Summer Camps Offer Faith, Fishing, Fellowship and Food

Anna* was one of those kids whose family didn’t take a huge summer vacation. She didn’t have the best things, but she was happy. Her parents wanted what was best for her, so they signed her up for a Fellowship of Christian Athletes summer camp to learn all about cheerleading.

Jamie Strange, area director for Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) of Madison County, said FCA summer camps offer a chance for all kids, ages 7 to 13, to learn from top athletes while also supporting their spiritual development. For Anna, it was a once-in-a-summer experience that made her year.

“This little girl was performing on our family night,” Jamie said. “It was kind of evident that our camp was probably her Disney World for the summer. She was not given … the opportunity or resources to go on a big, nice family vacation like a lot of folks are, so she invited her family, and they came to our family night. You could see that her life was impacted and ultimately impacted her parents.”

Every year, FCA hosts week-long summer camps across the country. There are two options in Madison County: one at Bob Jones High School and the other at Hampton Cove Middle School. Kids ages 7 to 13 can choose from 13 different sports: football, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, track, volleyball, baseball, cheerleading, fishing, golf and karate. Each sport will have a trained staff of college level, or higher, professionals ready to coach.

Faith and Sports

FCA is far more than your average sports camp. Training sessions will be broken up into huddles — small groups for kids to get together and talk about life, faith and school. After all, these are middle-school-aged kids, and we all know there are tough years ahead of them.

“That’s where they’re more involved in a spiritual track of things, where they’re learning lessons each day and being led by a local student who has been trained,” Jamie said.

For the past 70 years, FCA groups across the world have been uniting athletes to live out their faith in their schools. Faith and sports have a longstanding relationship, with professional athletes speaking out about their religion.

Some of those big name athletes and coaches will be on hand at the Madison County camps to help encourage and coach the campers. Case in point: Peter Nestler, a 12-time Guinness jump rope record-holder,  will be the keynote speaker at the Madison County camps.

The FCA camps are open to all levels, and students will be broken down into groups according to skill level. Organizers are expecting small sessions, with five to eight students in each level.

“We have fishing, and (there are) kids that show up who have never been fishing before,” Jamie said. “We’ve had kids show up with a brand new tennis racket because their parents bought it for them the night before, and they’ve never played tennis.”

Summer Camp and Beyond

Jamie tells the story of Will, a boy with a hard home life who had trouble making friends. But after he finished his time at the FCA camp, Will was able to get involved with the FCA at his school and will continue through the rest of his schooling.

“Today this kid is really a leader on his campus,” Jamie said.

And that’s what camp leaders hope for. After the timer ends or the buzzer sounds, FCA organizers want these students to take the lessons they learned and apply them to their everyday lives. Throughout the school year, FCA chapters in schools continue the huddles, encouraging teens to live out their faith in the hallways and on the field.

“That’s our ultimate goal,” Jamie said. “This will get to be something that … continues on in their schools and, hopefully, ultimately, for the rest of their life. (We hope) that they’ll learn at a young age that God can use me in whatever I’m doing — whether I’m a nurse or a teacher, if I’m a builder or in ministry, that God can use me.”

The cost of the camp is $200 per student, which includes lunch, FCA Bible, t-shirt, water and dinner on family night. Scholarships are also available.

The Bob Jones camp runs from June 16 to 20. You can register online for it here. The Hampton Cove camp runs from June 18 to 22. You can register for that camp here.

*Not her real name

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