A little boy hikes a football and fakes left. A kindergartener dribbles a soccer ball across a field. A fifth grader is cheered on by her team when she shoots the first basket of her entire life. Two 3rd graders compete to see who can “roost” three rubber chickens in a hoola hoop the fastest.
Thirty adults and teenagers lovingly shepherd groups of kids from station to station and teach sports skills. Fifty nine children from the Appomattox area hear the gospel message. Five make professions of faith. Sports Camp 2015 makes an eternal difference.
In April, we were contacted by a missions team from Panama and the Executive Team agreed that the Appomattox Baptist Association would host them during their mission trip. At the spring meeting, the ABA Missions Team asked for suggestions about how we could best partner with the Panamanian team. We decided to host a children’s sports camp with the visiting team providing most of the teachers for the camp and the local churches providing support staff, advertising, and participants. Unfortunately, the visiting missions team was unable to come, but by the time we learned this, the vision for what this weeklong day camp could be had taken root and we decided to continue with our plans anyway. At the outset, we were hoping for at least 20 children to participate along with the five churches on the planning team. In the end, nearly 90 children and volunteers from 8 churches came together. Any one participating church could not have recruited the high quality sports instructors that we had, but by combining our connections and resources, we were able to have three professional coaches volunteer their week to teach soccer, football, and basketball. In addition, other volunteers led rotations in kickball/dodge ball and an obstacle course. Along with each of the sports rotations, the children also participated in learning a memory verse and hearing a Bible lesson each day focusing on part of the acronym CAMPS (Courage, Attitude, Motivation, Passion, and Sacrifice), taught daily by a different person from the Association. I’ve never been part of a multi-church effort where so many people were on the same page about exactly what needed to happen and how every person’s skills and gifts were supposed to fit together for a joint ministry project. It was so much fun to watch each person do their part and the children run around with smiles on their faces learning skills, making new friends, hearing the gospel, and experiencing the love of Jesus first hand.
Even though it was “very warm” (the camp rule was that they couldn’t say they were hot, even though the temperatures that week hovered in the high 90s), the kids had a great time and learned a lot. It’s cool to watch how God can take what looks like a plan falling apart and energize his people to do something where he is so clearly glorified. At least five young lives are forever changed because of the investment our association made in them this summer. We are already beginning plans to have another sports camp next year. If you or your church would like to be part of the planning, help with the week itself, or be “in the loop” to let children know about it, please contact Caroline at the ABA office.