JEFFERSON CITY — The sound of bouncing balls echoed across Memorial Baptist Church, Jefferson City, as elementary students completed basketball drills. More than 50 first- through sixth-graders attended the church’s weeklong Sports Crusaders basketball camp.
Sports Crusaders sends teams of college athletes throughout the Midwest — and internationally — to teach the mechanics of sports and share God’s love.
The Crusaders not only bring their skills, but they offer a half time each day where the kids are led through a devotional workbook, learn about a quality, character or moral from the Bible and work on Scripture memory, said Tara Snellen, camp coordinator for Memorial.
Campers were divided into a morning or afternoon session based on age.
Each night the students had homework to earn “big dog” points, which included writing in prayer journals or memorizing a Bible verse. Students also had an opportunity to make a commitment to Christ. “We had several make decisions to follow Christ,” Snellen said.
The event was geared toward community members. “About 80 percent of the kids are from outside the church,” Snellen said.
She said the camp fit in well with the church’s missions vision. “This is really a missions-minded church. [With the camp] we get to service the community and get to know families that might be in need.”
Snellen agreed to be the church’s coordinator after seeing the impact Sports Crusaders had on her 9-year-old son. Her son is hard to impress, she said, but he couldn’t stop talking about last year’s camp.
On the last day, Sports Crusaders coaches led the children in discussion about the importance of church. “True or false: The church is a building,” Kassie Limke asked her half time group.
After the group correctly answered “false,” a boy named Sam spoke up. “The church is a group of people.”
Limke agreed and emphasized that people need others for support. For Christians, she said, that support comes from the church.
Limke worked with Daniel Swarthout and Mary Miller to lead the two sessions.
“The reason I wanted to join the camp is because I was a part of the camp when I was younger, and I wanted the younger kids to enjoy the same experience I did,” Miller told a reporter from the Jefferson City News Tribune.
In addition to basketball camps, Sports Crusaders offers camps on soccer, volleyball and cheerleading. For more information, visit sportscrusaders.org or call 866-482-9833.
Jennifer Harris is News Writer for Word&Way.