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My Camp Story by Rick Bowles

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes engages coaches and athletes to grow in their faith and sport.

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My Camp Story by Rick Bowles

Camp. If you have ever experienced a week away from home, meeting new friends, creating new experiences, then you probably have pleasant memories of camp. I have been blessed to participate in camp as a child, teenager and adult. My very first camp experience, though, was not the best.

I was 8 years old and very shy. The church camp had a tradition of allowing you to "find" a date to walk up the side of the mountain to three crosses at the top, have a short devotion then eat ice cream at the bottom of the excursion. In order to find a date, the girls got to pick who they wanted to walk up the mountain with by chasing the boys until one was "caught".

So the boys lined up a few yards in front of the girls. This was terrifying to me as an 8 year old kid who had no intention of holding any girls hand up and down a mountain! So when the word "go" was announced, I ran like there was a mountain lion chasing me. For 5 minutes, I zigged and zagged and stayed clear of any female coming close. I did notice a young girl approaching me. She tried but could not get me. Then she huddled with her two older sisters and all three came at me. I know I was sweating bullets, but for another 3 minutes I managed to escape them all. With great relief I thought I had dodged the biggest trial of my 8 year old life. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw the three sisters approach my camp counselor. Oh no, now their evil plans included an adult!

Needless to say, within one minute he had grabbed me and held me until the menacing, younger sister touched my shoulder and yelled.,"caught!" Yes, I was forced to hold her hand up and down the mountain but the minute we were at the bottom, no amount of ice-cream would keep me hanging around to be seen in the "light" with my arch nemesis..my date.

Is there a moral to this story? I've not been able to find a deeper meaning, but if I had not given camp another try two years later I would probably would not have darkened the door of a camp again. (Yes I did skip a year for fear that she might be there, but by the time I was 10 girls didn't seem as scary.)

Other than my first year at camp I have some very wonderful memories. As an adult who has seen camp impact teens and adults in so many positive and spiritual ways, I am excited that FCA provides young athletes an opportunity to experience a life-changing week. And you can bet, while I'm the leader, there will be no girls running down boys for a hike up a mountain!

Here is an example of the impact of camp from a Mom after her son got back from this year's Sports Leadership Camp at DBU.

"I wanted to let you know that the kid I sent is NOT the kid I got back!! Wow!!! What an amazing, life changing experience that camp has been for him!! I've been holding back tears as I listen to his stories. That camp TOUCHED him, and taught him things in 4 days I've tried to teach him for years!! I can never thank you enough!! I hope we can continue the FCA experience through the summer and school year. We'll do anything we can to help. I'm in awe at how much he "received" from the camp, his huddle leader, & the kids with him in such a short time! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

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