friends who could sign one of their squares – for example, a Yankees fan, someone who took a plane to get to camp, and a dog-owner. Roommates and buddies spent some extra time getting to know each other, talking about both daily routines, as well as goals for camp and ways to support each other. With the groundwork laid for a great week, the fun began! Campers got their faces painted, tie-dyed pillow cases, and assembled “camp kits” of toiletries and other goodies to help everyone have a great week at camp! Our evening concluded with a murder mystery dinner – with the help of detectives Moana and Hei Hei, we worked together to find the culprit and make sure Malta Camp stays safe for everyone.

Looking back on our first few hours together, I am filled with so much excitement and joy! The love that fills our camp has already made our dorm housing feel like a home. I cannot wait to see what’s in store for the rest of the week – with such a fun group of campers, it’s sure to be a blast!

Order of Malta

American Association, U.S.A
St. Patrick’s Cathedral Parish House
14 E 51st Street
New York, NY 10022
(212) 371-1522