The sounds of dribbling basketballs and the kicking of soccer balls, accompanied with a host of laughter from exuberant youth is the setting this Tuesday morning.
The outdoor basketball courts, just east of Howard Payne University, is where the bevy of first- and second-grade spirited students are participating in several outdoor activities as part of Champs Camp, a sports-based camp administered by First Baptist Church of Brownwood that lasts until Friday.
“It’s something for them to do on spring break while their parents are at work,” said camp volunteer leader Jake Swann, 20. “It’s a good way to show love to all the kids and teach them about the Bible.”
The five-day, Christian spring break camp that incorporates Bible studies — which also includes various sports activities like football, volleyball and soccer — has been the domain for kindergarten through sixth grade students from surrounding schools 12 years strong, with the seventh- and eight-grade varsity classification being implemented last year.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Swann added.
‘Exhausting, but fun’
Celeste Church, the church’s children’s ministry director, said the registered number of kids this year has nearly topped 200, the largest number in the last half-decade.
“My dad wanted me to come, so I came,” said Brownwood Elementary School first-grader Camden Cardenas, 7. “And I really like it so far.”
After about 20 minutes of basketball and soccer, the kids scamper to center court, and about four student volunteers instruct a series of dance moves that the group of about 45 kids mirror while continually laughing throughout.
“It’s exhausting, but it’s fun,” said 22-year-old camp volunteer Michael Reed.
“I remember going to stuff like this when I was little. Looking back at it now, I wish I ‘d gotten more into it. We love spending time with these kids.”
Backgrounds of camp volunteers
The 75 daily activity volunteers for this year’s Champs Camp are students from Howard Payne, University of Texas at Arlington and Tyler Junior College.
The UTA volunteers, like Swann and Reed, are from the school’s Baptist Student Ministry, a student organization that provides opportunities for spiritual growth, leadership and missions.
The volunteers are put through a series of trainings the weekend before the camp commences by members of the First Baptist Church, which provides meals and housing for the college students.
Volunteers, like BSM intern Bethany Doll, who graduated from UTA last year, said the knowing of kids enjoying themselves in a friendly setting is definitely a feeling of satisfaction.
“I grew up around this, and it’s cool to see the kids get excited and channel their imaginations into these activities.”