For Immediate Release
May 15, 2017
Beth Harrison, Hamilton Strategies, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, or Deborah Hamilton, 215.815.7716, 610.584.1096, ext. 102
Fellowship of Christian Athletes Camps Bring Teams Together for a Higher Purpose
As 1,400 Players Prep for Area’s Largest Team Camp in South Carolina, Attendees Will Take Away So Much More Than Sports Skills
(Editors Note: Third in a five-part series exploring Fellowship of Christian Athletes Camps, which are on target to reach 100,000 coaches and athletes this summer. To find FCA Camps in your coverage area, click here.)
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Each July, more than 1,000 high school football players head to a college field in the heat of a Carolina summer, expecting to learn skills that will translate to the gridiron. But these players, and their coaches, end up taking away so much more.
Every summer, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA, www.fca.org) Camps reach tens of thousands of coaches and athletes, and a very targeted type of camp aims to impact the team as a whole.
Team Camps are designed to impact coaches and athletes for Christ and equip them with spiritual principles through competition. Coaches enroll their players to attend this Camp as a team. Team Camps are a wonderful outreach opportunity, and coaches benefit greatly by evaluating their team’s talent. Team Camps also serve coaches by building team unity, as players experience FCA Camp in ways different than other sports camps.
In North and South Carolina, Reid Bowyer, FCA’s director of ministry advancement for the Carolinas region, has seen that team unity come to life firsthand.
On staff with FCA for five years, Bowyer was heavily involved with FCA in high school and college. Prior to working with FCA, Bowyer was a youth minister and volunteered with FCA in the Carolinas. In fact, FCA President and CEO Shane Williamson served as Vice President of Field Ministry for the Carolinas from 2011-2014 and the Area Director for Upstate South Carolina from 2002-2005, with a stint in Atlanta in between. He and Bowyer worked closely together to impact coaches and athletes in that region.
For the past four years, Bowyer has co-directed the area’s largest Team Camp—a two-session event in July that welcomes more than 1,400 football players and coaches to the University of South Carolina Upstate. In all, the Carolinas region offers 12 Team Camps covering four sports. The July event is one of FCA’s largest football Team Camps in the nation. Also leading the Camp with Bowyer is Frank Hester, along with more than 25 FCA staff for the week.
But, Bowyer says, the Camp is much bigger than football.
“Our purpose is to create a win-win,” he said, “and, for us, that means the entire team receives coaching and competitive discernment that refines their skills, but players also receive spiritual instruction that helps refine their character, their trust in their teammates, even their family relationships. But most importantly, their faith in Christ is deepened. Once teams go through Camp together, the unity is evident. It’s not only about building their fundamentals, but they are in the same dorm rooms, eating every meal together, praying together, sharing life and constantly together for about 48 hours. There’s a lot more developed off the field than on the field.”
This year, from July 17-22, two sessions will welcome 800 and 650 attendees, respectively, from 30 teams across the region. It’s the 14th year for this particular Camp, and the University of South Carolina Upstate has hosted for the past eight years.
Bowyer and his staff work hard to ensure that the Camp is run with excellence year after year, match up teams according to their competition level, and keep player safety at the top of mind. Each team in attendance is guaranteed 14 20-minute games, with all instruction coming from their own coaching staffs.
But to begin and close each day, FCA provides devotionals for players during chapel time, as well as motivating speakers for coaches. In the evenings, an all-Camp Huddle with worship time and teaching from God’s Word reminds coaches and athletes there’s more to life than football.
“At this particular Team Camp,” Bowyer said, “we see our greatest number of decisions for Christ. At last year’s Camp, for instance, more than 500 made the decision to follow Christ over the two sessions—nearly a third of attendees. It’s amazing to see life change in these young men when they were expecting to walk away with just some new football skills. Most are unchurched and not plugged in, so watching a player leave Camp with so much more than when they came is awesome.”
As an example, Team Camps help athletes grow into the campus leaders they are expected to be.
“We really want to focus our attention on giving them the tools that not only impact their locker rooms, but also their whole campuses and, in turn, their entire communities,” Bowyer added. “One team last summer experienced the death of a player after practice once they returned home. They were spiritually stronger because of Camp, and their time together gave them something to stand on. They acknowledged that this was perhaps one of the toughest times of their lives, but they knew they had something bigger to fight for along with the memory of their teammate.”
FCA’s 2017 Camps theme is “ONE,” based on the Bible verse Philippians 1:27: “… I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News” (NLT).
In the coming weeks, hundreds of Camps all around the world will reach more than 100,000 participants. In 2016, FCA’s Camps ministry experienced another record-breaking year, with a total attendance of 106,000 at 720 Camps in 40 states and 45 countries. The 2016 attendance was an increase of more than 10,000 over 2015. FCA’s easy-to-use Camps website allows coaches, athletes, parents and teams to find Camps by sport, date or location. FCA also has a special web site dedicated to this summer’s Camps season highlighting the theme of “ONE.”
For the immensely successful and popular Camps ministry, FCA takes the best attributes of both athletic- and spiritual-focused camp events and combines them into an athletic/spiritual experience like none other. Camps also remove athletes and coaches from the rut and routine of their sport, friends/co-workers and community, and place them into an exciting, healthy, athletic environment that allows them to pursue their passion for sport and clearly see and hear the Christ’s passion for them.
Besides Team Camps, other types of FCA Camps include:
- Sports Camps specifically focus on “Training the Total Athlete” and develop athletes mentally, physically and spiritually. Sports Camps are for athletes and coaches who want to develop their athletic skills through outstanding instruction, skill development and intense competition.
- Leadership Camps train athletes to be spiritual leaders in their personal lives, on their teams and on their campuses. These Camps are geared toward student-athletes, FCA Huddle Coaches and volunteers who serve as leaders. Camps focus on teaching practical skills for Christian growth, developing effective leaders and preparing participants for FCA Huddle ministry.
- Partnership Camps work with other ministries and organizations involved in sports ministry. At Partnership Camps, FCA develops a relationship with an existing Camp to provide the spiritual and/or the athletic aspect of the program. This can include FCA Camp curriculum, FCA resources, speakers, Huddle meetings and staff.
- Power Camps develop young athletes in their faith and their sport. Power Camps are typically for young athletes ages 8 to 12 who want to develop their sports skills. These Camps provide excellent instruction and competition through sports-specific and multi-sport focus, and are normally day Camps that involve the local community.
- Coaches Camps challenge coaches in their faith and family life, and allow coaches to be spiritually, relationally and professionally refreshed. Coaches Camps are for single and married coaches and their families and are designed to minister, to equip and to encourage. FCA Camps minister to coaches through Bible studies, small groups, fellowship, prayer support, discipleship and mentoring.
- International Camps focus on worldwide impact and reach coaches and athletes around the globe.
To find Camps in specific areas or to inquire about volunteering or attending an FCA Camp, visit www.fcacamps.org. For more information about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, visit FCA’s web site at www.fca.org, its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fcafans or its Twitter feed @fcanews. Read more about FCA here.
To interview a representative from Fellowship of Christian Athletes, contact Beth Harrison at 610-584-1096, ext. 104, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, or Deborah Hamilton at 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096, ext. 102.